Second Son Read Along: Chapter 27

Second Son Read Along

All the fun of Fantasy Month and the read along are coming to a close. It’s been such a blast, and I’ve been enjoying the annual celebration of my favorite genre all month long, and when it’s over… I’m gonna need a nap!

Anyway, let’s dive into chapter 27 and see what things are happening in the world of Tellurae Aquaous before the final pages are turned, shall we?

A war of attrition

The constant attacks on the borders of Llycaelon by the seheowks are beginning to wear Seamas down. Worried about her husband, Llewana turns to Seamas’ best friend to try and understand why Seamas has grown so quiet and withdrawn lately, but even though Tobias understands much of what their king is struggling with, he does not know everything that weighs on his sovereign. Seamas is king, but he is troubled and burdened by the guilt of his own misdeeds of the past, while also being harried on one side by the constant frustration of the seheowks and on the other by untrustworthy counselors…

A new beginning

Meanwhile, back in Aom-igh, Brant has never been happier. Imojean accepted his marriage proposal, the seheowk threat has been vanquished, the roads are safe, King Arnaud’s rule is secure, and Brant is working on his own little homestead. The warrior has hung up his sword and finds himself surrounded by a village of good people who appreciate his work ethic and are more than willing to befriend their new neighbor.

Also, I’m sorry you don’t get to see Brant and Imojean’s wedding. It was quiet and small.

A family ride

Once again we time hop forward a bit (approximately 10 years) in the middle of a chapter. In that time, the threat of the seheowks has been basically neutralized, and Seamas, having a rare good day, decides to take a day with his family to go riding and show his son around the country he will one day rule.

But in the midst of this peaceful, happy moment as a family… tragedy strikes.

A formal apology

My dad keeps asking if I am ever going to issue a formal and public apology to Ky. The answer is “yes.” This is it. I am sorry. When I began writing Second Son, I had no intention of making his life so miserable. I fully expected him to be a jerk and kind of a bully even as a kid… but then the story… as it so often does, decided that it was going to wander off in its own direction and all of my carefully laid plans flew out the window. Ky surprised me. I did not mean to make him a tragic character, he was very much supposed to be a fairly cut-and-dry villain… but I learned long ago to listen to my characters when they take the reins of the story, they’re usually right.

I am sorry, Ky.

Discussion Questions

1. Do you think I owe Ky/Seamas that apology?

2. Who do you think Llewana wanted Seamas to forgive?

3. How did you feel about Seamas’ conversation with his mother at the end of the chapter?

~ jenelle

9 Comments

Sarah Pennington

1. Yes. Yes, you do.
2. Herself and Brant both, I think. Herself for letting Brant go; Brant for being who he is and making the choices he made.
3. I’m frustrated. Immensely.

Reply
jenelle

Yeah, I think I do, too. Poor Seamas. I really expected him to be a fairly cut-and-dry villain after writing King’s Warrior, and then he showed up as this awesome older brother figure, with all the makings of a hero, and I realized I had my work cut out for me to get him to the point of near-madness that brings about the events in KW. It was not easy!

Yeah, a lot of that. Probably a little bit of asking him to forgive himself, as well, for whatever it was he felt guilty about but never explained to her.

That scene frustrates me, as well. I hated writing it. But in some ways, Seamas’ depression/madness is genetic. Brant deals with it a little bit in Minstrel’s Call, even.

Reply
Nancy Jean Walker

1) Most definitely! He also may deserve his own book: First Son! ;)
2) Himself.
3) I felt very sad for both Seamus and his mother!

Reply
Jim Walker

Apology to Ky:

Tragic Figures are woven throughout Great Literature….as they are throughout Life. I am a reader who genuinely likes Ky and Seamas. Ky is unaware that his life is being manipulated to safeguard a “secret prophecy”……but we the reader have full knowledge of this. Whether this is an injustice to Ky or not …remains to be seen. Perhaps it is meant to protect him…….or to protect those who he himself would care the most about. I LOVE it when it is Ky who goes to congratulate Rhoyan after their Championship Match. Certainly that would be a hard thing to do for any older brother to a younger brother….and regardless as to Ky’s genuine inner feelings (which we are not privy to)……….Ky does indeed seek out his younger brother to congratulate and restore him to the celebration.

One of the biggest challenges for the reader in any story…..is understanding that every character we meet…..is typically being presented to us through the eyes of one particular character. It is one of the things that bothers me greatly about “The Lord of the Rings” (and I love the Lord of the Rings) is that much of our perception of different characters is determined on the basis of Gandalf’s opinion of them or Gandalf’s interaction with them……and Gandalf is hardly a perfect character. I think of the movie version where they are fighting the Orcs in the Mines of Moria and both Pippin and Merry are lying on the floor….un-moving…..and Gandalf and Aragorn’s ONLY CONCERN is for the well-being of Frodo. You can almost see Gandalf pushing Merry and Pippin out of his way as some kind of useless burden preventing him from reaching the only one that matters…..at least to Gandalf. It is why I LOVE Thranduil’s interactions with Gandalf. Thranduil does not worship or even revere Gandalf….and it may well be that Gandalf has never had any positive interaction with Thranduil because Gandalf did not wish to….or Thranduil was not useful to him. I understand that Gandalf has a bigger purpose…..but if Gandalf has zero regard for someone because they are not necessary to his purpose……that doesn’t mean that disdain for Gandalf is not warranted or right.

We see a similar difficulty in the treatment of Boromir and Frodo. So many readers are quick to condemn Boromir because he was tempted to use the Ring of Power….. to DEFEAT SAURON…..and yet we are given such little back-story about how Boromir and his Father have been fighting Sauron for his entire life….which would certainly mean that Boromir has lost people dear to him……just as Frodo is dear to Gandalf. We don’t know what would have become of Boromir had he used the Ring…..but what we do know…..is that Boromir’s ONLY WISH REGARDING THE RING….was to use it to defeat Sauron. At the time Boromir had the opportunity………HE was the only member of the Fellowship who understood the true impact of war with Sauron…….and was the only member of the Fellowship who had everything to lose…if Sauron was not defeated. At this point in time….Aragorn was not inclined to LEAD this necessary war against Sauron……..but Boromir was capable, ready, and willing….simply because he would be fighting Sauron with or without the Ring of Power….as he had already been doing his entire life. The fact that Gandalf demonstrates such LITTLE REGARD for this Great Effort on the part of Boromir, Denethor, and Gondor while having ULTIMATE REGARD for the quiet, behind the scenes efforts of Aragorn…..is hard to embrace……at least for me. As a result of Gandalf’s lack of genuine appreciation for Boromir…..while pouring all of his concern and affection towards Frodo and Aragorn……causes me to MUCH PREFER Boromir to Gandalf. Gandalf believes that his own fight for Middle Earth is far more important than Boromir’s petty battle to fight for Gondor. While Boromir is condemned for his desire to use the ring……Frodo’s attachment to the Ring is considered tragic and certainly is not his fault….in the eyes of the reader. Interesting how Boromir is condemned for wanting to use the ring…….to save “his people”….while Frodo is a sympathetic figure when he simply wants to keep the ring for himself…..in spite of his own knowledge of what is at stake if the ring is not destroyed.

I know that I have “over-stated” the case to make my point. We the reader are being told the story through the eyes of the characters that the author prefers and thus how the author wants us to shape our understanding of the story and the other characters. One of the most beautiful elements of reading a Great Story….is that the Author truly doesn’t control how different readers will “connect the dots” of the story and the characters.

Back to the tragic character of Ky/Seamas. I LOVE the relationship between Ky and Rhoyan. I could share so many elements of this relationship…..but you simply need to read the book. I HATE the way so many elements of the story are manipulated against Ky……..of which he has zero knowledge. The episode with Ramius and Ky’s first horse-riding lesson is a very powerful story that shows how Ky transitions from being a scared boy…….to becoming an angry young man within a matter of minutes………and none of this was Ky’s doing. The saving grace in this particular moment in the book is what Stiorne says to Ramius afterwards. Personally I would have had Ky hear all of this and then see King Stiorne break Ramius’ face with a well-landed punch…….with a descriptive comment that “all parties to the affair felt that justice had been served”…….but Jenelle handled this in a much “classier fashion”…..and in a very brief interchange…….gave the readers a reason to LOVE King Stiorne.

One of the things that we forget when we think about the tragic figure of Ky/Seamas…..is that Rhoyan/Brant is no less tragic. Anything and Everything that Ky loses…..Brant also loses. The Difference is in their responses to their shared losses. Seamas loses himself……Brant remains true in spite of loss that is no less than anything that Seamas has faced. I fear that I would become Seamas………but I hope I would become Brant!

That is the POWER of story-telling. What life oftentimes is……….with a reminder of what we hope to be striving towards!

I think the author’s portrayal reflects the BEST and the WORST of Ky/Seamas. I think Seamas owes the author a “THANK YOU” for at least reminding the readers that he had his beautiful and admirable moments….and if anybody needs to apologize……….it certainly is NOT…..the author!

An additional note for anyone reading this response……….Brant is AWESOME…..but he is simply paving the way……….to………KIERNAN KANE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Reply
jenelle

I love everything about this entire comment. And I agree. In many ways, I hate that the characters of the Lord of the Rings are often misjudged entirely on the way that Peter Jackson chose to represent them in the movies. We are re-watching the movies right now and there are many things that frustrate me about the way that certain things were portrayed in the movies that never happened that way in the books. And yet, I do love the movies, and I love how they opened up the story to so many people who will never read them.

Thank you so much for this comment, I love hearing your thoughts on these things.

KIERNAN!!!!!! :)

Reply
Jill Stengl

Great comments! I don’t have much to add–it’s all been said!–but I will say that your portrayal of Ky/Seamas is one of my favorite aspects of this book. So well done!

My own dear mother descended into paranoid schizophrenia then Alzheimer’s. I lost her many years before her death in 2017, so I can easily relate to Seamas’s pain. The moments of clarity are treasures to cherish, but so few.

Reply
jenelle

I’m glad you enjoyed that! Thank you for your kind comments and for reading along.

I’m sorry to hear that. My grandpa struggled with Alzheimers before he died, it is such a difficult thing to lose someone before you really “lose” them.

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