Welcome everyone to Part I of The Shadow of the Sun Read Along, covering through the end of chapter 7. Schedule is over HERE. This is my second time reading this book, having enjoyed it a few years ago. Once again, I found myself entranced by the beautiful imagery and language. Also, I enjoy the mysterious action scenes mixed in. Let me give a brief recap for everyone.
Ellion Tellan walked away from his royal heritage and his wizard abilities. Some horrible event of his past plagues him still. We find him in Ilnemedon, the capital seat of the country of Ilesia, close friends to Coran Mourne who recently lost his father and must now ascend the royal throne. After refusing Coran’s offer of the position of War-Lord of Ilesia, he travels, mostly to avoid being summoned to the Wizard Grand Moot at Bealtan by the Aballo Order. His travels take him into the famed Tanaan lands, known through trade and in ballads. Ellion, as a harpist, finds himself enchanted at Rishan’s home. At least until an unannounced assassin tries to kill him in his bedchamber. The Tanaan have different ways, language, and culture and Ellion finds himself floating adrift in it sometimes, at a loss of how to steer himself out of social awkwardness. Having left Rishan’s, he comes across his daughter and her river barge party returning home. He dallies an afternoon with the Lady Letitia and her entourage, only to have it rudely disrupted by Basghilae – reanimated dead humans – riding out of the woods with the intention of killing Lady Letitia. Ellion is the first to sense the magic behind the reanimation and hence, the first to act. Many are lost and it is a sad, small group that makes it home safely. Letitia invites Ellion to stay with them a while, which he does. Lady Letitia will be invested as leader of her people (Mora) this coming Bealtan, and it will also be her first estrus (the Tanaan having a different reproductive cycle from humans). Ellion passes a pleasant, if sometimes awkward, time among the Tanaan over two nights, when he is yet again, set upon by another assassin, whose body mysteriously disappears. The following morning he fully intends to depart for a neighboring Tanaan land, Banbagor. He learns that Letitia also intends to journey there, as her counselors believe they hold a grievance against Letitia and her people and sent the mounted Basghilae. The following morning, two strange things occur at nearly the same time: 1) Amien, Ellion’s mentor from the Aballo Order, unexpectedly appears, and 2) More Basghilae turn up in disguise in the readying caravan in the shape of horse and mount a barely thwarted attack.
Whew! All that excitement, mystery, potential romance, awkward meeting of two cultures, and more. If you are just joining us, and are intrigued by what we are up to, check out the giveaway going on over HERE. Anyone but myself may enter, including all those who are part of the read along. Pictured here with my kitty cat, is my personal paper copy, signed by the author herself. Yes, I did do a little fangirl dance when I received it in the mail. The book also came with a little handwritten letter from Barbara herself, because she is just that cool.
Additionally, Barbara has made her book available for free download for the duration of the read along. You can find that over HERE.
Oh, and Chapter 1 is retold so incredibly well, made me laugh out loud, by Rachel Murasaki Ish over here:
OK, back to the read along. Everyone, leave your links in the comments to your posts so we can all visit one another. Enjoy!
1) Straight off, our hero Ellion Tellan insults one of his few friends, Coran Mourne, the new righ of Ilesia, by refusing his offer to become his War-Lord. What do you think of Ellion’s choice?
I think Ellion’s reasoning is a little backwards – he doesn’t want his royal position but doesn’t want to irrevocably give it up by taking the proffered position of War-Lord. Perhaps, subconsciously, he doesn’t want to be a public figure that could affect nations. His position currently as a harpist is public, but for entertainment and pleasure, not for shaping nations.
2) Throughout these first few chapters, we have hints of Ellion’s past, which are wrapped up in his desperate attempts to avoid the summons of the Aballo Order for the Grand Moot. Any guesses about what is driving him to avoid the Moot?
This first time I read this, I had no idea. I thought perhaps he had insulted some high-up clans man, kind of like he did with Coran, that shamed his family. Perhaps he refused to marry someone’s daughter, or sister, or widowed mother. Perhaps he bedded the wrong lass. At any rate, he obviously feels strongly about it. Also, I was unsure if this old guilt was connected with his magic use or not.
3) In many ways, Letitia is the most approachable of the Tana. Yet, still Ellion feels like he is swimming through foreign territory, never certain of where the taboo sink holes are. As a reader, how is this working for you?
Haha! Once I figured out what was going on – that the Tana are so different and we are seeing a culture clash from 1 side – I found it very easy to ride along and giggle a bit at poor Ellion’s social blunders. Though, I think by this point in the book, the Tana are thawing a bit towards him and starting to realize that he is not intentionally being a rude ass half the time.
4) Two assassination attempts in 7 chapters, in the same house. First, what do you make of Tanaan security? Second, it’s early, but what are some of your guesses as to who or why someone wants Ellion dead?
Uh….Is there such a thing as Tanaan security? Perhaps Rishan himself, in his mild madness, planted the assassins himself to force Ellion on his way. But if Rishan did not plant the assassins, that means someone else removed the body of the second assassin without Ellion (who was unconscious) and Rishan (who wasn’t present in the room) knowing. I do have to say that Tana must build really well-insulated rooms to keep others from hearing all the sounds of a vicious fight going on. Or, Ellion has a secluded room off in some unused wing……
5) The Tana have telepathy. Ellion is left to guess whether or not Rishan and his daughter Letitia are broadcasting on purpose. What do you think? If our society had the same ability, do you think you would get caught up in a telepathic shouting match across a crowded room?
At a party, while Ellion was chatting with another Tana, it appeared to him that she might very well be hearing the same private conversation between Rishan and Letitia. It isn’t clear to me yet whether the Tana are aware of Ellion’s ability to hear these telepathic conversations. That might be an embarrassing shock for Letitia later on. As for the second part of the question, I sometimes have trouble containing my tongue, so containing my thoughts in a telepathic society would be extra, extra hard for me.
6) The Tana have a different reproductive cycle than us humans. How do you see this affecting Tanaan-human relationships?
First off, I love that the women in this book are not shy when it comes to sex. They seek it openly and for pleasure, something I wish our society as a whole would move towards. Second, this yearly Tanaan estrus seems to drive the males wild, and the ladies a little bit too. But if I was a Tana male and knew that the lady I was pursuing would only be in a reproductive cycle once a year, I would definitely be psyched for it. For human males, this is probably a little bit of a relief in some ways – most of the time sex with a Tana will not result in pregnancy – freeing the human males to dally with interested Tanaan females (if they can find one) with minimal consequences.
7) Letitia and her retinue are attacked twice by Basghilae – the walking dead – once near the river on her way home and second at home as she is readying to depart. Are you convinced that they are the work of Banbagor due to some nebulous, unknown grievance?
Initially, Banbagor was not suspected at all because it was human corpses used for the attack. Also, we have Amien show up right before the second attack, which helps thwart. I remember being very suspicious of Amien during my first read. I don’t know what kind of grievance Banbagor could have that would warrant such dark magic and the body count so far.
Letitia’s mother, Carina, disappeared 7 years ago. She supposedly had some relationship with Amien. And now Amien shows up unexpectedly at Letitia’s house. Hmmm…
The Tanaan lands are full of old ruins and still-working structures (the windmills) that are somewhat of a mystery to the current Tana. Much knowledge has been lost, and this makes me a little sad.
This week, my question for Barbara:
The ancient Irish myth of Cuchulain is woven into the ancient history of this book. Are there other, specific myths that you pulled from in creating this work?
You can see the extended version of Barbara’s answer HERE or the short version int he comments.
What Others Think: