Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Armchair BEA 2012 June 4th-8th

Next week I will be taking part in Armchair BEA 2012 because I cannot attend the actual BEA event in New York.

The Agenda

Monday, June 4th: Introductions First!

Tuesday, June 5th: Giveaways Everywhere!

Wednesday, June 6th: Networking ... In Real Life?!

Thursday, June 7th: Beyond the Blog

Friday, June 8th: The Future of Book Blogging

Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

My Rating: 4.5 / 5.0

First, I should point out that I read this book as part of a very enjoyable Read Along hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings. I was surprised by how many of those involved had read the book before, which I always think is a good recommendation. 

The Final Empire received its name because the Lord Ruler intended it to be the last government that the world would ever know. He created it one thousand years ago, after he saved the world from the Deepness at the Well of Ascension. He now rules his Empire as a god, the Sliver of Infinity. He is immortal and invincible, ruling with an iron fist.

The Empire is a grim place, with volcanic ash constantly falling from the sky and covering everything in a choking layer. At night, thick mist swirls across the land hiding terrible Mistwraiths that can take over a person’s mind. The enslaved Skaa work in the fields and the factories, producing everything for their Noble overlords, while they are kept in constant terror of their god and his terrible wrath. Disobedience will be met by pain and injury or death. For the very worst criminals the Lord Ruler has a special punishment, to be condemned to the Pits of Hathsin. All who have been sent to the Pits have died, all except one man: Kelsier. The tortures of the Pits caused Kelsier to ‘snap’, awakening the powers of the Mistborn within him. He can now use the powers of allomancy to fight to free the people from the Lord Ruler’s reign of terror.

Before being thrown into the Pits, Kelsier was a master thief, and so he assembles a group of equally talented, but morally questionable, persons to help his rebellion. Each of them is half-Skaa, half-Noble: the illegal product of Noble men impregnating Skaa women. Although these women are supposed to be killed after they have been ‘used’, many Nobles prefer to keep them alive, even though the offspring have the potential to carry their fathers’ allomantic abilities. Most of these Mistings have only one of the allomantic powers, however, Kelsier discovers a ragged orphan girl who is another Mistborn, able to use all of the powers, just as he can. With Vin at his side he may just have all the power he needs to finally remove the Lord Ruler from his throne.

I had never read of Brandon Sanderson’s books before this one, but I had heard that he had been chosen to complete Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. This led me to expect a fantasy of book with great depth and detail. I was not disappointed at all.

The world that we encounter has a lot in common with ours, but the differences are startling and profound. For example, the slavery depicted is so much more entrenched and  ruthlessly enforced than many examples in our history. The Skaa are non-people, with no possibility of truly rising above their position. This has similarities with the fate of African slaves in the US, who were easily identified because of their skin color. Although the Skaa look exactly like the Nobles, there is the same prejudice about the production of hybrids, with religious dictates that call for Skaa women to be killed immediately after they have served their purpose. The fact that this does not stop some Nobles from having children by Skaa mistresses is another point of similarity to the hypocrisy shown by many American slave owners. However, the biggest difference I can see between the Skaa and any slaves on Earth is that they are totally lacking in hope. After one thousand years of total and absolute subjugation they are almost totally incapable of showing rebellion.

At first glance, the Final Empire would seem to be pretty similar to Medieval Europe. However, this is a world where no living person has seen a green leaf or a colorful flower. The ever-present ash drains the color from everything and the plants have changed to cope with the lack of direct sunlight. This, and the impossibility of keeping things clean, creates a constantly depressing sense of hopelessness. The daylight hours are spent in the endless battle to move the ash out of the way whilst the night is a time of fear for the mist that covers everything. The whole world feels so claustrophobic that I am amazed that the Skaa have not chosen to commit mass suicide in an effort to escape their drudgery. However, we find that other races have been forced to submit to castration and breeding programs, so perhaps the Skaa are luckier than some.

Of course, the main difference is the presence of magic in this world. I do not want to say too much about how the system works, because it was a true joy to see it revealed slowly as Kelsier taught Vin how to use her powers. It is perhaps the most original magic system that I have ever read (see the note below), and involves the use of a variety of metals to power certain abilities. It is visually stunning and creates very exciting and enthralling fight sequences. One thing that I really liked about it is that it has weaknesses. If you run out of a metal you need during a fight then you are stuffed and things can go horribly wrong very quickly. It also has interesting implications for armor and what weapons you should carry, or not, as the case may be.

I found the Prologue and the first few chapters difficult to get through, possibly due to an overload of new information and concepts. However, after that, Mr Sanderson paints a wonderful picture of his world, with just the right amount of detail. We are given enough knowledge about most things, so that we feel informed without being overburdened. This is a delicate balancing act and sometimes he does fall slightly on the side of not answering all my questions. However, as there are two more books in the series, I hope that most of my questions will be answered in time. Indeed, the book does not read like the first part of a series. It does not seem to be setting the scene for action that will only arrive in later volumes and reaches a relatively tidy resolution. The plot does accelerate towards the end and I was fearful that we would be left with a cliffhanger ending, but this book could be read as a stand-alone without too much feeling left dangling. Of course, once you have read this volume you will want to read the other two, but I still appreciated the way it ended.

The plot itself nips along at a fair pace, with lots of action and movement. There is always something new to discover and detail to enjoy. We have a wide cast of characters doing interesting and surprising things to keep us turning those pages. The dialogue is witty and poignant as necessary while the visuals are stunning. The action sequences will leave you breathless and amazed by their originality. However, this is not a flippant or fluffy read. As I said above, this is a terribly cruel world and there are moments of real danger and deep sadness. The plot does not go where you expect it to, but twists around to produce something so much more interesting than your typical fantasy. Lisa, at Starmetal Oak Reviews, notes that we begin with what seems to be a simple heist plot, but that soon changes into something much more complex and, ultimately, more satisfying.

So, we have a wonderful world and an exciting plot that keep you up late at night. These are matched by a set of memorable characters that are wonderfully imperfect and, therefore, totally sympathetic. Nobody is a mere tool of the plot: everyone feels real and has understandable motivations for their actions, even the Lord Ruler. We have Kelsier, who tries to present himself as a Robin Hood / Captain Jack Sparrow type of charismatic leader. However, as we slowly learn, he has more depth than that and is a very interesting character all by himself. Then there is Vin, the wary orphan who cannot understand Kelsier’s ability to trust his friends. Following her progress is wonderful, and at the end of the book she is almost unrecognizable as the person we met at the beginning.

The rest of the gang is rounded out by equally fascinating people. Ham is the philosophizing heavy, constantly bickering with Breeze, who is a pompous manipulator. Dockson is the ever put-upon bookkeeper and organizer, who makes Kelsier’s plans become reality, while Clubs is the obligatory Grumpy Old Man who is always happy to look on the downside of every situation. Outside the gang there is Elend Venture, a privileged young Noble who pointedly reads books at social events because it annoys his father. However, my favorite character is Sazed a Terris Keeper who specializes in remembering the details of most of the religions that existed before the Lord Ruler outlawed them all. He has many of the characteristics of a good English butler, but is much, much more interesting. As Grace says at Books Without Any Pictures, all the characters are complex, even the minor ones.

As I said above, I struggled a little with the opening, but this was a very enjoyable read and a great introduction to an interesting author.

I can also recommend these reviews:

Since finishing this book I have begun to read Mr Sanderson’s Warbreaker, which has an even more amazing and unique magic system: you should check it out! I am currently involved in the Read Along hosted by Once Upon A Time.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Read Along of Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson: Part 1

You can see Amanda and Naithin’s Part 1 post, and the links to the other blogs taking part, here.

This week we have read up to the end of Chapter 12.

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?

The book caught me up straightaway and I am having a very difficult time not reading ahead of the schedule.

We have met some interesting characters, but the thing that is driving my interest at the moment is the amazing magic system. Wow! I was impressed with the world building in Mistborn: The Final Empire, but this has really blown me away. It is such a sideways move from our own world that I am delighting in every new scene and character.

At the moment I am most interested by Vasher and Nightblood: there is so much that I want to know about these two! How did they meet? How was Nightblood created? How does it kill people? What are they doing in T’Telir? What? Why? Who? How? Where? When?

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 guess it depends what you mean by ‘divine’. The certainly seem to be divine in that they could be immortal if they kept taking a Breath every week and they are superhuman in size and possibly other ways as well. Many religions worship gods that require sacrifice from their followers, although the fact that they need something so intensely personal from their worshippers does seem strange. I was intrigued by the suggestion that they are only Gods until they find someone for whom they will sacrifice themselves.

I can understand why a religion would grow up around people who return from the dead: it seems like a very logical step to take for the rest of society. However, it seems that the Returned are now so removed from that society that they are in danger of losing touch with their purpose in coming back. It is hard to imagine Blushweaver sacrificing herself for anyone. It seems very important that they are kept ignorant of their previous lives, so we do not know if their characters change in the process of Returning. I would like to know why their dreams are considered to be prophetic: are their examples of them coming true?

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?

I am not at all sure that he is as all-powerful as the priests say he is. He certainly seems to be much more tolerant of Siri than we were led to believe. I loved her little outburst:
Will you please just get on with it?
I guess he finds her interesting or amusing enough to not kill her, but at the moment he seems to be involved with doing a huge amount of nothing.

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

It seems like it will be a person or thing that can end a war, but I have no idea who or what it is. I find that I am very unsuccessful at predicting what will happen in Mr Sanderson’s books! :)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Read Along of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman: Part 2

You can see Carl’s Part 2 post, and the links to the other blogs taking part, here.

This week we have read up to the end of Chapter 12.

1.  Chapter 6 begins with Richard chanting the mantra, "I want to go home".  How do you feel about Richard and his reactions at this point to the unexpected adventure he finds himself on?

It reminded me a little of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz: “There’s no place like home!”

Richard seems to have got past the initial blast of confusion and is now starting to wonder if this will be his life from now on. I can understand why he is very scared and getting increasingly angry about the change in his circumstances. He feels like a very real person to me, and his reactions are perfectly understandable, so I sympathize with him a lot.

2.  The Marquis de Carabas was even more mysterious and cagey during the first part of this week's reading.  What were your reactions to him/thoughts about him as you followed his activities?

At first I thought he had betrayed Door and was actually the person employing Messers Croup and Vandemar, so I was relieved when that was not the case. I am very impressed by how much he knows about the world and so he knows exactly how to bribe everyone he encounters. For example, how does he just happen to have a whistle to play the most attractive tune in the world, and its antidote? It seems like his coat is like a Bag of Holding in the D&D universe, with unlimited storage space. Also, I really want to know what was in the box that he gave Old Bailey for safekeeping.

3.  How did you feel about the Ordeal of the Key?

Well, it did not make a great deal of sense to me. I assume that the challenge was to not commit suicide, but it was very confusing and disorientating. I am surprised that Richard came out of it without massive paranoia. I would also like to know how the friars knew that he had been in there long enough. I am not sure that Door or Hunter would have done any better than Richard, so perhaps he was destined to fulfill this role in their Quest. I was nicely surprised that Anesthesia’s bead did have some significance.

4.  This section of the book is filled with moments.  Small, sometimes quite significant, moments that pass within a few pages but stick with you.  What are one or two of these that you haven't discussed yet that stood out to you, or that you particularly enjoyed.

The Messers having been around for the Sack of Troy did jump out at me a little. So they are seriously old, as that is more than three thousand years ago, and they can move by teleporting from place to place. That suggests that they are possibly demons or even characters somewhat similar to the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Lovely!

Mr Croup eats fine china and has an almost orgasmic reaction to the process. Well, that’s not strange at all, is it? In fact, it makes Mr Vandemar look a little boring when he bites the heads off small mammals.

Serpentine was almost a throw away character, but seemed to be someone very dangerous. She knows more about Hunter: perhaps she was the person who created the curse to keep Hunter below ground.

Door had a throw away line that suddenly made me realize something very important that I had missed earlier. Who hid her father’s recording sphere? We clearly see his death on it, so he could not have hidden it himself.

5.  Any other things/ideas that you want to talk about from this section of the book?

I like how the worlds of Londons Above and Below keep colliding. The bizarre Earl’s Court explains blacked out carriages that Richard has often seen on the Underground, although I do wonder if the missing items from the vending machines are ever noticed. I liked the scene with Jessica and the reception in the Museum, where Richard tells her who he is very bluntly. That was a nice touch, as was the inability for anyone to stay focused on Door and Richard for more than a few minutes.

I am intrigued by the idea that all big cities have a Below under them. I want to know how Hunter has managed to travel between the cities: did she move above ground or below?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Challenge of Ice and Fire: Week 8

A Clash of Kings: Arya III to the end of Tyrion IV (p. 278)

My previous posts on A Clash of Kings:   week 7

9. Arya III

In the aftermath of the encounter with the Gold Cloaks, Arya shoots down suggestions that Gendry could be Ned’s bastard. It is interesting that Lommy immediately thinks of that reason for their interest in Gendry, even though he has the wrong father. I love her feistiness, but I do wish that she could be a little less rash sometimes. I was waiting for someone to ask why she would know anything about Ned’s bastards, but her comment was ignored, thank goodness. The encounter with the wolves was encouraging, as I hope this means that we will see the return of Nymeria: Arya needs all the help that she can get. The desolation of the farmlands and the lack of food both reinforce the problems that we see in King’s Landing. It is also fairly scary when even Yoren is worried about the road ahead. However, the destruction of the village where they find the little girl is enough to scare any sane person.

10. Davos I

Davos is a very intriguing character, although I still cannot understand why he helped Stannis during the siege. The burning of the religious icons seems like a very rash move as it could alienate many of Stannis’ allies, although they seem to be too scared of Melisandre to rebel. I am genuinely surprised that Stannis agreed to go through the farce of collecting the ‘burning sword’. It is obviously not magical and neither was his recovery of it: if you are the ‘chosen one’, surely you do not walk out of the flames with your clothes on fire. I can only assume that Stannis is trying to placate Melisandre so that she will continue to support him. Whatever his reasons, it seems like a cynical act. Stannis also seems to be somewhat stupid, declaring Cersei’s children to be bastards without any concrete proof, never mind that he might possibly be stirring up a religious war as well. He is so self-righteous that he refuses to think about the implications of his actions. However, I hope he wins so that I can see Salladhor Saan get his night with Cersei! :)

11. Theon I

Theon continues to be a repellent character. His treatment of the ship’s captain and his daughter is both cruel and unnecessary. I can only hope that his arrogance will lead to a painful downfall. As we learn more about the Iron Islanders, he seems to fit in quite nicely with their worldview. They seem like a less civilized version of the Vikings: happily stealing what other people work hard to grow or make as if that is their right. I am amazed that Ned and Robert let this bunch of grim bastards live after the rebellion. However, I do have to like Lord Balon for one thing: he and his even grimmer brother burst Theon’s bubble of arrogant self-importance pretty quickly. It is hard to think of the Starks as soft and lordly, but in comparison to Lord Balon they look as effete as Varys. It seems like Theon’s wonderful future, as foretold by the comet sent to signal it, will have to be put on hold for now.

12. Daenerys I

How ironic to name the little gold dragon after Viserys in the hope that it can do better than him. As a leader, Daenerys is having a really tough time of it, although her khalasar are remarkably compliant. No one blames her for leading them off into an endless desert where many of them drop dead. I am not sure if this is due to stoicism or simple hopelessness. Their discovery of the destroyed city is fortunate, saving them all from certain death, but it almost seems to good to be true, especially when we hear about other similar cities nearby. It was good to learn more of Ser Jorah’s backstory, although his second wife sounds like a horribly spoiled brat. It is sad that he has fallen for Daenerys, as she will break his heart by not returning his affections. 

Is it just me, or does it seem a little dangerous to declare that you have dragons without knowing who you are talking to? I loved the description of the camels that the representatives from Qarth are riding, but I would be more cautious than Daenerys around people who include a self-styled warlock.

13. Jon II

The villages beyond the Wall are deserted, with no sign of where the Wildling occupants have gone. However, they do not seem to have been turned into wights, so at least everyone can sleep relatively safely. It is even creepier that most of the animals have left as well: and yet the Brothers continue to ignore these signs and carry on with their searching. I like the fact that Sam has managed to become less panic-stricken now that he is actually in mortal danger: but I predict brown trousers when they do eventually get attacked. Of course, they could just throw Dolorous Edd at the enemy to bore them to death! :D

14. Arya IV

Well, it was a good plan to sleep in the fortified part of the village, just a shame that some roving rapists decided to show up and kill everyone. It seems like some of Lord Tywin’s men are having way too much fun to be bothered with the ancient agreement of neutrality that rules the Night’s Watch. If this is how Joffrey’s forces are behaving then they are doing a great job of recruiting for the other armies that are moving to oppose him. Arya and Gendry seem fairly capable in the fight, although I do wish she could have chosen something other than “Winterfell!” to yell repeatedly. I hope that her decision to free the three ‘gentlemen’ in the cart does not come back to haunt her, but my immediate concern is that she manages to escape.

15. Tyrion III

Oh look, another outburst of stupid stupidity from Cersei! This one actually had me shaking my head and chuckling at her tantrum. I am sure that in her head it makes sense that she stamps her feet and shouts and then things get done, but it all sounds so foolish out loud. Her ever so wise suggestion to ban people discussing the accusations in Stannis’ letter was also hilarious: I could almost see Tyrion rolling his eyes at that gem. Of course, the best response to the letter would be to make no response at all, but the decision is made to spread a rumor about Stannis’ daughter, poor kid.

What exactly does Tyrion need with his mighty chain? I am sure it will be more effective against their enemies than Cersei’s ranting. I also liked the way he handled the craftsmen: anyone would think that he has been ordering people about for years. I liked the cloak and dagger method for meeting up with Shea, but I am very wary of Tyrion trusting Varys. That Spider is as slippery as the slipperiest eel and will, no doubt, outlive everyone.

16. Bran II

I hate to say it, but this was a fairly boring chapter. We are shown the highly exciting life of the Lord of Winterfell and the petty disputes that he must make decisions about all the time. I felt so sorry for Bran as he sat through it all, and I was impressed that he stayed awake as well. There seems to be some problem with Roose Bolton’s bastard that will no doubt lead to unpleasantness later on. I felt a lot of sympathy for the recently widowed Lady Hornwood, who now has men fighting over her because she has no heir. At the end of the chapter, Bran finally remembers the events in the tower and knows how he fell. I am not sure if this will have any significance because there are already sufficient reasons for Robb to take out the Lannisters, but it is probably good that Bran has the memory. As this is accompanied by a reappearance of the three-eyed crow, I hope that this means something about Bran’s ability to dream as Summer.

17. Tyrion IV

Oh, Tyrion, you are a tricky little Imp! I see what you did there with Maester Pycelle and Littlefinger. I am beginning to enjoy watching Tyrion wield his power. He is just so wonderful and cunning. I wonder what drug he took from Pycelle’s room? Littlefinger claims to have deflowered both of the Tully sisters: disgusting little twerp. I can understand why Tyrion has an instinctive dislike for Littlefinger: he is so mercenary and self-serving. Tyrion has a certain pride and honor, and is instinctively affronted by Littlefinger’s brashness. I love the fact that Tyrion plays Varys by confirming what his ‘little birds’ have already reported. I cannot say that I am happy that Tyrion is using his niece and nephew as political pawns, but anything that gets them away from their terrible mother seems like a good idea. I was appalled to learn that Gregor Clegane had supposedly raped the Princess Elia before killing her: yet another reason for wanting to see his head on a spike!

We meet Cersei, who is very cross because Tyrion got rid of Ser Janos Slynt, and also that Renly is openly marching towards them. I particularly loved her comment about Tyrion making their father come to King’s Landing: as if he had a hope in hell of accomplishing that. She also wants him to rescue Jaime. Why not ask him to pull down the moon as well? The woman is so detached from reality that she is laughable.

I was surprised and disappointed that Tyrion refused to see Ser Alliser Thorne. I thought he would have put personal feelings aside to fulfill his promise to Mormont. Even though Ser Alliser is a jerk of the highest order, the Old Bear would not have sent him unless it was important. I suppose Tyrion is a little busy trying to save everyone in the city, so I will try to forgive him at the moment.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Read Along of Red Sea Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch: Part 5

You can see Redhead’s Part 5 post, and the links to the other blogs taking part, here.

The questions were supplied by Lynn At Lynn’s Book Blog

This week we have read up to the end of the book.

Before I get to my answers I would just like to say a huge “Thank you!” to all the hosts of this and the Lies of Locke Lamora Read Along. You have introduced me to a wonderful writer and a pair of books that I have enjoyed immensely. I also want to thank all the bloggers who took part: I have enjoyed every minute of our discussions and I look forward to reading more of your thoughtful and enjoyable posts. :)

1.       Oh my god, such a lot going on I thought the showdown between the Poison Orchid and the Sovereign was brilliantly written and they were holding their own until Utgar and his nasty device turned up.  Well a lot of you had kind of predicted it, and I suppose we’d been let off too easy so far in terms of deaths of well-liked characters  – but come on, did you expect something like that?  And how on earth will Jean ever recover?

I think a lot of us predicted that Ezri would not survive to the end of the book, so it was sort of unsurprising. However, for her to die in such a noble and self-sacrificing way was not at all what I had expected. I assume that many of you reacted as I did once it became obvious what was going to happen: I read in horror with tears rolling down my cheeks. In some ways it was a very beautiful death, because of why she chose to do it, but it was also incredibly sad.

Poor Jean. What can I say? He is destroyed and I have no idea how he is managing to go on. I am not sure that he will ever recover completely, as they seemed to share such deep bond. I do not think that he will ever love again. Of course, he might lose Locke as well soon, which will cheer him no end: Scott Lynch you total bastard!

2.       The deceit, the betrayal, first Rodanov and then Colvard.  Even now I’m not entirely sure I understand Colvard – Rodanov was never keen on the oath but Colvard seemed okay with it all and yet in this final deceit she was more devious than Rodanov – what do you think was her motive?

I am not quite sure how deceitful she was being there. It seemed like Rodanov had made up his mind about what he was going to do, and she knew what he was planning. If she had decided to stand against him she would probably have been defeated for no really good reason. To me it seemed more of a pragmatic action than real betrayal.

3.       Merrain – such a puzzle, no real answer, the mysterious tattoo, the determination to kill everyone to keep her identity and that of her master a secret.  Does anybody have any ideas where she’s from and what she’s up to exactly and who the hell is she working for??

Should we gather up these guesses and preserve them so that we can get them out and have a good laugh once the third book is published?

Looking at how the world expanded from LoLL to RSURS, I imagine that she is working for someone from a far distant country that has some vested interest in world politics. They were trying to destabilize or mess with the government of Tal Verrar for some reason that I cannot even begin to imagine. I doubt that it is the Bondsmagi or anyone we have met or has been mentioned, though I am probably wrong and she is working for Sabetha.

4.       Finally we get to the point of the GB’s latest scheme, all that elaborate planning for two years, fancy chairs, gambling, dust covered cards, abseiling lessons – all for one gigantic bluff. I loved the diversionary tactic here but having finally reached the end of the story and, more to the point, the end result – do you think the GB’s are as clever as they think they are?

In some ways, yes: the chairs were totally genius items, as were the cards. However, going to all that time and effort to steal a piece of artwork without checking that it is real first . . . oopsie! :D

For once, it seems like Locke did not really understand his target’s psychology. Requin has only got where he is by being cautious and well prepared. Also, he accepted the fake chairs perfectly happily, which should have been a huge clue that he was pragmatic about not displaying originals. Plus he had his famously huge and impregnable vault: where else would you display your precious artwork?

5.       I must admit that I liked Requin and Selendri – particularly at the end – I don’t think Requin will go after Locke and Jean, he was even sort of cool and composed about it all, in fact he came across as a bit pleased with himself because he had the last laugh.  Plenty of good characters this time which did you enjoy reading most about this time?

In many ways, Requin seems like an older version of Locke. He is so good at reading a person’s character and manipulating them and their expectations.

I think the character I enjoyed the most in this book was actually Jean. I felt like he blossomed during the time we spent with him this time. He stepped out of Locke’s shadow in more ways than one. He became an equal partner and showed that he could be just as cunning, such as with the crossbows. I feel like LoLL showed the most influential time in Locke’s life: the experiences that changed and shaped him so that he could never be the same again. This time we have seen that part of Jean’s life. He has been the emotional heart of this book and I have felt for him every step of the way.

6.       Finally, a triple barrel question, I know I shouldn’t ask this BUT, on reflection do you have a favourite between LoLL or RSURS??  And why?  Are you going to pick up Republic of Thieves?  And, where do you think Lynch will take us to next??

A favorite? That is a difficult decision. However, I think it has to be LoLL. There are a variety of reasons for this. Call me nostalgic, but I enjoyed discovering this world and the characters inhabiting it. I loved Father Chains and the Spider. I preferred Camorr as a location. I liked the interweaving of the Interludes, which were used much more in LoLL. Plus I missed the sharks! Of course RSURS had little Regal, who I imagine will play a large role in RoT, but a rather large thing weighing in against it is the cliffhanger ending: Scott Lynch, you total bastard!

Will I read the Republic of Thieves? Let me think about that for a minute or two . . . YES! Of course I will, and I hope that we organize another Read Along so that we can share the experience. Of course, if Mr Lynch does not hurry up and publish it we may have to visit him to ‘encourage’ him to hurry up! :D

As for where we go next, it could be absolutely anywhere: somewhere that we have already heard about or somewhere totally new. Heck, I would hardly be surprised if we ended up on one of the moons. I would like to learn more about the Elders, but my primary concern is really finding a way so that Locke does not die! Scott Lynch, you total, utter bastard!!!!!!!

One last point: I was so pleased that Salon Corbeau got a special visit from the Dread Pirate Ravelle. I just wish we could have had a bit more detail about them terrorizing the evil, kitten-torturing aristocrats because they really deserved to suffer: really, really suffer and then suffer some more. Anyone who tortures kittens deserves to spend a very long time dying! Bastards!

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