Second Son Read Along: Chapter 14 & Interlude

Second Son Read Along

Have you forgiven me yet?

No?

Fair enough. But we’ve still got half a book to get through, and I promise, there are… um… even sadder things coming. But some happy ones, too.

King Stiorne and Jhasen

As the chapter opens, the king has regained a little strength, but he fears that he will never make a full recovery. As such, he knows he must officially name an heir. Rumors that Rhoyan is alive have reached his ears (brought to him, interestingly enough, by Lords Nills and Bors….) and he turns to Jhasen, his oldest friend and confidant to advise him on what to do.

Did Jhasen’s response surprise you?

He counsels the king to ignore the prophecy. Seamas is a worthy successor, he has the good of his people at heart, and the rumors about Rhoyan are as yet unsubstantiated.

“You have been betrayed, Sire, but not by me.”

Second Son - Unicorn

 

Seamas recognizes his error and instantly regrets it… but in this case, his repentance comes too little, too late. This moment of rash reaction will weigh heavily on Seamas’ heart for the rest of his life. Especially when he finds out a few days later that Jhasen was telling the truth about urging the king to name his elder son as heir, and not Rhoyan.

“I, too, have carried the dead.”

Rhoyan and Dru make it back to the little cottage where they bury their friend and discover that Captain Murry has already departed without them. However, it is not all bad news, for another ship is due to arrive shortly… and when he does, Rhoyan is startled to discover that it is none other than Captain Delmar, the captain with whom he began this voyage!

Delmar is only too happy to give Rhoyan a ride on the last leg of his journey home, especially when he discovers that the young man is also the prince of Llycaelon!

However… home is not waiting for Rhoyan with the open arms he anticipates.

Within moments of stepping on the soil of Llycaelon, Rhoyan is attacked!

Two figures appear to help, revealing themselves to be Tobias, captain of the King’s Helm, and Llewana, Seamas’ betrothed. They quickly catch Rhoyan up on all that has transpired in his absence, including (finally!) the words of the prophecy and why they pertain to him, leaving him reeling a bit at how much everything has changed.

“I am here to make sure no blood stains Seamas’ soul.”

I love Llewana. Her loyalty is a beautiful thing. That is all.

“I name myself Brant…. Rhoyan is dead, and Brant is born of his ashes”

And here we reach the end of the first part of this story, a story that has been building to this moment since page one. Rhoyan has come home… but he cannot stay. In an effort to protect his family from any further pain he might bring them, Rhoyan chooses to leave and allow everyone to believe that he died at sea. But first, in order to truly lay his past to rest, in the tradition of his people, he takes his adult name: Brant.

Interlude

Once again, we catch a glimpse of the elusive minstrel, Kiernan Kane. Apparently, the story you have been reading is the one he has been regaling the King of Yochathain with… but as he says, so far, it lacks an ending. So next week, we’ll dive into the second part of the book and find out what happens to Rhoyan/Brant next!

Discussion Questions:

1. I honestly can’t think of any questions to ask right now… it’s been a long week. So… what things do you want to talk about from this chapter?

~ jenelle

Second Son Read Along: Chapter 13

Second Son Read Along

Warning: There are some spoilers in today’s post, so I highly recommend reading the chapter BEFORE continuing any further in this blog post!

Seamas Begins Plotting

Upon learning that his brother might, in fact, be alive, Seamas begins walking down a dark path. Throughout his life, Seamas has always had two paths before him. Yes, he’s had some untrustworthy counselors. Yes, it could be argued that he’s been treated unfairly, that he’s had to live up to unrealistic expectations. But along the way, he has also made choices. In the world of Tellurae Aquaous (and especially in Llycaelon) names have meaning, and names have power. (Another idea I lifted from the Earthsea books). That is why aethalons get to choose a new name when they come of age. Ky chose the name “Seamas” (which is the Gaelic form of “Jacob” and means “usurper/supplanter”) he knew what that name meant, and he knew what he was declaring when he chose it. Interestingly enough, yes, the story of Ky and Rhoyan had some of its murkiest origins in a somewhat twisted-around version of the Biblical story of Jacob and Esau.

The search for Calla

As Dru and Rhoyan search for Calla in the confines of the inhospitable forest, they are forced to leave the path only to discover that they are already too late… and their friend has been used by the malicious seheowks to lure them into a trap.

As Dru and Rhoyan determine to avenge the death of their friend, the image of her body disappears and they hear her calling to them for help! Galvanized by the thought that Calla’s death was merely a ruse, Dru and Rhoyan rush deeper into the forest and discover that Calla is still alive, but has been taken prisoner by the dark creatures.

In this section we also learn a little bit more about the politics and inner workings of Llycaelon, as seen through Dru’s eyes, and Rhoyan begins to realize just how much he doesn’t know about the responsibility of the king and the dangers that threaten his people every day that nobody knows about.

Calla’s Flight

Here we take a minute to backtrack and follow Calla along the path that led to her capture.

The rescue

As far as I know, Calla is the only person to ever actually converse (if you can call it that) with a seheowk. Or any other were-creature, for that matter. They are a race bent on destruction, but generally uncoordinated in their efforts… unless someone comes along and terrifies them into working toward a common purpose. But that is a difficult thing to do. Here, we have stumbled upon a small band of them desperately seeking a way to overcome their own weaknesses. Pretty sure their plan wouldn’t work, even if they did manage to succeed… but they don’t know that. And they’re just horrible.

The last stand

I’m sorry.

I really, truly am.

I’m an evil author. I admit it freely.

But it had to happen. It was necessary to the construction of Rhoyan’s character, and proof that he suffered tragedy every bit as much as Ky/Seamas did back home. The difference between them lies in what they chose to do with it, how they allowed their personal trials to affect them.

Our heroes are surrounded by their enemies, suffering the tragic loss of their companion, alone, outnumbered, and desperate. But Rhoyan doesn’t know the meaning of the word “surrender.” It is not in his nature to give up. If he cannot defeat this foe and live, he will use his own death to accomplish the same goal. And yet, as Rhoyan and Dru prepare to burn down the forest in revenge, making a stand that will destroy their enemies and themselves in the process… something inexplicable happens. The fire consumes the seheowks, then dies itself, leaving Dru, Rhoyan, and even Calla’s body untouched.

Weary, heart-sick, and sorrowful… Rhoyan and Dru carry their fallen friend with them as they leave the forest.

Discussion Questions

1. Open discussion on this chapter. I have no questions… but I’m pretty sure you’ll have things to say about it.

 

~ jenelle

Second Son Read Along: Chapter 12

Second Son Read Along

How’s everyone doing with the read along? Keeping up? Already done? Struggling and getting behind? Remember that we’re going to slow down a bit in February – only getting new chapter posts on M/W/F to leave room for some February is Fantasy Month posts, so don’t worry if you’re getting behind, you can use the extra time then to catch up!

Yesterday’s chapter was pretty long, but we have a nice short one today to make up for it and we’re just about halfway through the book!

Faithful friends

Friendship and loyalty are big themes in all of my books. Loyalty is important to me, which is probably why it is often a theme (along with betrayal, because it’s easy to take the things that are important to us and flip them around to create awesome conflict in our writing). Dru and Calla have an opportunity here to let Rhoyan go on alone, but they staunchly insist on coming along. Calla’s loyalty means even more when we remember that Kiernan Kane gave her some unsettling information back in Chellayn.

“I wanted him to be dead.”

Oh, Seamas! It was easy to ignore the prophecy, the things you learned about the darkest corners of your heart in the Corridor, and all the whispers (real and imagined) when you believed Rhoyan had perished. It was easy to remember him fondly and tell yourself you’d step aside if he returned… but now… after practically running the kingdom for the past few months or so… news of the possible survival and return of your brother has become much harder to take. Those things that were easy in your mind are not so simple in practice.

“I can only assume the best of you.”

We all need a Jhasen in our lives.

That is all.

Yorien’s Hand

Unlike the Corridor, showing Ky possible futures and the darkest recesses of his own heart… Yorien’s Hand here chooses to show Rhoyan his family and the things that have happened to them in his absence. It is important to note that if this were a test, Rhoyan has failed it. Though he tells his friends that he has done the same as Lewstor, he does not actually take Yorien’s Hand with him like Lewstor did. He did not remain and see all it had to show him, he cut the visions short, and refused to accept them, though it showed him the truth. This is why he cannot comprehend Lewstor’s decision to return and live in the palace near the star… where Lewstor accepted the truth of Yorien’s Hand, Rhoyan has rejected it.

Calla had disappeared

And we end the chapter with a “dun dun DUN!”

Discussion Questions:

1. Thoughts/opinions/comments on Jhasen’s conversation with Seamas?
2. Reactions to Yorien’s Hand and the things it showed Rhoyan?
3. Calla’s disappearance…. what do you think happened to her?

~ jenelle

Second Son Read Along: Chapter 11

Second Son Read Along

Chellayn: a city of beauty

I originally pulled the inspiration for the look and feel of this city from my experience visiting Chartres, France when I was in high school. Except that Chartres is not a harbor-city, so it doesn’t have exactly the same look and feel as what I picture Chellayn being.

(image found in a google search for “Chartres cathedral”)

I also really like THIS IMAGE , but Chellayn is less blocky and the buildings would have more curves and stained glass and fountains.

An unexpected appearance

If you have not read King’s Warrior, the appearance of Kiernan Kane here will not necessarily mean anything to you. But for those who have read KW, I hope this moment was surprising and intriguing. Especially when you remember that at this point in the timeline we are approximately 50 years away from the moment where King’s Warrior opens, and our dear minstrel’s age suddenly doesn’t appear to match up to the years he’s lived.

Honestly, Kiernan’s appearance here startled me as much as it may you. Just goes to show, that you can write the story… but it’s the characters who make all the important decisions!

The minstrel’s tale tugs at Rhoyan’s heart, causing a restlessness (and a selfishness) to awaken with him as he begins to realize that he is not yet ready to return home. He is not ready to settle into a life of duty and responsibility. For the first time since Sheyardin’s death, he sees his current circumstances as freedom — up until now, it’s been more of a struggle to stay alive and dreams of returning home — but now that the return home seems within his grasp, he is suddenly reluctant to give up that freedom. He wants one more adventure before he settles down in his role supporting his older brother as king, and the tale of Lewstor rouses his curiosity.

Seamas leaves the King’s Helm

Back in Llycaelon, Seamas is shouldering more and more responsibility during his father’s illness. Reluctantly, he finds himself forced to step down from his leadership role in the King’s Helm.

This section has a few foreshadowy bits in it – referencing a “missing stanza” in the prophecy as well as Llewana’s outburst that the rulers of Llycaelon are arrogant beyond reason for believing such a prophecy is only about them. Llewana was a fun character to write, and even though she’s more of a secondary character overall, I always enjoyed writing her interacting with Seamas. In this particular scene, you should begin to see a hint that their relationship has grown into something more than friendship.

Emnolae

“A ring of cool flames”

Did you figure out the reference to a dormant volcano before Rhoyan did?

On the outskirts of the forest, we meet a young family: mother, son, and daughter. Though they may seem fairly normal at first, we soon discover that the mother is a type of guardian. How she came to such a position is a mystery for a different story, but she has in her possession the information Rhoyan needs to finish his self-appointed quest… and later in this chapter we will also find out that she is the keeper of the key necessary for completing the journey.

Her daughter, Ina, also appears to possess some sort of prophetic or visionary skills… a rare gift for a human.

The path through the woods and the crumbling palace

Whenever I see a forest or get to go hiking in the woods, I always at some point pretend I’m in Mirkwood. What can I say? The Hobbit made a lasting impression on me at an early age. With this forest, I wanted to capture a little bit of that feeling of mystery and danger… but I also wanted to make it my own, and give Rhoyan a way to see through the deception the Wylder Wood weaves. Rhoyan does a little growing up here, as well… the others instinctively look to him to be their leader, to bring them safely through this quest, and like it or not, he has to bear the weight of responsibility for these companions who are trusting him to keep them safe.

When they see the palace, Rhoyan catches a glimpse of what it means to be a good leader. I love this moment as the ghosts of High Kings whisper straight to his heart about power under control and taking responsibility and using their strength to serve and protect.

At the end of the chapter, our companions find a door that they believe will lead them straight to the heart of the volcano. Let’s leave them there for now, shall we?

Discussion Questions:

1. A lot of different places are described in this chapter. Which of these locations would you most like to visit based on the descriptions?
2. What did you think of the appearance of a certain story-telling character? If you’ve read King’s Warrior, did that surprise you?
3. Lots of foreshadowing and storytelling and prophecy stuff in this chapter… is it starting to come together for you, or are you still feeling a little lost? Any of it make you concerned for the fates of any of our characters we’ve been hanging out with?
4. Any predictions about what happens next?

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments or over in the discussion group and I’ll answer them in the next post!

~ jenelle