Go me, I even spelled fortuitous right on my first try.
So a month or two ago, there was this author that had been recommended to me, and I kept telling myself I should check her out. Then, at the Cassandra Claire and Holly Black event in Vero, that same author was recommended yet again, by those two no less. I said to myself, “I really do need to look into that.”
Then, of course, I completely forgot the author’s name. I knew she had two books, and that the second one was called Fire. Let me tell you, there are a whole stinking lot of books on the market with “fire” in the title…which makes searching in the library almost impossible. Especially without an author. So…I gave up, in the hopes of eventually running across the name again and remembering it.
In a completely unrelated series of events, I ended up checking out a book called Graceling from the library. (Are you laughing yet?) It was one of those few books I pick up, not because I know anything about them, but because the back cover sounds interesting. Most of those are disappointments. This one was not.
It was imaginative, and exciting, and unpretentious. I would have built up the world a little more, if I’d been writing it, but the story didn’t suffer for lack of detail. Reading the inside flap, I was surprised to discover that the author lives in Jacksonville, FL. Yay, fellow Floridian! I enjoyed Graceling enough that I went online to see if the author had a blog or something. I started on Amazon, where I was excited to discover that there is apparently another book in the series.
Can you guess what that second book is called? Yep.
Proving that yes, apparently I really should have checked Kristin Cashore out when I still remembered her name, because her first book was interesting enough for me to pick up AT RANDOM. Craziness.
In other news, I’m about halfway through the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris. Those are the books that apparently inspired the TrueBlood series on TV, which I know nothing about. But I’ve discovered that if a book spawns a movie or TV series, the book is at least worth checking out. (With the possible exception of Vampire Diaries. I tried to read those and it was like reading Twilight all over again. It was just…meh.) Anyway, I’m quite enjoying the Sookie books. They have a nice balance of mystery, sensuality, solid worldbuilding, and fun, and I really like the protagonist. She’s one of those perky southern women who don’t have a lot of “book larning”, but has a good head on her shoulders nonetheless.
I really need to update my to-read list, as I’ve finished a lot of what’s on it, and have added some stuff. I’ll probably do that in a different post.
The Shades rewrite is going very well. First person works a lot better than third ever did, I’m discovering. Much easier to introspect. But really, I think the best thing I did was starting at the fight scene. It just makes everyone’s motivations and conflicts so much clearer, and make so much more sense. Saeli, instead of starting things off with a dubious and rather stupid plan to meet with a Cowl, is immediately thrown into a conflict with one through no deliberate fault of her own. Yes, she ends up in a mess because of her decisions, but one could argue that there was little else she could do in those circumstances.
No, she didn’t have to sneak into the Temple to get a better look at a Cowl. But her doubts drove her there. No, she didn’t have to jump out to defend the High Priestess against Raphel, but her good heart wouldn’t let her do otherwise. It’s actually the only thing she does all night that a real White Mantle would also do.
She didn’t have to get into a conversation with Raphel, but her own doubts and curiosities, and Raphel’s strange manner, made it inevitable. This is where Saeli’s sense of what’s right departs from White Mantle philosophy. A Mantle would attack, and never give the enemy a chance to speak…no matter the circumstance, no matter how different or fascinating the enemy was. If Raphel had attacked her the second she appeared, that’s probably the course she would have taken, because it’s what she’s been taught. But Raphel tried to talk her away first, and that was enough to shock her out of reacting. Saeli’s own doubts compel her to try and find out why this Cowl is different.
She certainly didn’t have to take Raphel up on his compromise, and let him go when he asked…but it was the only thing she could do to save herself and the High Priestess’ life, given what she knows. (If she had known how much Raphel would risk to keep a gray her age alive, she might have been in a better position to bargain…but as far as she knows, Raphel’s going to kill her unless she does what he asks). She chooses saving lives over the morals she’s been taught, and that is significant. She’s willing to take circumstance into account. She follows her own inner sense of what’s right. This is what makes her so vulnerable to Raphel, but it’s also what will ultimately allow her to break free from him.
Raphel, instead of for-some-mysterious-reason deciding to meet an unknown student just because she asks, is thrown into a conflict with Saeli because of where he was and what he was trying to do. He spares her initially because he’s just killed Denys and is not happy about it, and he really doesn’t want to do it again. And before you start thinking that Raphel isn’t really such a bad guy after all, as Saeli does, know that Raphel objects to killing bystanders not out of the goodness of his heart, but as a matter of pride. He’s an assassin, and normally he’s good enough to get in and out of a place without having killed anyone other than his target. He’s more annoyed with himself at this point, because having to kill a student is embarrassing. Killing two would be unbearable, not to his conscience, but to his pride.
When she follows him up to the tower, he admires her for her tenacity. Mind you, he’s still going to kill her…perhaps even more so at this point, as it’s obvious she’s not going to leave him alone. But he’s curious enough about this Mantle who is acting so un-Mantle-like that he’s willing to hold back for a few minutes and see what she does. It’s when he figures out that she’s gray that the stakes change for him.
He realizes that he has a golden opportunity in Saeli to realize a plan that he’s been concocting for years. But, of course, now he can’t kill her. Hell, he can’t even hurt her in any significant way, as that would destroy any future trust she might have in him. But if he kills the HP, he knows he’ll have to fight Saeli, and thus probably hurt or kill her. However, if he doesn’t kill the HP, he’s going to face hell from his cabal, who are counting on him to take down the Mantle leader. And if he doesn’t choose quickly, he’s liable to get caught anyway. Saeli’s presence in this scene actually puts Raphel in a very difficult position, although of course, Saeli won’t know any of this.
He chooses Saeli, because even a faint hope of taking down the gods is worth the risk for him.
Mariah Dennison, fantasy writer and artist. Have written two books in a series, and one stand-alone. Currently working on another stand-alone, plus whatever art projects I've got going at the time.
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