Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Note on “To Ride Hell’s Chasm”

I find the writing style quite truncated. It feels as though there are words missing, even though actually there aren't. Everything needed for meaning is there, but the style is so sparse that I keep having to go back and check if I missed something, either an actual word or the meaning of the words that are there. I'm a very literal reader, especially since the CFS, so I'm more likely to miss something if it is obliquely worded or expressed in a style my brain doesn't parse so easily.

So far, this seems to apply mostly with respect to the characters' motivations, so I hope my brain adjusts soon. Still, I'm only on p. 57 so there's plenty of time yet.

I have my suspicions about the fact that by p.99 we still haven't been given the name of the prince of Devall. Other characters have been described by position or rank and then had their names revealed, but he still hasn't. I don't know what it is I might suspect but I think there's something to it. It's probably too simplistic to suspect he's the sorcerer, but names do often have an importance in sorcery, so it is something to keep in mind.

I certainly don't trust the prince of Devall, but I don't have enough information to make any guesses as to what he's up to. For example, in the current scene he keeps feeding Kailen more wine, which really isn't in his (Kailen's) best interests. He (the prince) is definitely manipulating everyone around him, and some of them, such as Kailen and the seneschal seem to be very easily manipulated.

Everyone's disdain and prejudice about Mykkael is really starting to piss me off.

I think the wider world is coming to Sessalie.

All the petty politicking and attempts to get Mykkael arrested are really starting to annoy me. They're wasting so much time on their prejudices when it should be used on solving the problems they're facing. Also, all the slurs and insults aimed at Mykkael bother me, partly because I hate prejudice and hate, and also because it is just plain rude.

Given the prevailing attitude and the number of people out to take down Mykkael, I'm surprised Taskin is standing behind him (for lack of a better phrase) as staunchly as he is. I'm glad he is mind you, but it seems to go against everyone else's response to Mykkael.

I'm finding all the politicking to be very annoying. I'd rather just get on with the solving the mystery of the sorcerer and rescuing Anja. I'm not saying it shouldn't be in the book, because then it would be a different book and it does all fit with the setting and the characters. It's just that it's all ticking me off, which is probably a sign of good world-building and good writing more than anything else.

I don't really understand Mykkael and Taskin and what drives them. Taskin is a bit easier to understand, but I really don't get what guides and drives Mykkael. He has just fought Taskin on the tourney ground and it is frustrating to see two characters who are basically on the same side trying to kill each other. And if Mykkael is as good as the story so far has suggested, did he have to injure Taskin so badly and kill the other soldiers? That's just going to make everything worse.

I guess Wurts is succeeding as a writer because I'm so bothered by what's going on, not because of her decisions as a writer, but because she's created a world and characters I care about, even while I'm still not sure if I actually like them.

Okay, Mykkael's actions (or most of them) explained a few pages on. Thank you, author. It makes better sense now.

Okay, that's interesting. I wasn't expecting Mykkael to go back to the city.

Jussoud has just spoken very truly. I've been blaming prejudice for the developing situation, but it is far more due to ignorance.

Sessalie, in its isolation and safety, has no idea of the realities outside the realm, so the people making the decisions are either easily fooled or doing what the enemy wants out of lack of belief in the danger. And for the reader, who can see it all happening from a distance, it is all really terribly sad, but inevitable.

"Timal fell as a hero, serving my loyal oath to the king." (p. 234)

Yes, I see. Mykkael swore to the king that he would find and protect Anja. He takes that very seriously and is willing (although reluctant) to break a lesser oath to uphold that one. It's kind of like the three laws of robotics, where the hierarchy of laws allows the breaking of a lower law to maintain a higher one. He did the same thing when he swore to see the other princess to safety. Unfortunately, people get broken on that kind of determined maintenance of the highest oath.

I know Kailen and the seneschal are ignorant rather than stupid, but the ease with which the prince of Devall (who still doesn't have a name) can manipulate them to his ends does make them look that  way.

Okay, I wasn't expecting Kailen to be a demon's minion, although the news about the prince of Devall doesn't surprise me at all.

Hmm, getting a bit worried about how the protagonists are going to survive another 200 pages. It's all looking a bit precarious. 

Ironically, I am less tense now we're running from kerries, unmasked demon minions and the like than I was when all the petty politicking was going on. At least now we can get on with it instead of being stopped by ignorance, stupidity and petty prejudice. But I find myself a little worried that the book will devolve into standard fantasy fare now and we'll lose what made the first part so unique. Sure it annoyed me, but in a GOOD way.

Okay, that's totally gross. Battle with the shapechanger in its component pieces. I see now what other group members were saying about the excellence of the use of the horses in the story. All the same, I'm concerned about how many of the horses are going to survive to the end.

The introduction of the Empire and Grand Vizier seems a bit unexpected this late in the book. At the moment it seems to break the flow of the book as it has been established so far.

Mykkael is a bit of a Mary Sue really. He stays steadfast despite huge prejudice. His fighting skills are unsurpassed as is horsemanship, even though he's an outcast. He keeps going and fighting even with his injured knee, wounds and exhaustion. He's just TOO accomplished and wonderful.

I really don't understand the author's use of the word "haze" as it doesn't match the meanings I'm familiar with.

I find myself disappointed as I get towards the end of the book. I'm feeling very ho-hum about the fate of the characters. I was far more worried about them in the first half of the book. Now, I just feel the perfectly amazing Mykkael will bring Anja and himself through despite much exhausting fighting and many injuries probably to rescue by the seers and shamans from the belatedly introduced Empire (with help from Jussoud's people). If Orannia also turns up hale and hearty I'll be really pissed.

I should be really worried about the characters. They're exhausted and out of resources both internal and external. But I'm just not. Maybe it's exhaustion rather than the book? I just don't know.

I'm sorry but my suspension of disbelief threshold has been reached. Energizer Bunny Mykkael just keeps on going and going and going. Now he's got broken ribs and a locked knee and barely any weapons and he's still facing down kerries. And to have Stormfront reappear as well is just too much. Two Kerrie rides and no people or horses get killed. Sorry, but that's ridiculous. After the gritty realism of the first half, I'm finding the second half surprisingly disappointing.

Okay, I've finished.

I'm afraid I didn't end up loving this book and I think I have at least something of a handle on why. It's like it was three different books - or perhaps rather types of books - in one binding and for me they didn't sit well together.

The first half of the book drove me insane, for the reasons I outlined above as I read it. But the reason it made me so nuts is because it was really well written. The characters all had strong solid personalities and back stories. And they acted according to what the author had given them even when it made me want to grit my teeth and scream. It was gritty and uncompromising (things I admit I usually avoid) and excellent, even if it was bad for my blood pressure.

Then we moved to the action-adventure story. And compared to the power of that first half, the realism seemed to suffer. We got Energizer Bunny Mykkael who should have keeled over ages ago but conveniently only does it when rescue has arrived - but then he's going to die, but wait, no, we can fix it because we are a wonderfully powerful convenient rescue.

And now we're into the third type of book - the fantasy with an absolutely perfectly tied off ending.

There's that perfectly timed rescue I just mentioned. By people who we want to avoid because we've been told they'll want to kill Mykkael except that, hey, they don't.

And then there's Anja who makes all the right decisions for a classic fantasy ending, and after that gritty and uncompromising first half (remember that?) suddenly it all seems to be driving towards an ideal ending. Yeah, she had to marry the prince, but she's a princess with an imperilled kingdom. That was always going to happen. But wait, the prince is young and beautiful and even a nice guy. How convenient for Anja.

Too many things were tied up conveniently. Everything had a reasonable explanation sure, but it all turned up neatly at the end to get a happy ending. Oh, let's bring in the shamans, who happen to be powerful enough to not only save Mykkael and Anja, but also to find out the demon's name, save and cleanse Sassalie, save Kailen (even if he's dead), give Anja suitable visions of the future to make the right choices, heal Mykkael's physical injuries, heal Mykkael's emotional and spiritual injuries (at a distance from all the people involved, many of whom were dead) and, whoo-hoo for an encore, heal Orannia as well (and also at a distance) and see a vision of Mykkael and Orannia living a long life together and having lots of babies together. Oh yeah, I forgot. We also had a revelation that Mykkael wasn't really an outcast at all and we'll welcome him to the clan while we're at it.

It's all too pat. I think I would find it that way anyway, but after the uncompromising nature of the first half of the book, all these convenient happenings to tie off all these loose end with ribbons and bows feels rather like a betrayal of what the characters, especially Mykkael, suffered in that first half.

And then there's all those characters in the first half who are suddenly abandoned by the narrative. We leave the action in Sessalie in the middle of a battle for goodness sake. And we never go back. Sure, we get told bits and pieces of what happened through moments of witch thought or the intervening little bits of narrative but it's not enough. After all those characters went through in the first half, they deserved a proper ending that was shown and not told.

Hmm, it's becoming clear to me that I actually had major issues with this book. I think at its simplest, for me, the perfect fantasy happy ending and the contrivances required for that betrayed the stark power of the first half. The first half felt painfully real, so to shift to a more standard, over the top kind of fantasy fare in the second half was a huge disappointment. Also, as much as I like a happy ending, the second half wasn't in tune with what the first half set up and promised the reader.

This was a schizophrenic book for me. Or perhaps more a case of multiple personality disorder with two distinctly differently toned books inside the one binding (I'm lumping the adventure part and ending together here). I think I would have prefered either a second half that matched the first half (hard though that would have been to read) or a first half that matched the second half, rather than the mix that I actually got.

Rating: 6/10

Saturday, February 28, 2009

SPOILERS for The Eye of Night

Alama, Pauline - The Eye of NightI wanted to talk a little about Hwyn’s rebirth at the end of the book after Jereth called her out of the sea. At first glance, their romance could be considered a “Beauty and the Beast” story in reverse, where at the end Hwyn becomes beautiful. Jereth loved her as she was and if that was all there was to the story, it would have felt like a cheat’s ending.

But, as I said on Ann’s blog, this is not about a “happy ending” in the fairy tale style. Hwyn is not necessarily rewarded; she is reborn. She didn’t just survive, she had a completely new beginning, the first of the Sea Born. If she had simply survived, I would have been very annoyed if she’d suddenly been turned out beautiful. But she was reborn. And after all she had been through, if she was going to reborn she deserved to be able to see, to stand straight and to live a life without pain and limitation. Sure, Jereth didn’t need those things to happen to her, but if getting a new beginning, why should Hwyn be limited all over again. This is about Hywn, not Jereth.

I have CFS/ME and it significantly limits my life. If I was going to get a chance to be reborn, I would really rather not have it again as there are so many things I can’t do. Sure, my husband and son would love me anyway, but shouldn’t starting over mean without those pains and limits.

Hwyn earned her rebirth and she earned a chance to live that new life pain-free and unlimited.

One other small thing I loved was the idea that one mortal body wasn’t enough to hold the Hidden Goddess and so she needed two – both Trenara and the Eye of Night. It was also nice the way she explained a lot to Jereth as they sailed to the world’s end, but not everything. She explained enough to make the story make sense, but she remained enigmatic to the end and lots was still not completely clear.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Notes for A Thousand Words for Stranger by Julie E. Czerneda

Czerneda, Julie E. - A Thousand Words for Stranger

Review here.

(Page numbers are for Mobipocket on my PDA and therefore will be useless to most people, possibly including me. My apologies for that, but this is how I read the book.)

p.45: The richly dressed pair could have passed for Human, if ‘Whix hadn’t known they were Clan.

p.48: True telepaths were rare among Humans, scarce at best among the three other Trade Pack species who claimed that power, and completely absent in most. The Clan, rumour had it, were all telepaths of extraordinary ability.

p.111: Some Clan scholars argued that the M’hir was a construct formed by Clan thoughts over generations of use. Others, with equal passion, described the M’hir as another dimension, in which disciplined Clan thoughts slipped like needles through thread, bypassing normal space. […] M’hir belonged only to the Clan. The M’hir gave Clan thoughts the ability to transcend distance, to transport matter, to touch layers of thought in others minds – such as those of Humans – believe unreachable.

p.113: No other species even suspected the existence of the M’hir;

p.199: I can’t detect Sira because she travels under a special form of protection – one tat hides her from Clan adepts.

p.252: “I’m on my way home from school.”

How odd. That last bit sounded like the truth.

p.259: another ground tug rumbled by, hooks emptied of whichever ship it had just placed in dock.

Tugs carry ships out to a launching pad. Where they are docked is not where they land or take off.

p.309: The M’hir, in which Clan power dipped and mingled, through which image and form could be sent at the speed of thought […] As a di Sarc, Rael’s power was several magnitudes greater than his. And suds learned early to protect themselves.

p.311: Those Chosen were often cruel to those still ruled by need. Barac hoped to be amused and cruel himself one day.

p.317: Clan children knew today’s girl would be tomorrow’s Chooser, driven when adult to test any unChosen male’s mastery of the M’hir, to challenge that mastery with her unique power, to kill the weak with a thought.

p.318: Win or even hold your own, and a Chooser’s Power-of-Choice would turn from weapon to a promise of paradise. Win or tie, and become one in the Joining, the forming of a permanent bond through the M’hir, connected across distance, mated for life, guaranteed a future.

Lose, and die.

p.320: Chooser waited like buds for the stroke of spring, unchanging, unable to flower within the warmth of Joining, as if frozen in time.

p.325: “Sira knows I sometimes forget her pain and think only of my pride.” [Rael]

p.355: “I offer you Choice, Captain Morgan,” I heard myself say. “I offer myself.”

p.480: “It’s pre-Stratification, isn’t it?” […] “He cared about our glorious history. He would talk for hours about the day the M’hiray were uplifted from the common clay of the Clan – the day our ancestors became Gods.”

p.481: Barac frowned at the disrespect in Rael’s voice. Her mother might be Mirim sud Teerac, and no longer the first Chosen of her household, but she was still a formidable presence. Her link to her first offspring, Sira, had remained strong and fruitful for close to two decades, generating power channels through the M’hir that helped bridge the gap for many other M’hiray between Sira’s foster home on Camos and Mirim’s home on the rich inner planet, Stonerim III.

p.482: searching for the lost Homeworld and its so-called M’hir free life – the location of which all knew the Clan Council had refused to share -

p.483: “But there is a Clan Homeworld, Rael. A place where this metal was mined and crafted. […] And I can believe that if this place still exists, the Clan who could not touch the M’hir probably have folktales of their own about us, the M’hiray. The brave and powerful First Families – 730 of the new breed of Choosers and their Chosen – who gathered together during the stratification of our kind and simply left.”

p.484: “Doubtless the Council knows your answers and by the Prime Law the rest of us will be informed if the past ever matters again.”

p.488: whoever is Watching the M’hir will taste it

p.541: “I’m pure stock, too. I can recite twenty generations of ancestors, right back to First Ship.”

p.631: Huido’s cook had ignored me, busy with a masterpiece insistent on crawling out of the pot.

This isn’t significant in the main plot of the book, I just think it’s a great line.

p.811: “I should take you to Cenabar for total reconstruction. This obsession with Humans – it’s warped your mind, Barac. They are nothing!”

p.814: Think about it, Rael. Is it really impossible? Or have we seen no talent like ours among them because the Council keeps its fingers spread to detect any troubling of the M’hir – and is ready to “alter” any Human mind that approaches it. We’ve been taught that the Stratification took place because the Talent appeared in a few choosers, then spread to more each generation, until our ancestors no longer had a common goal with the unTalented. What if that development had been stopped? What would we be now?”

p.818: her power as a Chooser

p.1005: Something inside, something a part of me, was capable of acting on its own. Those actions, not mine, were the source of the Clan’s concern.

p.1008: I would not be controlled by some mindless force of instinct.

p.1014: The darkness buried deep within me had indeed made its Choice. […] Jason Morgan, though he was mercifully unaware of it, had been chosen by that obscenity within in.

p.1031: Again a node of knowledge quietly coalesced. This scrap, so carefully preserved, was all that remained of the personal effect of my great-grandmother, First Chosen of the House of S’udlaat, the leader of the M’hiray during the Stratification.

p.1061: “When are females are ready to mature, they are driven to search the M’hir for a mate – we call them Choosers.” A moment’s longing filled Barac’s voice. “Choosers assess the power of any unChosen male who comes near. But Joining, the life-pairing through the M’hir, is only possible with a mate of equal of superior strength. Lesser males – lose.” another brief hesitation as Barac searched for the right words. “in my great-great-grandfather’s time, losing meant, at worst, loneliness. In the last few generations, as our Chooses have grown more powerful, losing has meant death.”

p.1070: The unChosen feel the need for Choice, too.” Barac’s voice went softer for a moment, caught by his own feelings. “you’ve seen insects fly to a flame? The power of a Chooser within the M’hir is like tat to us. And the stronger the Chooser, the brighter the flame.”

p.1071: “Chose can only be offered, Human, from Chooser to unChosen. The risk is the male’s. We cannot force our females – as your species is known to do.”

p.1098: She’ll drag you into the void and leave you there to die. And it wouldn’t be Sira – your destroyer would be a mindlessness, an instinct, less under her control than the orbit of this planet.

p.1107: The blackness within me, the obscene mindless force, wasn’t bound by Yihtor’s drug.

p.1139: Sira has mastered the Power-of-Choice.

p.1215: No-one ever attempted to lock stasis release to joining before, to bind a mind past the moment of Choice.

I still don’t quite get this. I get the first part, but not the second.

p.1221: “A mind in stasis after Choice and Commencement must surely be unique.”

Meaning Sira still having her memory all bound and locked up for all that she’s Chosen Morgan and started to change physically has never happened before?

p.1229: Sira’s Power-of-Choice must finish its attempt to Join with the Human through the M’hir.

p.1231: “What Morgan feels isn’t based on some outlandish instinct. He loves me.”

p.1237: His daughter’s passion for numbers, for the obscure sciences of populations and growth was too unClanlike to be generally acceptable, but harmless. […] When her research had exhausted all of the information she could access about living members of the Clan, she had started her quest to see the records from the Stratification and before. […] The Stratification itself had been a deliberate attempt to separate those bearing the genetic code for entering the M’hir from those who did not. The Clan had always had Choosers and mental linkage between mated pairs before maturation. But the new breed of Chooser whose abilities were amplified through the M’hir were deadly to any but others of the same ability. It hadn’t taken long for all to realize that candidates for the new Choosers had to be preselected for their own safety. […] Stratification marked not social change among the Clan, but a major force in its evolution as a species. By dispersing the new Choosers and their mates, now calling themselves M’hiray, from the Homeworld, a new incompatible species had arisen.

p.1242: The power to manipulate the M’hir was becoming concentrated: pooling in fewer, though stronger individuals, with the remainder of the population excluded from bearing children. Council policies regarding Choice and reproduction had only accelerated the process. And this process had one inevitable ending.

p.1243: A Chooser who could not find a mate was the first step on a downward spiral of population decline. There was no escape. The crash was inevitable and the M’hiray were a doomed experiment, not a new species.

p.1243: A return to the old ways, of Choosers assessing every unChosen male, was more than unthinkable: at best it could only slow the decline, and at a cost to terrible to consider by a sapient species.

Because the males would die?

p.1244: hybridize with a compatible telepathic humanoid species, Human themselves perhaps or any species without the Power-of-Choice. The most favourable outcome could be a new race, retaining M’hiray ability to use the M’hir, but freed at last from the deadly consequences of Choice.

At worst, a means might have been found to bring Choosers to Commencement without costing more M’hiray lives. […] Commenced by contact with aliens, breeder who would hold off the end of their species until a better, more lasting solution could be found. At the very least, the mothers and their offspring could continue to enhance the M’hir for the remaining M’hiray.

p.1246: I’d never been this woman who almost casually predicted the species of her kind, and as easily, suggested the p;potential deaths of others as a solution.

So idea is that Choice with an alien would lead to Commencement (and therefore reproduction) even if the alien in question died in the process?

p.1246: She was believed by, or at least made uneasy, enough of those on the Council to set in motion a test of her proposed solution. […] But never to interbreed with another species – that heresy was too much for any of them. The Choice offered would be in the ancient manner. Knowing I would kill them, Council still suggested I be exposed to any and all unChosen males, one after another if necessary, in hopes of inducing Commencement. Once Commenced, Sira di Sarc would at least be physically capable of bearing young. Her incredible must not be lost from the M’hiray.

And the drive of the Power-of-Choice for a Joining through the M’hir? The Council proposal rushed from Jarad’s emotionless and clear memory to the horror-filled turmoil of my own. An erased mind can’t heed the dictates of Choice.

Okay this is the bit that still confuses me, this “dictates of Choice”. Is it that by erasing the mind, the female in question is no longer trying to Choose? That without a Joining, the Power-of-Choice is going to keep trying to best any unChosen male it/she comes across?

Does this mean that the Council’s idea was pretty much to do what Yithor planned – to set Commencement going through contact with an alien telepath (because who cares if he dies?), the wipe the mind of the Chooser (ie Sira) so she is no longer dangerous and breed from her?

p.1250: “But you must understand, Sira, that unless your mission turns out to be totally successful, they will order you erased and mated to their selection. You need Morgan. You must finish what you’ve begun.”

ie. Go through to a Joining?

p.1259: “They hoped a Choice made with a Human – “ her lips twisted around the word, “that such a Choice would induce a Commencement without the linkage of a true Joining.

Again we come back to how much everything – Choice, Commencement, Joining – is required to be linked together.

p.1323: You aren’t responsible for your actions, dear daughter. Just like your mother.


p.1344: Following the somgelt came the Testing. In Clan, Cenebar had told me, the Power-of-Choice within the Chooser tried to master the power of the unChosen candidate. The battleground was the nothingness of the M’hir; the aim of the unChosen, to survive the assault of the Chooser long enough to forge a permanent path – a Joining – through the M’hir.

p.1346: Having made a successful Joining, a Clanswoman entered the trancelike state during which her body would Commence, altering into its adult, reproductive form.

p.1355: A point came when I felt strangely light, utterfly free of the dark undercurrent and the strain of harnessing it. Morgan glowed and crackled with power before my amazed eyes. It was done. And not by contest, but as a gift.

Is this a new way? Not to assault the unChosen, but to freely give. But this does require a Chosen who can master the Power-of-Choice and Sira might be the only one who can.

What isn’t addressed in this book – hopefully it will be in the next one – is what gaining Sira’s Power-of-Choice will do to Morgan and what form that power will take in him.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Notes for Ashling by Isobelle Carmody

Carmody, Isobelle - Ashling

Review here.

(Page numbers are for eReader on my PDA and therefore will be useless to most people. My apologies for that, but this is how I read the book.)

p.84: Th’ answer was in th’ plast sheets. Th’ Reichler clinic were bein’ investiagated by a powerful organization called Govamen, which was connected to huge weapon-tradin’ houses that made a profit out of sellin’ weaponmachines.

p.86: “This was the symbol of th’ research cell from Govamen.”

He stopped to point to a tiny picture atop one of the plasts. It showed three miniscule birds flying in an endless spiral around a word I could not interpret.

p.88: “The section is Govamen that used his as their mark” – Fian tapped the design - “had apparently gone a lot futher in its paranormal research than simply testin’ th’ minds of volunteers. It had actually tried to alter th’ brains of animals to produce artifical Talents. Seems they had some spectacular initial results that came to nowt.”

p.350: …a pale shining room. She/we are looking at a man with skin as black and polished as an old tree root. He wears odd clothing. His eyes are frightened. He takes her/us by the shoulders and shakes her/us hard.

“We have not choice, Emma,” he whispers. “We have to escape. Their actions have already set it all in motion.”

“But if what Cassandra foresaw is to happen, we will give them what they seek,” she/we say.

“She said one of our number will give in. One will reveal what we have kept hidden. But it need not be you or me. We can escape.”

Emma/we opens her/our mouth. “But where can we go? There will be radiation sickness when it comes – better to die at once.”

“There are places that won’t be hit so badly, where humanity will go on. We will join them. But Cassandra said we must make sure no one ever knows about us or what we can do.”

“Oh God, why? Tell me what this has to happen?” Emma/we cry hysterically.

The man squeezes her/our arm awkwardly, as if he is not used to such gestures. “I don’t know. Come with the rest of us. We’re going to the Reichler Clinic first. Hannah and Jacob believe the mountains will be safe…”

Is this Elspeth’s first vision of the Beforetime? It seems to be.

p.362: into one of the racial memories that Maryon said arose occasionally from the midstream like bubbles.

p.365: “Maruman guards the dreamtrails.”

p.538: I stared at the elaborate painting on the inside of his wrist and up his arm. Three birds were depicted flying in a spiral of black and green, shot through with red.

My mouth fell open with astonishment – it was the exact design Garth had shown me on the plast documents from the Reichler Clinic!

Since this was the logo of the paranormal research branch of the Govamen, what does this say about the Twentyfamilies gypsies?

p.540: This is a mark worn only by those of the Twentyfamilies and entitles us to pass through the gates of any city unsearched and untouched.

Does this mean this is a link between the Govamen and the council? What does it mean historically?

p.570: “The H’rayka searches in the dreamtrails of ElspethInnle, and I have fought many battles to guard the way.”

Abruptly, I was wide awake.

“Maruman, who/what is H’rayka?”

“H’rayka is the one who brings destruction,” the cat sent.

I felt a rush of pure terror. Atthis had told me that if I did not find the weaponmachines and disable them, another human, whose fate path twinned my own, would locate and activate them, raining a new doom on the world. She had called this person “the Destroyer.”

I’m guessing this is Ariel.

P.740: the gypsies had come from the sea, led by one who had vanished when they reached the Land.

p.1213: “Why would anyone want to build a city under the ground?”

“Because of the whiteface.” Maruman’s sleepy thought drifted into my mind.

The moon?

p.1249: I was mute with astonishment, for other than the crisscross reddening left by the bandage, my skin was utterly without mark of discoloration.

Further – and the clearest – indication of Elspeth’s new healing abilities. Or at least, self-healing. Where did they come from? The Guanette birds when hey healed her legs?

p.1253: Then the same woman was slumped in the carved chair. Her hair was red like Dragon’s…

Is this Dragon’s repressed memory? Does she come from somewhere other than the Land?

p.1260: kamuli


p.1282: “Do you bring the Moonwatcher?” he whispered fiercely.


p.1413: “The games were staged to determine who were the greater warriors and whether the Misfits and their unusual powers were worthy of alliance. The answer is that the rebels are clearly far more fitted to warfare than the Misfits. They have shaped their souls for aggression and quicken to violence as a gravid mare quickens with new life. The rebel legions, if they are truly represented by these men, are made for battle. No instinct of battle would restrain them, no compassion stay their hand, no love of beauty keep them from destruction. The Battlegames have shown them to be swift, decisive, ruthless, and resourceful. They are filled with the warrior’s desire to dominate and subdue.

“As for the Misfits, if they are truly represented by these before me, they are no warriors. They care too much for life and for one another. They are not stirred by the glories of war, and the shedding of lifeblood brings them sorrow, whether it be of beast or human, friend or foe. All their instincts are for defense, and so their great powers are all but useless in the cause of war. They are not cowardly or weak, but their minds appear incapable of allowing their great powers to serve them as weapons.

“Witness that they used the incredible ability that they call empathy to its greatest effect in a song, rather than to turn their enemies’ hearts to terror. They will never have the rebels’ single-mindedness of purpose, nor, therefore, their driving force, because they cannot see things in terms of simple goals.”

He turned in the dead silence wrought by his oratory and faced the rebels. “We here is Sador value the earth above all life – humans and beasts alike are short-lived and unimportant. This you know. We thought that Landfolk valued their own lives too much, regarding themselves as the chosen of their Lud. But these Misfits seem to value all life, and this is strange for us to contemplate. But thing you this: You rebels opposed alliance with the Misfits, because you thought them monsters an inhuman. Ask yourselves now which team has this day shown the keenest humanity and which has shown itself to be more monstrous.”

The old man pause; then he said in a voice drained of all vitality, “I declare the rebels the victors of the Battlegames.”

p.1418: I dreamed of the Agyllian healer, Nerat, telling me that she would teach my body to heal itself.

p.1428: Dazed, I did not move. “Who did this?”

He came back a few steps, reluctantly. “Kasanda. Now will you come?”

Kasanda = Cassandra? She is clearly important.

p.1431: the panel showed one of the Beforetime cities. […] The panel was a paean of praise to the Beforetimers.

p.1432: The next also featured the towering Beforetime structures, but they were subtly different. After only a moment of admiration, I noticed not the buildings but the way they crushed and smothered the earth. I saw the caged and stunted trees devoid of sunlight. I realized that this panel spoke not of greatness but of soaring, overweening pride and, most of all, oppression. The Beforetimers had gouged and yoked and reshaped the very earth of their creations.

p.1433: Not content to despoil the earth, the Beforetimers had smeared the skies with their messes.

p.1434: I moved to another panel and here at last were scenes of the Great White. Seen thus, it seemed to me that the holocaust had been inevitable, given the nature of the Beforetimers. Howe else could their story have ended, but with men and women and beasts and birds fleeing in terror from the huge fiery mushrooms that rose in the skies behind them? And then the whiteness faded, there were panels of utter desolation – sere deserts and poisoned waters: the Blacklands.

p.1437: “There is a story,” the boy said dreamily. “It tells of one who will come from across the sea in search of the fifth sign of Kasanda.”

p.1438: I have Kasanda’s gift of true dreaming, and so I am sometimes called a kasanda. But the first Kasanda is the one who dreamed of the Seeker.”

p.1439: Kasanda told my people that the Seeker would bear the Moonwatcher and be borne by the Daywatcher, who is the color of shadows.

Elspeth, Maruman and Galtha?

p.1440: “It is said Kasanda took the signs from her dreams and strewed them across the lands so that they should not be found except by the Seeker. There are rumors that they lead to the deepest treasures of the Beforetimers. Still others say they are the key to a power that is great enough to shift the stars, and even quench them.”

p.1441: I know that when the Seeker journeys forth with the Day watcher and Moonwatcher, and with one of Kasanda blood, they will be looking for the final sign. Then may the kasanda, who is the overguardian, aid them.”

p.1463: We had learned what it truly cost to be warriors. We had learned that the price was too high.

Losing the Battlegames had been the best thing that could have happened to us.

The Misfits need to introduce a new way of being human – working with the beasts is a start to that – and not join with any of the old ways?

p.1469: what we learned in the Battlegames was important. We needed to know what we couldn’t do so that we could begin to think of what we can do. Remember Maryon said this journey had something to do with finding the right road? Can’t you see that we’ve done that?”

p.1484: Rushton reached out and gripped his shoulder. “Dameon, I… I know why you would remain here.”

To my surprise, the empath had flushed. “Then you must let me stay.”


p.1493: “But there are five secrets to be uncovered, and I must one day return to Sador, and I must stand in battle with a gypsy whose life is bound to mine. These things will not happen in a moment, and so there is time in the midst of this for me to live.”

p.1494: I have learned that happiness is like the sun. It must be enjoyed when it comes and while it shines.