Second Son Read Along: Chapter 9

Second Son Read Along

Here we are in chapter 9 already! Don’t worry if you’ve fallen behind a bit or are just getting started, because tomorrow is the weekend (huzzah!) and that means no posts in the read-along until Monday. We’ll slow down even more when we get to February, since the read-along will be sharing time with the February is Fantasy Month Blog Tour Extravaganza! I’ve got 20 authors signed up to participate and I think it’s going to be an absolute blast!

Anyway, diving back into Second Son, here we have a couple of important notes.

1. Timelines… the last time we saw a clear “this much time has passed” was on page 87 when Sheyardin said to Rhoyan, “This is your thirtieth year, is it not? Your birthday is arriving soon, I believe.” — Meaning Rhoyan was about to turn 31 (again, 15/16 years old by the way we measure maturity) and that they had been traveling together for 3-almost 4-years. Now, we find out that in their travels to the Nameless Isles, and Rhoyan’s subsequent attempts to reach home and the time he has spent in captivity all add together to equal approximately another year, give or take several months. I skipped over much of Rhoyan’s wandering back westward (and more south than he intended) and towards home as it was uninteresting and did not add to the story much. But take my word for it, he found abandoned islands with fresh water and didn’t die of thirst.

2. “Queen Fiora grieved more deeply than any the deepest of all.” Yup. That’s a typo. If you found it all by yourself, give yourself a pat on the back. (And yeah, I’ve been noticing the paragraphs that didn’t indent properly and agh! It’s so aggravating, because I know for a fact that I’ve been over this book multiple times fixing that very issue, so finding them in this latest version is the pinnacle of aggravation. Looks like another round of revisions is in order.

Anyway, diving in:

Seamas was in his element

Seamas has taken on more and more responsibility since his Rite of Passage, and he is exceeding everyone’s expectations. His parents are proud of him, he is serving his country well, and all is as it should be. Sure, his little brother appears to have perished out there on the high seas, but while this event saddens his father and has devastated his mother, please note that Seamas barely bats an eye and spends little to no time at all thinking about it or missing Rhoyan. (For those of my readers who think I still owe Ky/Seamas an apology… okay… you might have a point… but he does bring SOME of it on himself).

Ahem.

Llewana

Female warriors are not uncommon in Llycaelon, exactly the opposite, in fact. Practically every child born in Llycaelon experiences some sort of warrior training. They are a grim, determined, strong people… fiercely proud of their nation and their skills in the arts of war.

However… there have been no wars for a very, very long time.

And while peace has not made this people soft in any way… it has allowed the people to focus on other things. Which is why Seamas is surprised when he learns that Llewana has actually gone through the Corridor and passed the final tests to get her warrior-ranking, because that is uncommon in this time of peace. But Llewana is the daughter of a warrior, a great captain of men, and as an only child, she has a driving need to prove herself skilled that is every bit as passionate as Seamas’ own, though for different reasons.

Calla

At the other end of the world, Rhoyan has also encountered an interesting young woman. Calla, a member of the Rambler tribe that has taken him prisoner, finds Rhoyan fascinating, and she returns often to speak with him and Dru. Despite the fact that Rhoyan pretends the only language he can speak is Gryphonese (a language he picked because he was fairly certain it was a safe bet nobody else would know it), these three become a trio of unlikely friends.

Then Calla confides in Rhoyan that she is a sort of prisoner, as well, about to be married off to a man not of her own choosing. Together, Rhoyan and Dru decide to offer to take Calla with them when they make their bid for freedom… Rhoyan falls asleep wondering what it will be like to return home. He has always been content with the idea of being the “perpetual prince” and supporting his brother once he comes to the throne. But his journeys have awakened a wanderlust within him, and he no longer believes he could be content to merely stay in one place. It’s a good thing he’s not destined to take the throne, or anything… (remember, he still doesn’t know the contents of the prophecy)!

The King’s Helm

We return to Llycaelon where Seamas and his elite group of soldiers are tracking a group of brigands to bring them to justice.

We also get to see a glimmer of romance budding between him and his newest addition to the company.

But most importantly of all… note Seamas’ desire to prove himself. To earn glory and fame and come up against a worthy challenge for himself and his warriors: “What they really needed, Seamas decided, was a real war.”

Discussion Questions:

1. This chapter introduces two new characters. What are your impressions of them so far?
2. We are now approximately 1/3rd of the way through the book. What has been your favorite part/line/character so far?
3. Do you have any questions for me?

~ jenelle

Second Son Read Along: Chapter 8

Second Son Read Along

No accidental spoilers today, shall we? I really do feel badly about that, y’all. No idea what I was thinking (or not thinking, obviously!)

Anyway, here we are in Chapter 8 and already a quarter of the way through the book! I hope I’m providing you with a good commentary. I am trying to comment on the story itself while also making it feel like you’re getting a bit of a “back-page” pass into the process and development and inspirations behind this book. Let me know if I’m swinging the pendulum too far in either direction, or if there’s anything you’d like me to focus on or talk about more!

The Corridor

Would you believe that the very first glimmerings of the idea for the Corridor came from Spiderman? Yep. The 1990s version of the cartoon was one of my favorite shows as a kid, and in a couple of the episodes one of the villains (a guy named Spot) had the ability to create these portals (that were kind of like these black circles he threw at a wall) and then he could go into them and use them like wormholes to travel between dimensions and basically teleport to a different location. In one of the episodes, he ends up having to go into the portal and close it from the inside, thereby trapping himself forever.

Another influence came from the Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce as a kid. (I wouldn’t recommend books 2-4, as they have some adult themes and romance). But I really like the idea of having an Ordeal of Knighthood, a sort of magical test where one had to face one’s fears or learn something about one’s true nature in order to be found worthy of becoming a knight.

The Corridor was a fun concept to write, and I enjoyed weaving its use and various purposes throughout the series.

As Ky steps inside, we see once more the influence of my love of astronomy and the night sky. Originally, we toyed with the idea of the cover art for Second Son be like a glimpse inside the Corridor, with the exit in the woods outside the palace on the back. Ultimately, that idea, while cool, was abandoned in favor of a subject material that did a better job of representing the WHOLE story. But I wish I had a few of those idea-images that Angelina created for those initial concepts to share with you, because they were really cool.

Three Tests – The Darkness Within

Inside the Corridor, Ky faces three different scenarios, all linked in someway to himself, his brother, and his own place in the world. As Master Hobard insists, the trick of the Corridor is that it is not constrained by truth, but rather seeks to reveal the darkness one brings inside with him (much like the cave on Dagobah in The Empire Strikes Back).

Three Questions – The Nobility Within

Each aethalon, upon passing through the Corridor, must answer three questions that seek to delve into the subject’s maturity and honorability. After that, they spend some time alone in reflection, before being called once more to a public forum where their family, friends, and mentors are brought to answer questions and vouch for the candidate’s worthiness to become an aethalon and receive their ranking.

This whole scene received a TON of re-working and re-writing during edits. In the rough draft, I couldn’t come up with three good questions, so I wrote my way out of it by coming up with one question, and then having Ky give a lengthy answer that so impressed the council that they decided to forego all other questions. However, I knew this was “cheating” and with the help of my editors we came up with the rest of the scene!

On the other side of the world

Oh dear. Rhoyan has gotten himself into a bit of a mess. Kidnapped by Ramblers and taken as a slave far from home… at least he’s found a fellow prisoner he can talk to. Dru was not a character I planned on writing, he just showed up in the story and settled himself into place. Didn’t demand to be there, no, Dru is too easy-going for that. But he showed up in this scene, flashed me a reassuring grin, and took up residence in the story. And that was that! My favorite characters always seem to be the ones I never planned to write about. I think that’s why my secondary characters always kind of take over the story when I’m not looking. Anyway… we shall leave Rhoyan and Dru crafting their plans of escape for now and see what comes of them.

Discussion Questions:

1. I’d love to know what you think of the Corridor!
2. What purpose do you think the Corridor had in showing Ky the things it did? What do you think these three scenes revealed about his deepest fears?
3. Thoughts on the rest of the ceremony after he emerges from the Corridor? Any questions they asked that you particularly liked? What did you think of the new name Ky chose for himself?
4. Dru – first impressions?
5. Do you think their plan to escape will succeed?

~ jenelle

Second Son Read Along: Chapter 7

Second Son Read Along

What? No intro? Sorry about that…. I kinda hit “publish” before I was really done. But anyway, here we are in chapter 7 (is it the weekend yet?) hehe… I jest… sorta.

Buckle-up, dear Readers… because this chapter brought out ALL THE COMMENTARY!

The Nameless Isles

Admittedly, there are aspects of this series that were heavily influenced by my love of Ursula K. LeGuin’s “Earthsea” series. I loved how her world consisted of an archipelago (and that is such a fun word to say… even if it is one that I struggle to pronounce correctly!) That is where the idea of “island kingdoms” first sprang from. Of course, my “archipelago” is too spread out to truly be called that, but I wanted to give it my own special twist. I also needed the countries to be far enough apart that travel between them wouldn’t be easy, enough distance that it would be believable that some of the countries might have been isolated, even forgotten. While there are ships in my world, and some trade between countries, it is limited due to the fact that ships are just not available in great quantities. Most of the kingdoms are fairly self-sufficient and prefer to remain unbothered by their neighbors. There are no armadas of ships, none of the kingdoms has bothered to create a naval force of any kind. The sailors who do exist are either fishermen or those who desire the open horizon around them and the adventure of life on the high seas.

Thus, when Rhoyan sets foot on the Nameless Isles, it is easy for him to feel fairly confident that no other human has stood here before.

I also love the stories of explorers throughout history. Lewis and Clark, Ernest Shackleton, Roald Amundson, Robert Falcon Scott, Neil Armstrong… among others… the call of the unexplored tugs at my soul. I don’t have the motivation or courage to be one of them, but I love reading about their experiences, and I love that idea of being the first… of stepping on land no one has ever stood up, breathing air no other human has ever breathed before (no scientific arguments, please… it’s the principle of the thing!) And so, of course, I had to send Rhoyan on this journey, this exploration. (Later, I send other characters to another unexplored region of the world… but I’m getting several books ahead of myself, so we’ll pause on that line of thought for now…)

Just in case you have an early edition of the book that doesn’t include the map of the world… here ya go!

Map Tellurae Aquaous

Haeronymous

I… have to confess… I forgot completely that I had explained Haeronymous’ back-story and mentioned the cearaphiym and talked about the High Kings so early in the series! Anyway, this is important, so pay attention. grin

The Oath of the aethalons

Now we get around to discovering the true nature of the Oath Rhoyan took back in chapter 5! It is not just a vow to serve and protect, but a form of magic that courses through the veins of every aethalon — though few, if any, recognize it as such or understand its power.

It is important to note again how magic works in this realm. It is not something that can be wielded by just anyone, nor can it be learned. It is not “witchcraft” with spells and potions… it is a hereditary, genetic ability gifted to certain races by the Creator (Cruithaor Elchiyl). The myth-folk have this ability, as do wizards. Normal humans do not and cannot… UNLESS they are not completely normal humans… since wizards and humans can procreate, it is possible for a person to have a mixed genetic heritage. This does not always result in a weaker magical gift, either. Some of the greatest/strongest wizards in the history of Tellurae Aquaous have been only partial wizards.

The battle

When they find their enemy, the one responsible for marshaling the were-folk and unleashing them upon the unsuspecting villages and farms… he is not quite what they expected.

A couple of notes:

Dragon blood in this world burns human flesh. Yeah, I totally plucked that idea from Jane Yolen’s Pit Dragon trilogy. It makes sense, from a creature that breathes fire, that their blood would be hotter than normal.

Khentarrick’s complete disbelief at his defeat at the hands of a human. Dragons are arrogant by nature and truly believe themselves to be on a higher plane than all other sentient life in this world. It is often their Achilles Heel.

Sheyardin’s death scene

Yes, I did just kill off the mentor-character. How trope-y of me.

Sheyardin did not intend to die, he fully intended to continue being Rhoyan’s mentor into his adulthood and potentially through his reign as king. Perhaps he did not believe the threat they were investigating was as dire as it actaully was, or his own pride blinded him to the truth of his own mortality. Either way, he is as surprised as anyone that his plans for the future have suddenly been cut off, which is why he kind of breaks character and gives Rhoyan so much un-riddle-like information here.

The long journey homeward

This is the moment where Rhoyan discovers exactly how helpful it is to have a dragon with you when sailing long distances in a tiny boat. If you were wondering how they made it so far in a vessel that could easily be manned by just two people… well, here is your answer! Much of that was Sheyardin’s doing.

Rhoyan is now truly alone for the very first time in his life. And it is driving him a little nuts. Which is why he starts talking to the stars. He is not yet ready to serve Sheyardin’s Cruithaor Elchiyl… but he is ready to acknowledge that he needs help from something or someone outside himself.

Hydra

My dad is always quietly amused (and teases me) at how in Tellurae Aquaous, everyone is always talking about how dangerous hydras are, and how big of a problem they are, and how you really probably shouldn’t go in the ocean because there might be hydras… and then this is literally the only one we ever see, and Rhoyan defeats it easily.

Well…

Yeah.

In this world, hydras can be dangerous. But remember that Rhoyan’s information has all come from people who don’t believe myth-folk exist, anymore. And the hydra, while being a creature of myth in our own world, are not considered among the myth-folk of Tellurae Aquaous. They are simply large predators of the ocean. So, compared with an evil dragon bent on conquering the world… I couldn’t make the hydra too difficult to defeat. Perhaps if Rhoyan had encountered it first, it would have seemed like more of a challenge.

Discussion questions:

1. How do you feel about what happened to Sheyardin?
2. This chapter comes bringing a strange mash-up of various things that have influenced my life and my writing style – from real explorers to books I loved as a child. Have you ever read the Earthsea trilogy? How about the Pit Dragon trilogy? These were among some of the first fantasy books I read on my own, and they definitely helped shape my love of fantasy. What were some of the first fantasy books you read that helped pull you into the genre and make you fall in love with it? Fellow authors: what sorts of things have influenced your writing style? Are there themes/ideas you’ve “borrowed” from others in your own books?
3. General thoughts on the events of this chapter? 

~ jenelle

Second Son Read Along: Chapter 6

Second Son Read Along

Cutting it a little close today, aren’t you, Jenelle?

Ahem.

Welcome back to the read along! Only 6 chapters in before I got behind. LOL But I’m determined to keep up and get these posts up each day (and this is where we come to the real reason I’m posting in the afternoons instead of the mornings).

To start off, Jill asked over in the FB Group: My one question through most of the story has been how old the two brothers are during each of these events. Are they teens now? Young men? 

This is an excellent question, and one that takes a bit of math-ing to answer – especially since we have some significant time-jumps between chapters, and because people in Llycaelon age differently… it’s not an exact science, but the general rule is that they age about half as quickly as normal humans, for reasons that include spoilers. In chapter 1, Rhoyan is 15 years old — which translates to about 7 or 8 in our years — while Ky is 20, and therefore approximately 10-11 years old by our standards. In chapter 4, we time-jump 5 years. Now Rhoyan is 20 (or 10 maturity-wise), while Ky is 25 (12/13… which could explain some of his general broody/snappishness). In chapter 5 we move forward another 7 years. Rhoyan is 27 (13/14) and Ky is 32 (16, some of those angsty jr. high emotions are behind him now). As we go through chapter 6 today, we discover that another 3 years have passed while Rhoyan has been traveling with Sheyardin and he is now 30 (15), and we can extrapolate from that that Ky is now 35 (17… approaching the end of his teenage years and looking to take his rite of passage soon and enter full adulthood).

Clear as mud?

Awesome.

A lot of this aging stuff came about while I was writing King’s Warrior and realized that in order for certain characters to have accomplished as much as they apparently had, they would need to have lived approximately twice as long as a normal human. Thus, the story soon revealed to me that people in Llycaelon aged more slowly, which solved the problem, but it also became a central part of the story as a whole, which was fun.

“Rhoyan doesn’t even want to be king!”

As he approaches the end of his apprenticeship, Ky is finally told about the prophecy and its implications. His first reaction is to scoff at it, then to deny it, and eventually to refuse to listen to his mentor.

Meanwhile…

Flames curled around the warrior and the child shrieked again…

Rhoyan has continued his travels with Sheyardin and three years have passed, giving him plenty of time to hone his skills as he uses them practically to slay monsters and save villagers from were-folk: twisted creatures of shadow, created by magic as a mockery of the beautiful myth-folk.

Sheyardin confides his concerns that the resurgence of these were-folk may be stemming from the stirring of Haeronymous, an ancient foe imprisoned long ago, but who still manages to sometimes gather enough strength to touch the world with his dark power. They determine to make their way to the Nameless Isles, which appears to be the source of these fell beasts.

Yorien’s Sign

Sheyardin tells Rhoyan the myth behind the constellation of Yorien. I originally included this story for two reasons: 1) I have always loved the constellation Orion, so I borrowed a bit from its name and created my own myth, 2) when I wrote the story I was in the midst of having just suffered a rejection from the guy I had a crush on, and I needed an outlet for my disappointment. Hence the theme of “unrequited love” in the story of Yorien. Hey, they say “write what you know.” grin

“I am the oldest son of the king and therefore I am the rightful heir to the throne.”

Poor Ky is having a rough time of it back home. As he flips through his memories, it is possible that he is not remembering them accurately, but is already beginning to view his brother through the haze of suspicion being laid across his mind by his mentors. It is all too easy for a respected teacher to influence the way a student thinks, even if the student doesn’t like the teacher.

Discussion Questions:

1. “Even if he were to become king… I’d give him my blessing.” From what you’ve seen of Ky so far, does this seem like a promise he will find easy to keep?
2. Have you ever remembered something extremely differently than the way it happened? Do you know what caused you to mis-remember the event?
3. Fellow writers: have you ever allowed the current events of your life to bleed over into your writing?
4. What is your favorite constellation?
 

~ jenelle