You can see Naithin’s Part 3 post, and the links to the other blogs taking part, here.
This week we have read up to the end of Chapter 34.
1. Lightsong is beginning to remember his past, or at least, what he thinks is his past. Why do you think this knowledge is coming to him now, after five years as a Returned?
It seems like the murder has triggered a series of innate talents and unremembered patterns of behavior in him. That feeling of rightness and ability has set Lightsong thinking about the skills that he has carried over from his previous life. I really like the idea of him trying totally random skills to see if he can do them. I also like his confusion over the juggling: it seems that he does not understand that people might have skills that are recreational rather than linked to their profession. Of course, he could have been a very brave juggler, who died whilst juggling heroically . . . but I doubt it!
2. In this section, Viveena has learned a lot about herself, and not necessarily to her liking. How do you think the new knowledge will change her going forward?
It seems like she has made a few decisions about she wants to achieve and what she is willing to do. In realizing these things about herself she is developing greater flexibility and inner strength. Considering how much she has had to rethink her attitudes and beliefs this is an amazing achievement. In many ways she has become much more tolerant and less judgmental, this will help her to recognize and use the resources at her command. I was amazed that she could feel sympathy and concern for Clod, and I think that marked a real turning point in her thinking.
3. From the beginning of the book, both the Idrians and Lightsong have been telling us that the Returned aren't Gods, and that the Hallendren religion is untrue. Now, though, we've had a few other different perspectives: Jewels' vehement faith in the God King, the God King's own belief in his divinity, and finally, Hoid's collection of historical stories. Given the new information, have your ideas about religion in this book changed? How do you view it now?
It would seem that the Returned might be a natural phenomenon, which would make it easy to assign their existence to their being gods, or at least the messengers of gods. However, the discussion about the modern Lifeless and ‘other’ types of Lifeless had me wondering, along with Denth’s comment that they retain some of their skills. What if the Returned are these other Lifeless, the ones with more than one Breath? If that is true, then they are not gods at all and are simply instruments of the priesthood. I suppose it all depends on what you mean by a ‘god’. The Returned are certainly not omnipotent and all knowing, which is usually expected of a god, but it is too soon to tell if they are the gods of this world.
I am certainly very cynical of the priesthood because they keep a ruthless control on the source of their power and because they keep so many secrets from the Returned. I assume that those secrets hold great power that the priests want to retain.
4. Denth says, "Every man is a hero in his own story." What do you make of this, especially given Denth and Vasher's apparent rivalry, and Vivenna and Siri's different perspectives of life in Hallendren and the Gods' court?
Every story is one person’s account of events that they personally witnessed. However, every person has a different perspective of events and so each story of an event is slightly different. Depending on their past experience, two people can see an event in totally different ways. For example, history paints Adolf Hitler as an evil megalomaniac, but those people who knew him and followed him would not see him that way. As we do not know anything about the history between Denth and Vasher it is difficult to make a guess at the ‘truth’ of their history. As for Vivenna and Siri, their differing perspectives are influenced by their experiences both before and after arriving in T’Telir. It is easy to see the God King as a monstrosity if you have never met him face to face, just as it easy to expect the Idrians to all be down-trodden but heroic freedom fighters rather than thieves and prostitutes.
I have a sneaky suspicion Clod might have been Arsteel
I am having a little trouble accepting the God King as a total innocent, but it fits with his upbringing. I particularly liked his assertion that a man and wife just being together was where babies come from: that is so adorably sweet!