But this post has still been a long time coming…
I did have a whole bunch of bookmarks in the book, but then an opportune time came for me to return it before I got to write this. But most of them were mostly squee type stuff, so you probably aren’t missing out on much. Even if they were important, they generally fell under the following points.
- I don’t think Iasca Leror is as at peace as everyone thinks it is. Inda’s mum, the Iofre, (I can’t remember her name…) says something in the first couple of chapters about her children being held ransom, and I think this is certainly true, if every lord surrenders his first born children to another house/the king. It certainly has real world precedent – I think both in Western and Eastern culture, children of prominent figures would be ‘traded’ under the guise of betrothal and so on as political hostages. Of course, there were some mutterings about understanding each other through their children, but that’s basically what they were.
- Multiple POVs were a little confusing. especially near the beginning in the training barracks. It got better as I continued, though I still got a bit confused about the passage of time at the end of the book. (Great swathes passed in sentences for one person, while another spent PAGES on a couple of weeks.)
- I liked the wine and bread ritual with Tdor. And definitely, at the start of the book, she is one of my favourite characters. Actually, I liked all the Iascan females and I kind of wish there was a bit more of them.
- I rather like the casual treatment of sexual orientation and familial duty on the nobles level in this ‘verse as well. As in doesn’t matter which way you lean, just as long as you have a kid or two. Except expectations are piled on in other areas.
- Tau, as is the rest of that defence crew thing, is awesome.
And now… The Fox, which took far longer to read, because I did that abominable thing where I skip ahead and then have to forget about most of it before I read through it solid. That and during my skimming ahead, all that I saw was boring pirate ship sequences. And that all the interesting bits were all short and didn’t contribute much to the overall plot except to placefill as “this is what happened to these characters in these seven months”.
Aside from all that though, I kind of liked it more than Inda, mostly because the timelines made sense and there were cases where you were actually told how long had passed rather than just guessing at times. (No, there really was a line which went along the lines of “And seven months passed” which I was SO grateful to see.)
General things of interest that were the exciting and/or interesting bits: the coup resulting in Evered ascending to the throne, pretty much any scene with Hadand, Fox's epic burn and escape rescue thing, Tdor and Evered being mopey over Inda, the plot to help Evered survive his brother and Uncle and Tau and Jeje being awesome.
Things that were interesting but were a little boring at the same time: the Dag conspiracy, the Venn political conspiracy-ings, Ramis and Tau’s politicking.
I have bookmarks, a lot of them. Let me go through them all. Some are reiterations of the points above.
The early fight scenes were rather cool.
For some reason I bookmarked the place where the Harskialdna chews Sierlaef-Aldren for using the an academy call. Maybe because it’s the first signs that Aldren is not completely behind his Uncle’s plans, and just wants Joret.
There’s the bit where Cherry-Stripe and Buck are expected to kill Vedrid. Mostly I bookmarked this because there’s a lovely their relationships with their betrotheds. Mainly very understanding and er… very open. Which I rather like. (Basically, one of them in an ally with his and the other has come to an understanding that they won’t have sex with each other until they marry – though that doesn’t mean they can’t get in some ‘practise’ in with others before then.)
Tau’s random bits of knowledge amuse me. Like where he explains how to understand Marlovan – “It’s old fashioned Venn, with Sartoran verb endings. You could probably understand it if you remember Iascan verbs have somewhat similar endings.” – and the line after, where Jeje snorts because of course the person who gets the language after hearing two sentences would be able to get it. The there’s how Marlovan steel was the Iascan's originally (and being an expy of Damascus steel) and how the Iascans were armourers, not warriors.
Him and Jeje are awesomely adorable as a couple too.
I love the two girls betrothed to the royal sons. Especially how Hadand sent, with Kialen’s name attached, Evered some wrist guards. But Kialen makes me particularly sad because she's so waif-like. Her death was kind of pretty though. Though disturbing, even if I would like to hear the song she sings with the spirits.
Fox wanting Inda’s mind and soul is creepy. Actually not even that, it’s the terrifying that creeps up onto you gradually so that you don’t even notice that you’re in danger. …That’s going to end badly, isn’t it?
Not that it does in this book, with him coming to Inda’s rescue with the rope, that weird summons ring scene which was very subtextual where I’m pretty sure Inda was thinking exactly the same thing I was, it was that tropey.
The other bits after the rescue were fun though, especially Inda’s kinthus rambling about sex being like persimmon pie that both Tau and Fox have as a saying. Fox cooking a cheese-y omelette and Inda drumming beats with his spoon. I now want to make persimmon pie…
Old Satoran is written like Japanese and Chinese script? Vertically?
Whatever happened with those scrolls Evered copied from that library he wandered into during the middle of a storm? It was a lovely little interlude, but it was just dropped there, never to reurn again, even as a mention. (In this book at least.)
Fox and Inda’s war dance on the ship! I so would want to see a fan interpretation of that. (And grr, why must book fandoms be so hard to be recognisable when cosplaying?)
And then there is the start of the coup with the two flights of warriors.
The Harskialdna being killed by his awesome BAMF wife is one of the moments of win for me.
Oh Tlennen, oh Sindan, you two are absolutely adorable. Especially when you both die to protect Evered.
The Tveis guarding their prince! And dissolving the coup! <3
Awww, Evered's endless hope to catch up with Inda is kind of adorable. And I do like how Sherwood Smith illustrates how quickly Evered's fate changes.
Then after all the poloticking Evered and Hadand's marriage ceremony was kind of awesome. (Handand! *hearts*)
Joret gets a happy ending as well! ♥
The little domestic moments the Venn have are amusing. *is talking about the bit with the two year old son*
Sparrow and Elfis. Mate, not first mate. I just love those scenes which make you go ‘Oh. Oh!”
The Dag conspiracy!
And oh wow, I totally did not pick up on the Inda and Signi relationship until it became obvious. Which was also kind of what inducing. Not 'wry?' inducing, which is something different, but 'what' followed very closely by 'why?'.