Category Archives: Read Along

Kushiel’s Dart Read-Along, Week 6: Chapters 46 – 54

kushielpinup

I got a bit off track with the read-along for Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart.   I’m not attempting to catch up a bit and picking up where I left off.

These questions for week six come from Grace over at Books Without Any Pictures and cover chapters 46 – 54.

One of the questions from last week dealt with initial impressions of Waldemar Selig’s steading. Now that we’ve finally met him, what are your thoughts about him? Do you think he suspects that Phedre knows anything, and will he continue to play a role in the story?

I feel like Selig was a bit of a legendary figure in the last section, up to and including his introduction.   Here we get to see the man behind the myth and maybe understand why his reputation has been built up as it has.  The notion that he’s the one ruler who can unite the various people against the Scaldi is an interesting one — and one that Phedre tries to nip in the bud, though she loses the opportunity.  I can’t help but feel that while Selig is a larger than life, unifying figure, he’s not quite prepared to play the political game on the same level that Phedre has learned.  He seems to either be too trusting of her or he’s underestimated her abilities.  Either way, I can see this coming back to bite him.

What did you think of the visit to Lodur? Do you think it will impact how Phedre thinks of herself?

For too long, I feel like Phedre has underestimated if and how she can play the political game.  She’s sat back a bit and allowed things to happen to her.  The visit to Lodur may have given her a new perspective on her training and what her role can be.  I find it interesting that while she thinks of escaping before the meeting, it’s only after the meeting with Lodur that she formulates a plan and begins to set it in motion.

Phedre and Joscelin have both gone through some harrowing experiences in the past few chapters. How do you think it will change them going forward?

I have a feeling that we’re going to see Joscelin struggle a bit more with the changes that he’s been forced to undertake in this section.  He’s had to betray his oaths (at least as he sees it), though it could be argued that he had some very good reasons to do so.   I expect guilt and remorse to come into play at some point and that he will take his betrayal of who he believed himself to be a lot harder than Phedre might. I feel like the experiences of being a slave and then escaping may harden Phedre a bit and cause her to up her game a bit when and if she crosses paths with Melisandre again. (And I have a feeling a showdown is coming before we reach the end of the book!)

If you were in Phedre or Joscelin’s place, would you have acted the same way in crafting your mastermind escape plan? What are your thoughts on how it worked out?

I think Phedre is learning to plot her moves several steps in advance, but she’s still not thinking through all the implications of her plans.   It’s a good idea to make the move to escape based on the circumstances presented to her, but I don’t think she thought through the weather conditions or that she and Joscelin wouldn’t exactly have the right gear to survive the brutal conditions.   I think that they are both fortunate that there was pursuit of them and that they were able to defeat the pursuers and take their supplies.  If not, I don’t think the escape attempt might have gone as well.

We’re finally getting to observe a budding romance between Phedre and Joscelin. How do you see this playing out? What do you think of it?

So, Joscelin didn’t think that Phedre could enjoy physical intimacy without pain being involved.  I found that revelation very interesting.   I also wonder how much regret he will have at breaking his vows when and if they get back to the world they were so brutally thrust out of.   I had a feeling these two had an eye for each other but as the old adage from Star Trek goes, “Sometimes having is not so pleasing a thing as wanting.  It is not logical, but it is most often true.”

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Kushiel’s Dart Read-Along: Chapters 27 – 45

kushiels_dart_cover

I got a bit behind on my reading and posting for the Kushiel’s Dart read-along.   So, this week I’m catching up and doing two weeks of the read-along in one!

Week Four:  Chapters 27-36  (Questions courtesy of Dab of Darkness)

1) Alcuin finally talked with Delaunay about being uncomfortable serving Naamah. He spent 3 days in the sanctuary of Naamah and came out with a lighter heart. What do you think occurred there?

I get the feeling that Acluin had a come to Naamah moment or event. As we discussed earlier in the read-along, it seems like Alcuin and Phedre were both very young when they took the vows to serve Naamah. And I have a feeling that they didn’t fully understand what they were taking on or vowing to do. Phedre has taken to the life and seems to be enjoying it — you might even say enjoying it a bit too much. But Alcuin didn’t necessarily take to it as well and I think there a process of his coming to terms with his choices and trying to find a new path for himself in life. The three days game him time for some reflection and to possibly consider that it’s OK to choose a different path for himself.

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The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms Read-Along Week One

hundred-thousandAs The Republic of Thieves read-along came to a close, several of the participants involved decided to keep the spirit going.   But without a new entry in the Gentleman Bastards series coming from Scott Lynch any time soon, the big question was what should be read next.

Enter N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.

I’ve had the novel on my to be read pile for quite a while now.  The read along seemed like a great chance to finally move it off the pile and maybe find out what the buzz surrounding the book is all about.

So, here’s my first entry in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms Read-Along.   For the first week, the conversation covers the first nine chapters of the book.  This week’s questions were kindly provided by Dab of Darkness.   And if you want to know more, the read along is hosted by On Starships & DragonwingsLittle Red Reviewer, and Violin in a Void.  You can even find the schedule for reading HERE if you’d like to join the fun.

1) We’ve met our narrator, Yeine. What are your first impressions? Do you like the chosen form of story telling so far? 

My first impression of Yeine is that she’s not quite as innocent as she appears or wants us to believe.   While she’s a novice in coming to the world of her grandfather and doesn’t quite yet understand why he sent for her, I have a feeling she is far more ready and able to play the game of politics than she’s lead us to believe so far.  It’s nothing I can necessarily put my finger on yet, though Yeine has dropped a few hints that she knows more than she’s revealing to us just yet.  So far, I like her but I am not necessarily sure I entire trust her

Interestingly, I was able to download the audio version of the book and listened to a chapter or two this week.  Part of it was to get the recommended pronunciation of  names is this universe and part of it was that I was curious to see if the novel’s conversational style worked better as a spoken narrative.  I think it does work a bit better there — it certainly makes the short asides that Yeine gives us at several points in various chapters feel a bit less awkward.   I am hoping that as the novel moves forward and I become more accustomed to the style of the book, these will cease to  be as much of a distraction on the printed page as they were in this first section

2) Yeine essentially has two families – the Darre (her father’s people) and the Arameri (her mother’s people). What do you think of her two halves? Do you think one will win out over the other within Yeine?
I think we’re going to find that Yeine is the best and worst of both worlds.  I have a feeling that early on in her interactions at the court, that her mother’s influence is the largest on her. But I believe that as we continue to delve into her father’s world and just why her grandfather summoned her that some conflicts will begin to arise.  (And I say this not having read past chapter nine yet…so if you’ve read ahead, please don’t tell me if I am right or wrong).

3) We meet the Enefa, the enslaved gods. Which do you wish to know the backstory to the most? What do you think of their enslavement?
I’m remind of the old adage that history is written by the victors.  I’m curious to see what led to the Enefa becoming slaves, especially given that they’re gods within this universe. As for the backstory, I’m not sure who I’m most curious about just yet.  Lots of mysteries abound, so far.

4) Nahadoth finally catches up to Yeine and his first words and actions are mysteries to her. Gibbering or meaning?
I have a feeling that it’s a bit of both.

5) We’ve met the competition for the unspoken throne – Lady Scimina and Lord Relad. How do you think they will complicate Yeine’s life?
I get the feeling that Scimina and Relad are two ends of the spectrum in terms of how they act and that Yeine may be more of a “middle” person.  She is clearly a bit confused and overwhelmed by her new situation and status.  I get the feeling that Scimina or Relad could influence her over to their way of thinking or choices if Yeine is not careful.   Or that they could become an ally long enough to discredit her or betray her.

6) The Enefa obviously want something from Yeine. What do you think that is and how do you think Yeine will react to their wants?
It seems like everyone wants something from her at this point.  The question I find myself asking is should she give it to them and who is the right party to give her loyalty to.

I will admit that, so far,  I am intrigued by this novel and I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone else thinks and discovering the secrets.

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Review: The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

The Republic of Thieves (Gentleman Bastard, #3)

Scott Lynch’s Red Seas Under Red Skies ended on a heck of cliffhanger.

After years of anticipation and speculation, Lynch returns to the universe of his Gentlemen Bastards with the long-awaited third installment, The Republic of Thieves.

Wait it worth the wait?

Absolutely.

Lynch spends the first third of the novel writing Locke and Jean out of the corner he left them in at the end of the last novel. For those of you who may not recall, Locke was poisoned by a slow acting poison. And choices he made at the end of Red Seas Under Red Skies denied him the antidote. Now as Locke is dying in an inn of a room, Jean is desperately working to find someone who can cure him.

After exhausting all their possibilities and burning more than their usual share of bridges, Jean and Locke are approached by the Bondsmage. In return for curing Locke, the two must work to influence the Magi elections. Locke and Jean agree, but only after he’s cured do they find out that they’ll be going up against an old friend, Sabetha.

If you’re a fan of the series, you probably know that Sabetha is that one women in Locke’s life and has been the subject of hints in the first two novels. The good news is that Sabetha enters stage left and takes over the last two thirds of the novel. Lynch details the reunion of the trio as well as flashbacks to Locke and Sabetha’s growing up and romance.

Fans are likely to eat this up with a spoon. (I know I did). After two books of build-up, the story of Locke and Sabetha is about as close to perfect as it could be.

The one drawback to the novel is that the flashbacks to the our heros and the scheme Chains comes up with to send them out as a traveling drama group wears a bit thin as the novel progresses. This may have less to do with this plotline and more to do with the compelling plotlines taking place in the present and some of the cliffhangers Lynch puts at the end of each chapter.

The Republic of Thieves proves to be worth the wait. And hopefully this time, Lynch won’t make us wait as long for the next installment in his fantasy series.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received an ARC of this novel from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review.

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The Republic of Thieves Read-Along: Weeks 1 and 2

thievesThanks to the Amazon Vine program, I received an ARC copy of Scott Lynch’s third entry in the Gentlemen Bastards series The Republic of Thieves.

So, I’m participating in the Read-Along for the novel, but I’m a couple of weeks behind.  This is my first post to try and catch-up a bit.  It covers week one and two of the read-along.

Week One

1) We get to reminisce with several old friends in this section – Carlo, Galdo, Chains. How did you like this? Bitter sweet or happy dance?

Chains and the stories about Locke growing up were one of my favorite parts from The Lies of Locke Lamorra, so a chance to visit with these characters again was a welcome, but bitter sweet treat.   Early on, I think I tried too hard to see if Lynch was dropping any foreshadowing hints about the fates of various characters, but I eventually decided to just enjoy the flashback and to see what kind of treats are being set up for this book.

2) Finally, the infamous Sabetha makes a physical appearance, albeit in Locke’s reminisces. What are your impressions? How do you think the romance, if there is to be one, will play out?

After two books of hints, it was interesting to finally have Sabetha enter the novel.   She’s such a significant figure in Locke’s life that I was a bit worried that the anticipation of her debut would overwhelm the character when and if she finally appeared.  I like that Lynch is willing to pull the wool over our eyes about her early on (I will admit I didn’t make the connection of Beth equalling Sabetha until Lynch told us).  I also like that we’re seeing the usually calm, self-assured, planning out twenty moves in advance Locke is completely flummoxed by Sabetha.  Watching him try to just be near her to catch a glimpse of her is a nice touch as is the way Locke tries to apply the way his mind works to her thoughts and motives.

3) After trying absolutely everything to save Locke, Jean still won’t give up. What did you think of that little pep talk he gave Locke concerning Patience’s offer of healing?

I’m reminded of a line of Babylon Five, “It’s easy to find something worth dying for.  Do you have anything worth living for?”  I took the pep talk as a bit of “let’s find a way out of this situation and then start thinking of the consequences of it.”

4) Locke has a few caveats to working for the Bondsmage. Wise or just Locke grasping for some control over his life? What would you ask Patience?

I think it’s Locke’s attempt to assert some control in the situation — what little control he has left.  He can’t stop the bleeding and he’s clearly in a great deal of pain.  Also, I think we’re seeing that while Locke may be physically hurting, mentally he’s still sharp enough to know that the Bondsmage aren’t going to do something for him out of the kindness of their hearts.  And like Locke, I’d want to know why Patience is willing to save me if I’d burned her as much as Locke and Jean have.

5) At the end of this section, we see that all is not as Patience laid it out. How much do you think Patience knows of the plot to off Locke and Jean? Do you see it interfering in the rigged election?

I think Patience not only knows about the plot, but is counting on it.  She’s planning to use Locke and Jean for their skills in this area and the plot to take them out can help get one final double cross on them once the job is done.    And I don’t think her name is a coincidence.  I have a feeling she is willing to be patient to get her revenge on Locke and Jean.

Week Two

1) Blood And Breath And Water: Patience tells Locke that the ritual to save him is serious business. She wasn’t kidding… What did you make of this scene, and do you think any of it might (perhaps literally) come back to haunt Locke?

It almost sounds like a case of the cure is worse than the disease.   OK, so maybe not really but it sounds like a very painful process.  One aspect I found interesting was that Jean could observe but he couldn’t leave the room if he felt queasy about what was going on with Locke.  In the short term, I think Locke will be recovering from the procedure.  Long term, it could take him some time to build back up his stamina and fully recovery physically.  Mentally, I can’t help but wonder if going through this will make him more ruthless in the long run.

2) Orphan’s Moon: Back to the childhood of the Gentlemen Bastards, and here we get another ritual, this one in service to the Nameless Thirteenth. It looks as though it might be Locke vs. Sabetha, round two – but this time Locke seems to be a little slow on that uptake… Who do you think deserves to be given the final oath? Locke or Sabetha?

I’ll admit that once again Lynch pulled me with the test.  At first, I thought the real point of the test was to make Locke confront his feelings for Sabetha and see how they can be a strength and a weakness.  Certainly, it’s no secret but I get the impression that Locke thought he was hiding it well (as most of us felt like we were hiding our feelings from our first crush and those around us).  Chains certainly doesn’t want a distraction like this getting in the way of the crew’s attempts to make money, so I wondered if part of the motive here was to force Locke to either take action or get over his feelings.  As for the final oath, I think both parties need to take it.  As we find out later, Sabetha also likes Locke, but Locke is clueless.

3) Across The Amathel: This chapter takes a breather for quite a bit of Eldren history, while Locke starts recovering. What do you think of the history lesson, and Patience’s ominous speculation regarding the Eldren? Is this something you’d like to know more about?

I don’t think Lynch would include this unless it’s going to pay off later in the book.   On the one hand, it’s world-building, but on the other hand world-building needs a purpose (unless it’s Tolkien and you describe every leaf on every tree just because you can).

4) Striking Sparks: The gang’s off to Espara, after a bad summer and a pretty thorough dressing-down from Chains, and we finally get to the source of the book’s title – they’re bound for the stage! What are your thoughts on this latest ‘challenge’ and the reasons for it?

For some reason, I found myself reminded of The Brady Bunch in the later seasons when the family would face an issue and put on a show or on act to resolve it.   I’m sure Lynch didn’t intend for this to happen, but that’s just the way my crazy mind works.   I think part of the reason for this challenge is to build up the G.B.’s skills a showmen.  We’ve seen throughout the novels that part of each scam or caper is selling yourself in the role.  What better way to learn that then by acting and committing to the character you are playing.  It should be interesting to see how the crowds react to the performances.

5) The Five-Year Game: Starting Position: The election gets underway with a party (as you do) and before it’s even over, the Deep Roots party has problems – and not just thanks to Sabetha. What do you make of Nikoros and his unfortunate habit?

I’m going to speculate that Nikroros could be a weakness that Locke exploits into a strength.

And it wouldn’t be any fun if the chips weren’t stacked against our heroes just a little bit.

6) Bastards Abroad: The gang arrives in Espara, and already they’ve got problems (nicely mirroring the Five Year Game!)… This aside, we’ve also seen some more of what seems to be eating at Sabetha. Do you sympathize with her, or is Locke right to be frustrated with her?

I can see both sides in the story.  And I think going forward it will make the story and the interplay between these two a lot more interesting.

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The Well of Ascension Blog Tour/Read Along, Week One

A couple of months ago, I read and participated in an on-line read along for Brandon Sanderson’s epic fantasy novel Mistborn.   I enjoyed the novel and the conversation so when Carl V announced he’d decided to continue the read-along for the next two novels in the series, I eagerly agreed.

This time around, Carl has proposed the idea of making it a blog tour read-along event.  Each week’s conversation will be hosted by a different book blogger.  I’m really looking forward to visiting not only the host site each week but also all the old and new friends as we discuss the second novel The Well of Ascension.

Carl is kicking off the tour this week over at Stainless Steel Droppings.  He’s got some interesting things to say about the first section of the novel.    This week’s discussion is a bit more free-form and without any opening questions.  Before I get into my thoughts on the first section, let me warn you that if you’ve not read Mistborn and the first section of The Well of Ascension, there will be SPOILERS here.

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Neverwhere Read Along, Week Three

For the final week of the Neverwhere group read, Carl has decided to ask readers for our free-form thoughts on the book and its conclusion rather than a series of questions and answers.

As I’ve said before, I was aware of who Neil Gaiman was before I stumbled across a paperback copy of Neverwhere many years ago.   Friends had recommended his Sandman comics to me and he wrote a couple of episodes for the final season of Babylon Five.   And while I hadn’t read Sandman yet (the price point of entry was a bit high for me and my local library wasn’t circulating graphic novels at the time.  This has since changed and I’ve got Sandman on my list of things I need to read the entire run of before I shuffle off this mortal coil), it was Neverwhere that provided me with a more affordable and accessible entry point into the world of Gaiman’s writing.  So for that alone, I’m grateful because it’s Neverwhere that introduced me to one of my favorite authors.

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Neverwhere Read Along, Week Two

I’m a bit late on this week’s installment of the Neverwhere read-along.  I blame a long holiday weekend and my becoming consumed by the legal thriller, Defending Jacob.

But better late than never, I suppose.  This week’s installment of the read-along covers chapters six through twelve.   The discussion questions are courtesy of Carl over at Stainless Steel Droppings and if you want to hear/read others’ responses, he’s got a full list of other participants there.

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Red Seas Under Red Skies Read Along, Week Five

After five weeks, it’s the final installment of the Red Seas Under Red Skies read-along.   At long last, we learn whether or not Jean is betraying Locke in the prologue or if it’s all just part of their elaborate plan.   The events come fast and furious this weeks, as do the twists and turn.  If you’ve not read the book and plan to do so, I will warn you there are SPOILERs ahead.

This week’s questions come from Lynn at Lynn’s Book blog.  And the read along is hosted by Andrea, aka The Little Red Reviewer.   If you want to see what others think of the final chapters and the book, she’ll have a ton of great links to other participants.

And so, here we go with the final installment…

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Red Seas Under Red Skies Read Along, Week Four

I got a bit behind on my read-along reading last week.  So, while others all across the book blog-o-sphere were posting about chapters 11-13 of Scott Lynch’s Red Seas Under Red Skies on Saturday, I was sitting on the sidelines, not reading the posts as they came up in my reader because I didn’t want to SPOIL myself on what was to come.

Finally, I was able to get enough time to read the chapters and now am finally able to respond to this week’s questions, which come to us courtesy of Nrlymrtl from Dark Cargo.    The read-along is hosted by Little Red Reviewer and if you’d like to see what other have said, you can find a list of those participating on her site.

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