The Graveyard Book Read Along Part II

Chupacabra guarding my book.

For the second installment of The Graveyard Book read along, chapters 4-6 (which includes a short interlude) were read. If you are just joining us, Part I can be found HERE.

Let me start off by thanking Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings for hosting this read along. He has several fun reading events going on this month, so make sure to check out his site.

These few chapters see our main character, Nobody (Bod) Owens, grow from a child to a youngling on the cusp of adulthood. One of the things I truly enjoy about Neil Gaiman‘s writings is his ability to weave mythology and lore into everyday experiences. He does that beautifully in the chapter concerning the Danse Macabre, where the living and the dead enjoy a few hours of unfettered dancing in the streets.

In Chapter 4, The Witch’s Headstone, we meet Liza Hempstock (I love Gaiman’s character names!), who was droned and burned to charcoal and buried and a witch in unconsecrated ground. Turns out she is a little bit of a witch, and it is good that she and Bod get to be friends. Bod finds it a bit sad that she lacks a headstone and so he sets out to get her one, taking many chances and breaking even more rules. He steals from the Sleether (see Part I) and tries to sell the item to a shady type who locks him in a back room while he decides what to do. Bod is eventually saved and returns to the graveyard, where he makes a touching gesture to Liza. Humanity counts whether you are dead or alive. What did you all think about Abanazer Bolger’s connection to Jack?

The Danse Macabre I alluded to above is Chapter 5. I found this chapter to be full of mystery and beauty. I loved the idea of tradition pushing the living into participating, and the simplicity of the not-very-often blooming white flowers. Even though this is my second read through, I still didn’t understand why the ghosts and even Silas at the end of the chapter, after the dance is all said and done, won’t talk about it. We already had plenty of mystery surrounding the dance, like why the flowers, where was the music coming from, and why did the ghosts spiffy up their ghostly habitations if the dance took place in town? Why add the mystery of not talking about it?

Jack, Jack, Jack…..Sigh… what a vicious mystery you are. In the interlude Convocation, we get a few hints about Jack. Perhaps he is well funded. Perhaps he is just one of a group of trained or specialized killers. Reading this little section makes me worry for Bod Owens.

In Chapter 6, Nobody Owens’ School Days, Bod gets to go to class. He wants to learn, not just book learning, but about being alive. Silas, his guardian, warns him to keep a low profile. Unfortunately, Bod has a hard time doing that for very long because there are bullies. Pretty soon he has not only the ill-intention of the bullies focused on him, but also the once-bullied younger kids pointing him out. Things start to get out of hand when the police get involved. However, Bod learns some important skills, like putting on The Fear and Dreamwalking. At this point in the book, Bod is 11 and he is asking questions about why he has to keep a low profile and why his family was killed and who this killer Jack is and why Jack still wants him dead. And Bod receives no answers. I feel Bod’s frustration! I want answers too. But I also feel that Bod deserves the truth of the matter at this point. He’s old enough to ask the question and understand the bulk of the answer. And I believe that Bod is starting to make choices that could endanger him greatly because he is kept ignorant.

So that’s the sum up. What stuck out for you?

Did you get the Danse Macabre chapter?

Do you think Bod’s Haunting of the school bullies was just a teensy vicious?

What is up with Jack and his business card?

Warbreaker Read Along Part I

Hello everyone. Welcome to the read along of Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson. This read along is the brainchild of those lovely, quick-tongued, and highly entertaining folks over at Once Upon A Time, so make sure to stop by and enjoy their site. They also have the links to all the other participating bloggers.

This is my second time reading this novel in the past year. I enjoyed this book so much the first time through, I read it very fast and missed a lot of the details. So this read along was the perfect excuse to re-read it, and slow down my pace. With that said, I promise not to spoil anything in my answers for first time readers.

1. All right, let’s start easy – how are you liking the book so far? We’ve been introduced to a lot of characters and started several stories now. Any in particular catch your attention? Anything intrigue you?

I have to say the cover drew me in right away. Just gorgeous work.

I remember the first time reading this and finding it a little daunting to grasp the rules of the world right off the bat. Luckily, Sanderson provides plenty of details to help me get on board quickly enough.

The character of Vasher I was intrigued by right away; is he a bad guy? Good Guy? His sword Nightblood often had me inappropriately laughing. Also Denth and Tonk Fah were quite the dry wit comedy duo.

Siri also had my attention right away because she is rebellious (or an independent thinker depending on your point of view). She’s a handful at home and a too curious for the Hallandren crowd.

2. The Returned are all treated as Gods, but at least one of those Gods doesn’t believe in his own divinity, despite seeing potential visions. Do you think the Returned will prove to be divine? How do you feel about the religion built up around them?

I’m going to partially skirt the answer to the first question, since I know how the book ends. Let me bore you with beer talk about divinity. That first glass of fresh, clear, cool water after working in the sun for hours is divine. That first fresh strawberry from my own garden was divine. Of course there are divine acts, which can be simple things of kindness, especially when they go against our base inclinations. Lightsong seems to be in great need of some divinity. His ennui would be irksome if he didn’t have his snide comments and nick names to entertain me.

I see lots of potential for corruption. The Gods can abuse the system and get nearly anything they want (except freedom) and the servants of the Gods control access to them, and hence have a lot of power. I find Lightsong’s questions to Scoot about believing the whole religion very interesting. Lightsong is a God and even he questions the validity of the religion – probably because of the weekly offerings and the near daily petitions that he has to turn down.

3. The God King didn’t turn out to be the way he’s presented and thought of in this world. Any ideas on what his role will be in this story?

The first time I read this, I remember seeing the GK Susebron as a mystery. At first, I couldn’t tell if he would be cruel, simple, cold and callous, or a reserved goodness. There are so many rules for Siri, even as wife to the GK. Of course, this has lead to some amusing situations and conversations. Bluefingers’ advice not to touch the GK, when they are suppose to have sex and create an heir – that conversation had me laughing on the second time through just as much as the first.

4. The title – Warbreaker – what do you think it might refer to?

The title had me guessing up to near the end my first time through. I like not having all the answers right away in a story.

So early on in the book, the reader is introduced to how close to the surface war is brewing. Between that and the title, we know the theme of war is important.

Other Tidbits:

Vivenna is also an interesting character. She has defied her father and secretly followed her sister to the God King’s city. She firmly believes her sister is in desperate need of saving. I found it very interesting how quickly she is overwhelmed by the new environment and then thrown for a loop by Lemex’s death.

Can you imagine going from pretty self-serving and living in a prudish society to having people whose job it is to bathe you? Now, does Siri get to scrub her important bits, or is this done for her too?

Lightsong refers to a Goddess that was the last decent Returned. I would like to learn more about her (Calmseer) and her relationship with Lightsong.