Second Son Read Along: Chapter 16

Good afternoon! Can I just quickly take a moment to let you know about a super awesome giveaway I’m participating in? It’s How to Train Your Dragon-themed and we’re giving away a TON of HTTYD swag! The original soundtrack on CD, the blu-ray of the first 2 movies, a plush nightfury AND a plush lightfury, a super cool t-shirt, the “Official Book of Dragons,” and the entire 10-book boxed set of How to Train Your Dragon books by Cressida Cowell…. I… really wish I could enter this giveaway. LOL You can read more and enter the giveaway HERE.

Okay… back to our regularly scheduled programming. Getting around to posting a bit earlier this afternoon! Everyone in my house is sick today, so that’s fun – I guess if we all have to be sick, might as well be during a week when the wind-chills are supposed to hit -50 to -65 and it’s not like there’s anything else to do, right? I hope you are well and cozy wherever you are!

Second Son Read Along

Yesterday, we left Brant in the care of some good people. Today, let’s start out by meeting a new character, and a somewhat familiar one…

My time is ending…

King Jairem has ruled Aom-igh as its king for forty-three years. But he is growing old now, and feels the end of his reign and life are near at hand. And despite the peace that his country has enjoyed, he also fears for its future. He has no heir to pass the throne to, and fears for his people should he die without naming someone as his successor. It is apparent that both he and Scelwhyn have been searching for someone with a legitimate claim to the throne for some time, and Scelwhyn now informs his king that he may have found the correct person for the job.

Meanwhile, back in Llycaelon…

Seamas learns that the man he sent his people after has slipped through his grasp. Llewana and Tobias do their best to conceal the part they played in Rhoyan’s escape, and even question whether or not it really was the prince, claiming their belief that Rhoyan died on his journey with Sheyardin, as had been previously assumed.

Seamas reveals that the king died in the night, and his friends do their best to comfort him in the loss of his father, as well as his brother.

Who knows if things would have turned out differently if Seamas had been told the truth? That Rhoyan willingly abdicated all possibility of being crowned in favor of his brother and had put himself into self-appointed exile? But Tobias and Llewana, true friends of Seamas though they are, do not quite trust him or the counselors around him.

Brant grew to love this life he had stumbled into

Across the sea in Aom-igh, Brant has found a family to replace the one he lost in Llycaelon. He has found it easy to fall in love with his new home, to settle into the peaceful routine of a simple life, to leave his adventures behind.

After all the trials and heartbreak of the first half of the book, I really needed to give Brant a few moments of breathing space. I don’t torture my characters on purpose, nor do I do it gleefully, though I do acknowledge that a story without conflict is generally a boring one. I hope that these moments on the farm have given you a feeling of rest and respite, even as they have soothed Brant’s weary soul.

But Arnaud dreams of adventure. And when two strangers dine with them one evening, he voices his desire for something a little bit more exciting than what his life has held thus far.

It is a puzzle…

King Jairem is more than impressed with the young man Scelwhyn has discovered. But Scelwhyn himself is puzzled by the appearance of Brant and his obvious familiarity with this family. The wizard feels that there is something more to this young man, something he is missing, and yet he fears that his time, too, is growing short.

Jairem laughs off Scelwhyn’s concerns. “Given a few days, they probably would have adopted us, too.”

Euphie and Barr are perhaps my picture of who I would like to become. The hospitality they extend to everyone who crosses their threshold is admirable and it is a standard I strive to live up to. I hope that my home is always that welcoming to any who happen across it. It is strange, is it not, that we authors can write characters we ourselves look up to?

Discussion Questions:

 Okay… where did my discussion questions go? I had them earlier… I know I wrote them… at least, I think I did… Ahem. Well… let’s try this again, shall we?
 
1. There were quite a few sweet/deep moments in this chapter. Did any of them in particular jump out at you? Why did that scene or line strike a chord with you?
2. Are you more like Brant: you’ve had a life full of adventures and now you just want a peaceful life? Or Arnaud: you’ve had a pretty peaceful life and you think you’d like maybe just ONE good adventure?

~ jenelle

Second Son Read Along: Chapter 15

Second Son Read Along

Hope you all had a lovely weekend! It snowed here last night (FINALLY!!) and later this week we’re supposed to hit windchills of -40 to -50 degrees! (But hey, all the creepy-crawlies around here are all well and truly dead… so that’s a plus)!

Remember, this is the last full week of read-along posts because FEBRUARY IS FANTASY MONTH starts on Friday! I’ve got 20+ bloggers signed up to bring you all sorts of fantasy awesomeness on their blogs, and I’ll be posting the schedule and more info on Friday morning before the afternoon read-along post. Then, through February, we’ll alternate: M/W/F posts for the read-along, with T/TH posts about fantasy stuff.

(I’m already getting some of my posts written, but if you have ANY requests of things for me to write about for my FIFM posts, please let me know in the comments and I’ll try to accommodate!)

Today we begin the second part of this book. Rhoyan has a new name (Brant), he’s on a new adventure, and I’m sure exciting times are ahead of him, so let’s find out what he’s up to, shall we?

The chase is on

Poor Brant! Even slipping away under the cover of darkness is not enough to keep him safe. Scarcely has he begun to flee than he realizes that he is being chased.

As he flees, desperately racing to stay ahead of the larger vessel, Brant avoids sleep as much as possible. I was kind of shooting for the same feel I get whenever I watch “The Spirit of St. Louis” – if you haven’t seen it, I definitely recommend it – but for a good part of the movie you’re just watching Charles Lindberg struggling to stay awake so he doesn’t crash his plane in the Atlantic Ocean! I didn’t want to drag that out, but I did want to capture that sort of feeling.

Thus, when a storm hits and he needs his wits the most… they abandon him and he curls up in his cabin and falls asleep, unable to sort out what to do to keep himself and his ship intact.

Miraculously, the ship makes it through the storm and gets tossed up on the jagged rocks of an unfamiliar shore.

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A vast desert stretched in every direction

Confession time: I’ve never been to a desert. The closest I’ve ever gotten was the sand dunes on Lake Michigan. (No comparison at all, I know). But they feature heavily in Second Son and King’s Warrior for a couple of reasons. 1) I grew up watching movies like Lawrence of Arabia, The Black Stallion Returns, Sahara, and Capricorn One, in which deserts kind of featured a lot, and I think they just kind of strike me as mystical places. 2) When I was writing King’s Warrior, my family and I went to Lake Michigan and spent some time walking around on the beach. It was too cold to go swimming, but warm enough for shorts, and I was the only one wearing shorts. It was also ridiculously windy, and the sand kept blowing against my bare legs and stinging really bad… and my family just laughed at me as I walked along going, “ow! Ow! OW!!!!!!”

From that experience, the Harshlands were born. I picture them as a sort of cross between the Sahara desert (though not nearly so big) and the Arizona canyons and deserts of red rocks and shale. Somewhat barren and lifeless… and yet with a majestic beauty that cannot be denied.

“Let the prophecy take me… I have reached the end.”

After days at sea, hours in the desert, dehydrated, sore, weary, his skin ripped to shreds by the relentless wind and stinging grains of sand, and beginning to struggle against severe paranoia, Brant reaches the end of his own strength. For the first time in his life, he gives up and acknowledges that there is nothing more he can do.

And it is at this moment, that help arrives.

“Do you need help?”

The appearance of a young man, about his own age, offering help is hard for Brant to accept. Not because he doesn’t want help, but because he has learned to be distrustful. But he is at the end of his rope and so he follows the young man home, where he instantly feels more out of place than he has ever felt in his entire life!

However, these people welcome him with open arms. They care for him, tend his wounds, feed him, and Barr even offers him a job in return for room and board, an offer Brant gladly accepts. He is ready to begin a new life: a simple life on a farm with kind and caring people and perhaps a new friend, as well.

Discussion Questions:

1. What did you think of the Harshlands?
2. Were you “taken in” by Brant’s dream?
3. What do you think of Arnaud and his family?

 

 

~ jenelle

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