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


Sarah Pennington

1. Honestly, when I read the Corridor scene, my main thought was of the Aes Sedai initiation test thing in the Wheel of Time series. It’s a very similar concept, and I wondered if you’d borrowed the idea from there. I did find it interesting, though.
2. I think they all reflect Ky’s fear that things will change between him and his brother — that his brother will betray him or that the crown will indeed go to his brother whether he wants it or not, either of which would be a change. And they reflect his pride and his desire to always be first and best.
3. I thought the rest of the ceremony made sense. And I’m glad that I’m no longer confused about why Ky was named Ky when I was pretty sure he was named Seamus in King’s Warrior.
4. He’s interesting, I suppose. That’s all I’ve got.
5. Not a chance. Or, not in the form it’s currently in. I know they will get out, but I doubt it’ll be in the way they planned.


1. Oh, yes! The Aes Sedai initiation test was definitely another big influence as well.
2. Yep. His fear of betrayal. His fear of being the betrayer. And his fear of working hard for something only to lose it in the end. And of a changing relationship with his brother, for sure.
3. Hehe, yeah… name changes are tricky to work with and keep people from being confused.
4 – 5: grin


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