Kushiel’s Dart Read Along – Who’s Interested?

Heldig and a very good book

Heldig and a very good book

It’s time. This has been kicking around in the back of my head for some time. I love doing read alongs and discussing the minutiae of a good book. The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (of which Kushiel’s Dart is Book 1) is one of my all time favorite series. In particular, I am forever enamored of Kushiel’s Dart. My man and I have read this book so many times, the covers have fallen off more than one copy.

So why haven’t I done a read along of this book before? Well, in short, it is near and dear to my heart. As such, it is with great pleasure and with a little trepidation, I put it out there for a group read (aka group dissection).

This series is full of political intrigue, spies, betrayal, sword fights, escapes, captures, and no small amount of romance. The characters aren’t static, grabbing the readers hearts as they grow throughout the series. The world is rich in deities, queens & kings, many cultures, and excellent food.

And then there is the sex. It’s one of the reasons I love it. The main character of Kushiel’s Dart, Phedre, is a prostitute, though this term doesn’t fully cover her position in society. In an alternate history, Terre D’Ange (France) is a place of multiple deities and many of those deities have houses of worship that recognize sex as a beautiful and sometimes transcendent activity. If you have ever read Gilgamesh, then you might recognize the concept of temple prostitutes.

But it goes a bit further than that. I first picked up a copy of Kushiel’s Dart when I was 23. I definitely didn’t think I was a prude at the time and yet when I read the spicy scenes I found that I was not as well versed in bedroom antics as I thought I was. Throughout the series, I expect there are intimate scenes that will push nearly every reader’s boundaries. There’s BDSM, and not the non-consensual kind that has made the big screen lately. There are bisexual and homosexual relationships, which I would like to think wouldn’t even raise the eyebrows of my readers. There are some non-consensual scenes in the series, but the author does a great job of showing what a transgression such actions are. These scenes are described in as great a detail as the rest of the book – which means great detail.

So who’s with me? I would like to start with Kushiel’s Dart and if enough folks want to continue with the next book, I am more than happy to do so. In total, there are 9 books in the Terre D’Ange Cycle, comprising 3 trilogies that are related to each other. My little heart would do a happy dance if folks wanted to do a group read of all 9 books.

So what does this read along entail? This read along is for the new-to-the-series read as well as though familiar with Jacqueline Carey’s works. Once we have a group of folks, we set a 1st post date and start reading. At ~100 pages per week (paperback version), Kushiel’s Dart will take 10 weeks. Weekly discussion questions are emailed out to the participators a few days before the post date. Folks can post on a blog, live journal, book likes, or even just comment on the host blog’s site with their discussion answers. Whatever works for you. Some folks like to simply be silent stalkers, which is fine too.

Of course I’ll host, but if anyone else would like to host as well, just let me know. Hosting consists of providing that week’s discussion questions and then folks flock to your blog (or wherever) to comment and leave a link to their post.

If you’re interested in participating in any fashion, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email: nrlymrtl@gmail.com

Once I have enough people interested, I will send out a group email to organize the schedule. Once we have a schedule, I will post here.

The Dragon’s Path Read Along: The Schedule

Pico resting before dinner.

Pico resting before dinner.

The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham is Book 1 in The Dagger and The Coin series. Some of you may know this author from his The Long Price Quartet (Book 1 A Shadow in Summer), or as half the writing team, published under James S. A. Corey, for Levithan Wakes (the other half being author Ty Franck).

For me, The Dragon’s Path is my first Daniel Abraham book – even tho he has been on my list for some time because so many folks recommend his work. Thanks to Carl over at Stainless Steel Droppings for hosting a read along, or group read, of The Dragon’s Path.

Now, setting up a schedule was a little tricky as there are not numbered chapters and the chapter titles are characters’ names. Carl did divide the book up into quarters using a paperback book. In his words, here is the schedule:

Week 1:

Read pages 1 to 137 (print book), ending with the chapter entitled Dawson that begins, “The King’s Hunt pressed through…”

Discussion/Questions for this section will go live Friday, July 12th, hosted by me [Stainless Steel Droppings].

Week 2:

Read pages 138 to 283 (print book).  This section begins with a chapter entitled Cithrin that starts “The dragon’s roads behind them…” and ends with a chapter entitled Geder which begins “A riot?”

Discussion/Questions for this section will go live Friday, July 19th, hosted by Two Dudes in an Attic.

Week 3:

Read pages 284 to 424 (print book).  This section begins with a chapter entitled Cithrin that starts “Word of the destruction…” and ends with a chapter entitled Geder which starts “Geder couldn’t say exactly…”

Discussion/Questions for this section will go live Friday, July 27th, hosted by Kailana.

Week 4:

Read pages 425 through to the end.  This section begins with a chapter entitled Dawson which begins “Summer in Osterling Fells.”

Discussion/Questions for this section will go live Friday, August 3rd, hosted by Mihai.

Carl has set up a group on GoodReads to capture all the fun. Anyone can join in, because Carl is cool like that. So, if you don’t have a blog, or perhaps you read this book last year but still want to discuss it, hop over to The Dragon’s Path Group on GoodReads to join in.

Right now, I am thinking that I will throw up a weekly post with the discussion questions and point to the GoodReads group, but we’ll see what happens. Summer on the farm is wicked busy.

Interview & Giveaway: Barbara Friend Ish, Editor-in-Chief Mercury Retrograde Press

MercuryRetrogradePressBadgePlease welcome one of my favorite publishers, and authors, Barbara Friend Ish, the editor-in-chief of Mercury Retrograde Press. Today she is visiting my lovely blog to talk mostly about Mercury Retrograde Press, what it means to be a small publisher, games & songs as story telling, and the upcoming read along of her first novel The Shadow of the Sun. Lady Ish is also offering up 1 print book and 2 ebooks to a total of thee lucky winners in the giveaway at the end of the interview. Winners will get to pick 1 book of their choice from the Mercury Retrograde Press catalog.

Now on to the interview!

Mercury Retrograde publishes fantasy, science fiction, and the unclassifiable. Tell me more about the unclassifiable? In the past few years, I have noticed more and more cross-genre books becoming popular, and even carving out a niche genre, like urban fantasy. What is the Press looking for in ‘unclassifiable’?

The book business is all about classification. It has to be. When you go into a bookstore, you want to be able to find the type of books you like. In a general-purpose bookstore, science fiction, fantasy, and horror in all their flavors tend to be shelved together—but in electronic venues such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble online, and in SF/F specialty independent bookstores, the classifications for this genre are more finely-grained. Fantasy is not only separated from SF and Horror, but has types within it such as epic, dark, and urban. These categories can shift, gradually or without warning, as when a few years ago (ten, maybe?) the book business suddenly decided to redefine “urban fantasy”. Now we know it as werewolves, vampires, witches, tough-chick protags who are invariably shown in not a whole lot of leather and tattoos on the covers. Before that, “urban fantasy” was Charles de Lint and his ilk. Imagine how confusing it must be to be Mr. de Lint.

But I digress, as usual. When we talk about ‘unclassifiable’ books at Mercury Retrograde, we’re talking about works that aren’t easily categorized. Personally, I love mash-ups, things that steal from two or more existing categories and re-invent them. Steampunk, when it began, was considered interstitial, unclassifiable. Then it exploded and became a subgenre—and a cultural movement—all its own. We’re open to border-crossing things like steampunk, but also to border-crossing work that is too unique to be readily categorized: frex, things that present as fantasy and turn out to be SF, things that smell like literary but are actually firmly genre in their totality, or whatever a writer’s particular combination of peanut butter and chocolate may be. Those sorts of books worry publishers and booksellers, because they’re challenging to sell. But I know the world is full of readers like me, who want to find the unique, fresh works and love them. Connecting those writers with those readers is an important part of Mercury Retrograde’s charter.


Sometimes we like to amuse ourselves by making up crazy cross-genre ideas, just for fun. We tell them to one another and build up these ridiculous concepts the way people tell bar stories: far-future memoir; police procedural with fairies; high-medieval conspiracy theory. The strange magic of these mash-ups is that we can spin them into publishing jokes—or discover they are actually the next great thing, and they’re coming across our desks. To create top-notch SFF literature, we have to hold ourselves open to all the possibilities—but be aware of the fine line between “outrageously awesome” and “ridiculously bad”. That line is defined by the individual, of course—which is part of why interstitial and unclassifiable works are so high-risk. Ultimately our acquisitions in this area are unpredictable and guided by our own tastes.

Your press has a strong artistic bent. Can you give us an overview of your nonconformist publishing ways, such as collaborative works with singers/song writers and game creators?

I suppose we are nonconformist. I think it is our goal of putting the art of story ahead of our preconceptions that leads us to make decisions that look weird. I’ve been a book person for as long as I can remember, but I fell in love with books because I am entirely committed to ideas and story. And as technology has changed in the course of our lifetimes, the ways in which stories can be told has changed. Some of those changes encompass the revival of story traditions far older than the novel.

Novel, of course, means new. This form we think is classic is actually an upstart, only a few hundred years old. Telling stories through songs is much older. Games, of course, are at least as old—although game as a formal storytelling medium is a relatively new development, as far as I know.


As a publisher of stories presented in text, we’re very focused on the longer lengths: the novella, the novel, and the series. That’s an outgrowth of the fact that SFF, as has been said before, is the literature of ideas—and as far as I’m concerned, the bigger the idea, the better. It’s this very expansiveness of our tastes in story that have led us to expand in more interstitial directions, by making room for our storytellers to delve into other media as ways of continuing or broadening the stories they tell. Several of our authors use games played by characters in their stories as avenues towards developing characters and plot; in a couple of cases, notably Leona Wisoker’s Children of the Desert series and my own Way of the Gods series, the writers have expanded the scope of what they do to include collaboration with game designers. Leona has worked with Chris Adotta on the development of chabi, a game reminiscent of and completely different from chess that illustrates the attitudes and survival techniques of a desert culture. Leona uses gameplay as an avenue of plot and character development in her novels, notably Guardians of the Desert and Fires of the Desert, which is slated for publication in April. I’ve been very fortunate to work with James Kempf and Anthony Thomas of Cliché Studio on the games for my series: the dicing game suabh (Sweep, in English) from my The Shadow of the Sun, and the card game Fortunes from my forthcoming The Heart of Darkness. I’m having an especially great time with Fortunes, which could be most succinctly explained by comparing it to playing poker with the Tarot: the cards and symbols of this Tarot variant are not only a working deck and divination system but also clues to the deeper mysteries of the series as a whole, while the games that occur in the novel are integral to the plot. We’ve had even more fun expanding this concept into the real world: I’ve been working with my most beloved artistic collaborator, Rachael Murasaki Ish, on development of the deck, having the pleasure of watching her take my ideas and develop them into images I could never have conceived on my own, and doing further work with my colleagues at Cliché to develop an electronic version of the Fortunes game that is fun to play in its own right, as well as an interesting window into the story world. Naturally I’ve got other game territory I’m looking forward to farming in conjunction with later volumes of the series. But it’s really too early to speak about them.


Game is just one of the storytelling avenues we’re exploring. Artist Ari Warner, who does all the maps for Mercury Retrograde books, and I have been developing the maps for The Heart of Darkness as another window on the story. He’s done amazing work with using the maps to express not only two different world-views (loyalist and kharr, the antagonists in the war going on in these books) but also ideas on cartography as cultural history, public versus objective truth, and the fleeting accuracy of truth in times of war. And Renaissance Man Jonah Knight, the paranormal folk musician who made his bones as a playwright and mainstream singer/songwriter before he fell through the veil into this weird zone we call speculative fiction, has me absolutely agog with his magical union of the ancient tradition of storytelling through music and tales of the weird. While his work in this vein is generally not to be missed, I’m especially excited about the project we’re embarking on together, in which he is telling tales from the worlds built by Mercury Retrograde authors in song. In some cases the works he’s developing are retellings of the stories in the books; in other cases he takes those worlds and spins his own tales in them.

I’m absolutely in love with taking stories that begin in text into other media, particularly media that allow the participants formerly known as the audience to become a part of the action. When you play chabi or Fortunes, you can play these games strictly for amusement, on their own merits—but, should you choose, they can also be ways of dipping your toes into the worlds from which they came, of seeing things through the eyes of people who live there. When you sing one of Jonah’s songs, or just listen to it, you are transported into the world he’s writing and singing about. Great stories have a characteristic we call immersion: they suck you in, make you live and breathe them rather than just watching. Media that allow you to not only immerse yourself but participate are, to me, the most exciting storytelling experiences of all.

Mercury Retrograde Press currently has a small catalog. One can see from the publications dates between books in series, that the Press doesn’t pressure their authors to complete rapid-fire works. Can you speak to how this fits into the overall philosophy of Mercury Retrograde Press?


I’m not completely certain, but I think we coined the term Slow Publishing. Our philosophy of publishing is inspired by the Slow Movement, which includes Slow Food and Slow Media. At its heart, the Slow Movement is about acknowledging that not everything can or should be produced according to Industrial Revolution business practices: that some of the best things we can experience can’t be mass-produced or even, really, effectively scheduled.

In recent years, book publishers have adopted the mindset that they are in the entertainment business, as opposed to the business of making art. This has to do with the fact that most major publishers are owned by international media conglomerates that insist on forcing publishing into a business model that puts product and profit ahead of writers and works. Publishing wasn’t always this way; a hundred years ago, and for decades afterwards, publishers took the time to nurture artists and works until they were ready for market. Not all the books that came out of that system were better, but books published under such a system certainly had a better chance of achieving the sort of transcendence that makes stories stick in hearts and minds.

At Mercury Retrograde, we envision a return to that sort of sensibility. I’m determined to give all the artists involved in developing books, from the writers to the editors and designers, space in which to do their best work: to aim for art rather than making products. It’s a healthier practice: artists held to production schedules not only have to make compromises in their art but tend to wreck their physical and mental health over time—or collapse under the pressure and quit. Imagine how many great works of art have been lost to us because the way the business works has broken the artists who would have created them. I am determined that Mercury Retrograde will remain a safe haven against that sort of problem. And I believe it’s ultimately a service not only to the artists, but to the readers, because the works we can offer under these circumstances are capable of achieving a completely different level of quality. I’ve observed that discerning readers would rather wait a little longer for an author’s next book, and receive something wonderful in return, than have something less than wonderful delivered in a timely fashion. And thank goodness there are so many artists working today that readers need not go hungry while they wait for the good stuff.

How did you come to the generous decision to offer a free ebook version for every paperbook bought? What are your thoughts on Digital Rights Media and the move by some large ebook publishers to go without it?


We began offering free eBooks with purchase of Trade versions in 2009. The idea came from a conversation I held with a reader around that time, who lit up my brain with the idea that what readers are buying is stories. Once I sat with that idea for a while, I began to think very differently not only about the issue of eBook pricing but about book pricing generally.

If readers are buying stories, experiences, then why should they have to pay twice for the same story just because they want to be able to take a book along electronically when they leave the house? That’s essentially the same thing as a music company insisting consumers buy a separate copy of an album for each digital device they own. We have to charge more for Trade paperbacks than we do for eBooks, because they are much more expensive to put into readers’ hands. We must print and ship each copy, whether direct or through our wholesale and retail partners. But once an eBook is complete, with the exception of distribution fees, we can sell an infinite number of copies of that eBook without incurring additional costs. And the costs of eBook production are covered by eBook sales. As far as I’m concerned, if a reader buys the Trade paperback, she’s already paid for the story. Putting the eBook into her hands, as long as it’s distributed from our site, costs us nothing more. It seems only fair.

I think the purchase of stories is going to become increasingly uncoupled from the methods in which they are delivered over the coming years—and we’re already seeing the beginnings of that trend. Some people love their paper books, but others want to read far more stories than they actually want to own in print. Print is becoming increasingly a collector’s medium: we are already seeing people buy print books because the collectible object has value to them rather than because they simply want to read the story. And when print books cost easily twice as much as eBooks on average, why should they not make a distinction between what they buy cheaply to consume and what they pay more to treasure?

I’ve never been a fan of DRM, or Digital Rights Management. While its original intent, protecting the artist’s work to ensure artists get paid, is a worthy goal, as executed it really just creates hassles for honest readers. I’m particularly concerned by Amazon’s handling of DRM, in which books can be—are!—removed from the devices of people who paid for them at Amazon’s whim. I’ve been delighted to see DRM-free eBooks becoming normal, mostly because I am very well aware that the people who will pirate eBooks were never going to have enough respect for writers to pay for the works in the first place. Now that the mechanisms for it are in place, we’re making our eBooks DRM-free wherever the distributors we work with allow us to do so. And of course they continue to be DRM-free when purchased from our site.

The Authors Page shows yourself and 4 other authors. What great things (new publications, reading events, etc.) do you authors have planned for 2013?


That’s a more complicated question than it might at first appear. As recently as last fall, I was still attempting to assign dates to things in advance: as serious as I’ve been about not asking artists to exceed their capacities, we have still collectively and individually continued to fall into the mental habits of the publishing industry. If you’d asked this question a few months ago, I would have offered you a very exciting and date-driven schedule of publications and events, which we were convinced we could live up to without too much craziness. But last year brought home to me, in completely new ways, the importance of drawing a protective circle around all our artists—myself included—and adopting an almost contrarian attitude towards dates. Our policy, as of this year, is to assign release dates when projects are altogether complete, and not before. So it is easier to talk about what’s in the pipeline than precisely what will be released and when.

Our next release will be Fires of the Desert by Leona Wisoker, Book 4 of her wonderful Children of the Desert series, which began with her acclaimed debut Secrets of the Sands. That book is slated for release on April 2; we’ll be hosting the official launch at Ravencon, in Richmond, VA, the weekend of April 5-7.

Beyond that, we have the second edition of There Was a Crooked Man by Edward Morris, a revised and expanded version that kicks off a series of eight novellas. I predict that this book will come out in late spring or summer; the remaining volumes will roll out behind it, as soon as the dream team of Ed, editor Joe Pulver, and artist Nick Gucker complete them.

Also coming up in the near term, but more likely next year, are Cael’s Shadow by Larissa N. Niec, the sequel to her stunning Shorn, and my next novel, The Heart of Darkness, which is the sequel to my The Shadow of the Sun. In conjunction with The Heart of Darkness we’ll be rolling out the Fortunes deck and book and the commercial version of the Fortunes electronic game. The Heart of Darkness is going to be an interesting release, because we’re trying something new, or at least new to us: while the book won’t be released until next spring, we’ll be releasing the story in installments by subscription in advance of the print release—and readers who choose to subscribe to the whole serial will receive the Trade paperback (and, of course, the eBook) for free at release. Because, in our view, they will already have paid for the story. Details on this, as with all our news, releases, and free-or-nearly-free expansions of our story worlds, will be available in our newsletter, our blog, and from the respective series pages on our website.


Meanwhile, Zachary Steele is working on an as-yet-untitled sequel to his hilarious Anointed and Flutter. I’ve read the early chapters, and it looks like his best book yet. Leona Wisoker is already working on the as-yet-untitled concluding volume of her Children of the Desert series. And I’m working with several authors who are not yet officially part of our roster, who have some very exciting projects in the works. I’m looking forward to sharing more about them when the time is right.

Our events schedule, on the other hand, is easier to quantify. I’ll be appearing at StellarCon in Charlotte, N.C. the weekend of March 1-3 and at MidSouthCon in Memphis, TN the weekend of March 22-24. Leona Wisoker and I will be appearing at Ravencon in Richmond, VA, along with a significant subset of the Mercury Retrograde crew, April 5-7. In May, I’ll be appearing at MobiCon in Mobile, AL, the weekend of the 17th-19th, and at ConCarolinas on the weekend of May 31-June 2. I’ll be appearing at ApolloCon in Houston, the weekend of June 21-23. Dates later in the year are still in the works.

Lastly, there is an upcoming read along for your book, The Shadow of the Sun. As an author and a publisher, what do you look forward to and also maybe have a little anxiety over concerning a group read along?

To say I’m excited about this would be an understatement! The author and the publisher in me are excited for different reasons. Like all authors, I tell stories because some kink in my wiring routes much of my drive to connect with other humans through the impulse to construct and share stories. Storytelling is a universal human trait, but for those of us who are optimized for that particular trait beyond all adaptive usefulness, sharing our fictional stories is at least as important as the sharing of true or subjectively-true stories that drives so much of human relationships. I am honored and delighted by the prospect of a group of discerning readers who have made their mark on the genre community by discovering and sharing great stories taking the time to read, discuss, and share mine. Additionally, the publisher in me is excited by this because I know that reader blogs and other social media shared by readers are the heart of book discovery for today’s readers. Word-of-mouth has always been the primary vector of book recommendation; the social internet has made that even more powerful, even while traditional methods of getting the word out about new books become increasingly irrelevant. The publisher in me is more pleased than I can say to see influential book bloggers giving eyeballs to Mercury Retrograde books. As both publisher and author, I am very excited by the prospect of meeting new readers who share my tastes in reading—because, like all writers, I am a reader first, and anyone who enjoys my work will naturally have a fair amount in common with me as a reader. So even while I’m connecting with people by telling my story, I’m also connecting with people through our shared love of the sort of SF/F that lights me up.


As to anxiety—it is always a somewhat anxious experience to have people whose opinions matter read one’s work. I so hope the read-along participants love my work, because in sharing our stories authors are sharing parts of our souls. It can feel intensely personal. And yet any professional knows that readers’ tastes are entirely involuntary, and what I think is world-changing may not move you at all. Or worse. But this is the risk all writers take when they send their stories out into the world: we send out little emissaries of ourselves, and hope they will meet new friends. In this, as in all avenues of human connection, the benefits far outweigh the risks—and whether the assembled readers enjoy my work or not, their discussion will teach me things I can take back to my study to improve future works.

It’s a huge gift to me as a writer, this read-along, and I’m very grateful to receive it. I’m looking forward to seeing it unfold.

Thank you very much for inviting me to talk with you and sharing our visit with your readers! Although it’s a bit outside the scope here, I also want to express my gratitude for the instrumental role you’re playing in the read-along. I so appreciate the opportunity to connect with fellow lovers of story and share my passions. It is, as always, so very stimulating to talk with you!

See! This is why I keep interviewing this woman. If you want more, check out an interview I did with Lady Ish on Darkcargo back in 2011. As always, I deeply appreciate Barbara taking the time to be a part of my blog. Just a note: The upcoming read along of The Shadow of the Sun will be April 2013 hosted here at Dab of Darkness. An announcement post with details will go up in March.

On to the giveaway!

There will be 3 winners. Mercury Retrograde Press is giving away 1 print book (USA only) and 2 ebooks (International).  You must enter the rafflecopter to have a chance at winning. The contest will run for 2 weeks and then winners will be randomly chosen, verified, and contacted. Yes, I verify that you play by the rules. Because I care. With that, have fun!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Wee Free Men Read Along

PratchettWeeFreeMenLittle Red Reviewer and I are teaming up to bring you some very clever and highly entertaining nonsense: Announcing The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett Read Along!

Yes, that’s right – Terry Pratchett. The Wee Free Men is Book 1 in the Tiffany Aching books (there’s a total of 4), which take place in the Discworld Universe. I’ve read this book 3 or 4 times and each time I laugh so hard I nearly wet myself – and I am NOT a laugher or wetter. This time around, I will be giving the audiobook a try, and I expect I may just become something more than I am now ;)

Below is the schedule of our madness. If you would like to join, such as getting the discussion questions a few days ahead of the scheduled post, leave a comment to the affect below. Either way, we hope you enjoy our silliness.

Blurb from Goodreads:

“Another world is colliding with this one,” said the toad. “All the monsters are coming back.”

“Why?” said Tiffany.

“There’s no one to stop them.”

There was silence for a moment.

Then Tiffany said, “There’s me.”

Armed only with a frying pan and her common sense, Tiffany Aching, a young witch-to-be, is all that stands between the monsters of Fairyland and the warm, green Chalk country that is her home. Forced into Fairyland to seek her kidnapped brother, Tiffany allies herself with the Chalk’s local Nac Mac Feegle – aka the Wee Free Men – a clan of sheep-stealing, sword-wielding, six-inch-high blue men who are as fierce as they are funny. Together they battle through an eerie and ever-shifting landscape, fighting brutal flying fairies, dream-spinning dromes, and grimhounds – black dogs with eyes of fire and teeth of razors – before ultimately confronting the Queen of the Elves, absolute ruler of a world in which reality intertwines with nightmare. And in the final showdown, Tiffany must face her cruel power alone….

In a riveting narrative that is equal parts suspense and humor, Carnegie Medalist Terry Pratchett returns to his internationally popular Discworld with a breathtaking tale certain to leave fans, new and old, enthralled.

375 pages (in paperback)

Start reading 2/13
First post 2/20 Chapters 1-5 (135 pages) Dab of Darkness hosting
Second Post 2/27 Chapters 6-9 (120 pages) Little red Reviewer hosting
Third Post 3/6 Chapters 10-END (120 pages) Dab of Darkness hosting

The Eye of the World Read Along Part III

eyeoftheworldbannerWelcome back everyone to the third installment of The Eye of the World Read Along. This week, we are covering Chapters 15-20. There will be SPOILERS below if you have not read this book yet. If you would like to receive the questions ahead of time in the future, you can sign up over HERE. The schedule is also available over HERE. Make sure to check out my partner in crime in this endeavor over at On Starships and Dragonwings to see what clever answers she has for us.

Without further ado:

1) In this section of the reading, we learn that Perrin and Mat are also having wicked dreams. Add to that, Min’s visions for each of those in the small party. Prophesy, portents and dreams are playing a bigger and bigger role in this epic tale. Are you enjoying this plot device?

Often in Fantasy, I see this type of plot device used as a convenient way to move the story forward, or to save the heroes from some nasty end. Robert Jordan isn’t doing that here, at least not so far, and I appreciate that. Rather the dreams, portents, and Min’s visions are building tension in the tale. I definitely feel that Rand, Perrin, and Mat are getting a bit freaked out; but these dreams, etc. don’t dictate their actions. The many, many broken-backed rats was a bit disturbing, even for me as the reader.

2) The Whitecloaks (AKA Children of the Light) make their first real appearance in the tale and of course, Mat has to play one of his tricks. Funny? Dangerous? What did you think of Rand’s reaction?

I get the impression that Mat’s jokes in the Two Rivers never truly got him in trouble, like a couple of village seniors giving their consent to let some farm wives take some sticks to Mat, etc. Does anyone else want to know what Mat and his buddy ended up doing with the badger from the beginning of the book? As for Rand, I don’t really remember this book very well, but since he is central to the story, I have to say that this may be the first glimmer of him manifesting some power. Though I am not convinced yet that Rand or the other two are male Aes Sedai.

3) Nynaeve found them! What do you think Moiraine and Nynaeve said to each other behind that closed door at the inn?

By now, I am wondering if Moiraine has some slight Jedi mind trick capability. Remember when she pressed those silver coins on the boys back in Two Rivers, insisting they take them? Well, I would have loved to see if she tried some similar thing with Nynaeve…and found it didn’t work because she is too stubborn and had to fall back on telling some of the facts, all in truth, and logic.

4) The party has to do a swift exit from the inn because of the Fade Rand saw during his milk run. How do you think they were found?

For one, they are not that far from Two Rivers. I am not sure if the Whitecloaks, while they say they spend day and night stomping on the face of evil, some number of them could be Dark Friends. Then there was that shady guy with the scar at the inn who is purportedly a spy for the Whitecloaks, and if he spies for them, he could spy for others. My last possible suspect is Padan fain, but I am just not sure. He must have run like hell to get there; didn’t he loose his horses at Two Rivers? Was the Fade just a projection? I mean, it didn’t even touch Rand and then it disappeared.

5) Moiraine burns a lot of power in these chapters: appears to become a giantess to step over the city wall; a wall of flame to hold off the Trollocs; laying a false trail; setting wards in the spooky city. Do you think this shows the limits of her powers, or has she got more to give?

Since this is such a long series, I want to say that we haven’t seen all her capabilities yet. However, this could be the edge of her current limits and circumstances later in the book/series push her beyond even what she thought she was capable of. She’s the only Aes Sedai we’ve met so far, and I am getting mighty curious to learn what others are like, in temperament and abilities.

6) A lot happens at Shadar Logoth, where the party hopes to hide from the Trollocs and Myrddral. What do you think Mordeth is? And the misty Mashadar? As Lan contemplates, the Myrddral must drive the Trollocs into the city to search for them, but what is driving the Myrddral?

Mordeth, and I assume he has buddies hiding in the city (all those eyes!), strikes me as vampire-like. He stuck to the shadows, had a odd face, needs the life force of living humans, did that trick with shadow in the treasure chamber. As far as the Mashadar goes, I am not sure. Perhaps if I had been a little more D&D nerd, I would have some monster comparison. The closest I can come to in my little world, is government paperwork. Once it touches you, you are lost in it forever, perpetual slave to it, sucked into the misty white bureaucracy.  I don’t know what is worse than a Myrddral in this collection of nasties. Perhaps there is a Balrog equivalent?

7) This section certainly leaves us on a cliff-hanger with the party separated. Worried? Perrin and Egwene found each other, but then galloped headlong into the river. Mat, Rand, and Thom made it onto a boat, The Spray, captained by Domon. Now Captain Domon makes a comment about the Trollocs following him; why do you think that is?

That whole big scene of them escaping the spooky city was nail biting. I was pretty glad that Thom was able to keep some wits and get 2 of the kids to safety. Hurray for throwing knives! though I can commiserate with Thom over loosing a favorite knife or two. That one comment by Cpt. Domon has me very curious indeed. If the Trollocs are after him, that could mean he is a good guy in a bad situation…..or it could mean that he is an idiot who double crossed some Dark Friends. I look forward to learning more about him.

Picabuche - Just a smidge demon?

Picabuche – Just a smidge demon?

Other Tidbits:

Nynaeve knows something about Rand’s parentage, or she at least suspects. Still, I was a little frustrated that Rand and Nynaeve didn’t share the fact that Rand was born outside the Two Rivers while Tam was roving with Moiraine. Or rather, shouldn’t this be something of common knowledge in such a small village? I can understand why Rand doesn’t want to share his suspicions that Tam may not be his father.

When Lan and the boys charged the Trollocs, they shouted various war cries, in foreign tongues. And afterwards, Egwene felt like she almost understood them. Moiraine translates, revealing the war cries to be of ancient Menetheren. I need to memorize something monumental in ancient Byzantine, just in case I find myself in a similar position some day.

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The Eye of the World Read Along Part II

eyeoftheworldbannerWelcome back everyone. Hopefully one and all had excellent holidays.

This week Anya over at On Starships and Dragonwings is hosting, so make sure to stop by over at her place. She will also have some sort of link mechanism up to enter your blog post on so we can all visit each other. If you want, feel free to leave a link to your blog post here in the comments too.

This week’s reading post covers Chapters 8 through end of Chapter 14. Click over HERE for the schedule. If you wish to recieve weekly emails with the discussion questions a day or two before the Sunday post, sign up over HERE. Next week will be Chapters 15 through the end of Chapter 20, hosted here.

Without further ado, here are this week’s questions with my questionable answers:

1. The stories of Moiraine and her sisters don’t seem to always match up with who she is, but other times they do (the whirlpool). How do you think these two versions of Moraine compare?
Moiraine has excellent fashion sense – and I am talking about that cloak and dress of hers. I definitely want a Moiraine outfit for next Halloween. Second, I think that with any large organization (and I get the impression that there are many Aes Sedai) there’s going to be a wide spectrum of folks with extremes on both ends. Couple that with the longevity of the organization, and you will have tales of wonder and healing and evil-doings and sinking of ships. I really look forward to meeting more Aes Sedai to have someone to compare Moiraine to.
2. Rand has now had two dreams that seem to be more than dreams. What do you think they mean?
Let me be honest and just say that I am not really digging the dream sequences…at least, not yet. In essence, given the basic outline of this story, I think they mean that the Dark Side is trying to scare him. Perhaps it is also a mechanism to help in tracking him or make him more susceptible to making mistakes (like not trusting Moiraine), and hence, easier to catch.
3. There are two other boys that could be significant to the Trollocs, but Moiraine seems to be paying special attention to Rand. How do you think all of them are involved? Also why do you think all of this is happening now all of a sudden, instead of when the boys were younger?
Perhaps Moiraine knows that rand’s father left The Two Rivers and returned with a child and a foreign wife, while Mat’s and Perrin’s parents are homegrown and never got any further than the farthest pig field or the nearest village. This would make Rand unique in this one regard. Also, the trolloc at Rand’s house said the Shade wanted to chat with him. Now how many people do you know get invited out to tea and a chat with a Shade? That would make me feel pretty darn special.
Pico in his basket, his nap time interrupted.

Pico in his basket, his nap time interrupted.

4. Thom has hinted at an interesting past and reacted to Moraine’s presence when she first appeared. What do you think of this mysterious gleeman?

Anyone who has traveled extensively is going to have many interesting stories, a past, and things they would rather keep to themselves. So the fact that Thom reacted to an Aes Sedai doesn’t concern me too much yet. Though I will say that I am a bit suspicious of him and his motives – as anyone should be of a near stranger who offers to disappear with you suddenly in the middle of the night. And anyone who can play an instrument, can tell of good story, or juggle, and has a fancy patchwork cape can call themselves a gleeman.
5. We’ve been learning more about the Aes Sedai, but also about the lack of male counterparts. What do you think of this? Is it somehow related to the prologue?
I believe the prologue is about the last time the world was broken by the Dragon, creating Dragonmount, and I assume, disrupting the land around it for hundreds of miles. I am still trying to figure out the details on how the magic system is set up. The One Power has male and female sides. So why not male Aes Sedai? They can’t all be bad; they can’t all be driven insane by the use of the power so easily……can they? And how do the Warders weigh into it?
6. Lan noticed Rand’s sword and commented on how Rand’s father taught him to concentrate. How do you think these coincidences are related?
Obviously, there is more to Tam’s past than Rand is aware of. I would really enjoy seeing Tam’s character again, and learning more about his past and the truth of his fever mutterings. I think Lan has some guesses and he obviously knows more about the heron mark than Rand does. I wonder if he will make the opportunity to explain some of it to Rand?
(7) Finally, Anya just wanted to mention that her copy has a map before chapter 13 for the new areas that our adventurers have moved into and she was wondering if anyone else had noticed this map and what people thought of “maps as you go.”
I decided to go with the audio version of this book for the read along. However, I have a paperback that I use to look at the cool maps. I am a map studier; I will take a good 10 minutes to study a detailed map before launching into a book (if one is available). I think it is cool that a small part of the large map (right after the prologue in my book) is put at the beginning of Chapter 13, with a bit more detail. While I love my maps, sometimes they can also giveaway part of the story if you are a map studier like I am. So Maps As You Go are a pretty cool idea.
Other Tidbits:
The last names of Perrin Aybara & Haral Luhhan are similar in sound to local Hispanic last names and since I am doing the audio, this always gives me a warm little smile.
I am glad that both Egwene and Bela got to go on the adventure, though I felt it was a little convenient that it was ‘part of the pattern’.
I think The Children of the Light might turn out to be some of the scariest people in the book/series.
I am pretty sure there is some serious foreshadowing when Thom goes on about the Stone of Tear and the Sword That Cannot Be Touched. Be interesting to see how that turns out.


Reminder: The Eye of the World Read Along

Streak is far more interested in mealtime than in my reading selection.

Streak is far more interested in mealtime than in my reading selection.

My confession to you, dear readers, is that I read Books 1, 2 and part of 3 of The Wheel of Time series a little over a decade ago. Back then, I was young, in college, in my first serious relationship, and easily distracted by shiny books, so I didn’t go on with the series.

In Book 1, having recently read The Lords of the Rings by Tolkien, I felt there was a little too much cribbing from the man in Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World. Remember, these were my thoughts of a 19 year old. But my man was really into these books, so I read on. Yet life, and other distracting books, got in the way of enjoying this series and it fell by the wayside. By the way, my man is extra excited to have me reading this series and he has even offered to  listen along (audio versions) and I will occasionally include his remarks in my posts.

Now, with the upcoming read along, I am thoroughly looking forward to enjoying this series with a group of people. In truth, as a Brandon Sanderson fan, I really, really want to see what he did with Jordan’s world and how he ended the series. Yes, I have heard how good this series is, how many serious-beyond-belief fans there are of Jordan’s works. But what I know is how good Sanderson’s works are. If Sanderson picked up the torch after Jordan’s death, there has got to be something really good about this series for him to build on. Or so is my hope.

I hope you’ll be joining us. Below is the schedule for posting, and also the sign up form. Don’t forget to check out On Starships and Dragonwings, my awesome cohost for this insanity. And you can always take the more casual approach by simply following our reading exploits and commenting here and there.

Chapters   Date of Post (Sundays)
Proglogue-7 post on December 16th
8-14 post on December 30th
15-20 post on January 6th
21-27 post on January 13th
28-33 post on January 20th
34-40 post on January 27th
41-47 post on February 3rd
48-END post on February 10th