Two Serpents Rise Readalong Week 1

Posted April 13, 2015 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books / 6 Comments

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And thus, as it is Monday, the first week of the readalong for Two Serpents Rise by Max Gladstone is here and, with it, the questions. Whoot! To remind us all, here’s the schedule:

1st Post Date: April 13th Book 1: chapter 1-Interlude: Fire, hosted by Dab of Darkness
2nd Post Date: April 20th Book 2: chapter 16-Interlude: Dreams, hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow
3rd Post Date: April 27th Book 3: chapter 29-Interlude: Tea, Hosted by Violin in a Void
4th Post Date: May 4th Book 4: chapter 36-Epilogue, hosted by Little Lion Lynnet’s

This week’s set of questions is hosted by Susan from Dab of Darkness. Enjoy! ^_^

Before I get to answering Susan’s questions, if you’ve read my comments in the first readalong, you may recall that I had a fair few issues with the opening of Three Parts Dead. I am happy to report that, short of the gambling goddess taking a little longer than I’d have wanted to solidify into something that worked for my brain, I really like the way this book opens. I was sucked in straight-away.

1) Poison in the Bright Mirror reservoir! What are your thoughts on the infestation? Then an explosion later on! Any ideas of who is the culprit yet? Are the two events related?

I’d say that I’d be highly surprised if the two aren’t related, but since we played that game in Three Parts Dead already, for all I know it’s just a red herring and Gladstone’s playing on our sense of how narratives are supposed to play out to create false leads and doubt. Or, you know, that could be me overthinking the whole thing. As for the culprit… I have no idea just yet. Though I don’t trust Temoc. Or Alaxic. And I probably shouldn’t be trusting the Red King either, but that just seems like a wise strategy when dealing with Craftspeople in general.

I am intrigued, though, and just a tiny bit scared. I mean, water that will spear you from the inside out and kill you? *shudders* That’s just nasty. And creepy. And did I mention how it was nasty? And that explosion! I wasn’t expecting that at all!

I have to say, I really enjoy Gladstone’s ability to take a small detail (like that tower of cards, to take the least spoilery example so far that I can think of) and turn it into something that’s incredibly meaningful. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to reread Three Parts Dead, that attention to detail. I’m really hoping to see more of it as the story goes on because it always makes me squeeful.

2) Let’s talk about Mal and the sport of cliff running. Care to compare this sport to one here in our real world? What do you think Mal gets out of the sport?

I’m not a sports-oriented person at all, sorry. I suppose it reminds me a bit of parcour? Only with magic to make the whole thing even more dangerous. And I’d guess Mal gets out of it the same things extreme sportspeople get out of it?

3) Are you enjoying the deities and culture this book is infused with? Has any of the architecture wowed or frightened you?

Not the architecture. Just that water. It’s not even a normal poison. IT WILL RIP YOU APART IF YOU DRINK IT. Okay, maybe it won’t and I know that poison is not always (or, uh, often, I think) a peaceful way to go either. So I’m not sure why this is creeping me out as much as it is. BUT IT IS CREEPY AND NASTY.

And I really really like the setting. I was certain, for the first chapter or two, that I was going to be missing Alt Coulomb and Tara and everyone, but… I’m actually not. I really, really love the setting and the fact that we’ve got a much stronger sense of it than we did in Three Parts Dead. And there are some similarities between the cities and setting so far, but nothing that makes me feel like Dresediel Lex is Alt Coulomb painted over, you know? It’s its own city and has its own character.

AND LOOK IT IS A NOT-DEAD DELIVERY RAT.

Um, but yes. I’m loving the fact that this book’s setting is so different from what we normally see. I’d perhaps like a stronger sense of a different societal mindset, but I really really like the setting from what I’ve seen so far.

4) The Red King is a pretty serious guy. Will he make the deal with Alaxic concerning the powerhouses known as Achel & Aquel?

If he needs the power as much as Alaxic is certain, I’d guess so? He’d definitely make sure the contract was sound, though. The conspiracy-theory-loving side of me thinks it could just as easily be a sneaky and stealthy way to try and curb his powers for… something. We know gods can come back to life, after all. That said, I don’t think Gladstone’s going to do that again in this book. (At least I hope not. I would sulk at the book.) Still, since we already know how high the stakes can go in this world…

5) Finally, Caleb has a wealth of scars, linguistic skills, and a complex relationship with his father. Discuss!

Multilingualism FOR THE WIN. I like how Gladstone’s handled it. I’m not used to seeing it handled decently. I’m used to authors kind of… ignoring it unless absolutely necessary for Plot Purposes. That’s not quite what you get from Caleb. You could argue that strategic use of a minority language is a plot reason, except for the part where this is what people actually do. I really, really like what Gladstone’s done in that discussion between Caleb and Teo about her family. As much for what it tells us about the languages in this setting as it does about Teo.

And Caleb’s foreign name. I enjoyed getting an explanation of that since he did rather stick out like the proverbial sore thumb.

I liked the glimpses between Caleb and his father too, though I’m wary of Temoc. I don’t trust him. And that’s not because he’s a terrorist. Well, not entirely. But also just the way he treats Caleb. There’s something that feels off about that. Maybe he’s just that kind of distant, neglectful father, though? Caleb seems to think about him along those lines. I don’t know. Temoc just makes me uneasy. I suspect we’ll see more of him because there’s definitely something going on that we just don’t know about yet.

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6 responses to “Two Serpents Rise Readalong Week 1

  1. I found this book very easy to get into so far. I also wondered whether I’d miss the characters from the first book – and I’m not saying I wouldn’t like to read more from them – but I feel like this story has already grabbed my attention really well. The whole poisoned reservoir got my attention to be honest! What a horrible way to go.
    Lynn 😀

  2. I totally forgot to mention the water, but I have to agree – that’s terrifying! Can you boil the water to kill the demons, I wonder?

    5. Temoc’s relationship with Caleb does feel quite odd, but I guess it’s because it’s nothing like any kind of normal father-son relationship. Temoc clearly considers his religion (and the related terrorism) to be more important than anything else, and it’s almost like Caleb is a contact rather than family. Temoc can use him to keep an eye on the enemy camp, so to speak, and there are other ways Temoc can use him, like he does in an attempt to prove his innocence. As result, I don’t trust him either, but I believe him when he says he wasn’t responsible for the recent disasters.

    • Looks like we all forgot to mention something this week. I forgot the snakes. And the slaughterhouse. (Which, um, can we not ever go into it, please, book? Like ever. That description was bad enough and I like having it blotted out of my memory. It’s one of those times where I’m super-glad I’m not a visual-oriented reader. Lack of visuals can be a good thing!)

      Ooooh, good point on Caleb being more of a contact for Temoc. It’s an interesting point about the terrorism since Temoc doesn’t necessarily seem too happy with the attacks either. But I’d imagine that’s more because they make what he’s striving for harder to achieve and it killed one of the gods he worships than because of the way it can mess up the city and the people in it?

  3. The Water Demons (tzemet?) are brutal! I would not want to die that way, not that I have made an extensive list of ways I want to die. I feel for that guard who was found dead.

    Hooray for the delivery rats! Someone else commented on the use of animals for small services too.

    I like the multilingualism too. Though Caleb doesn’t seem particularly proud of it. He was raised with High Quechal and all the other cultural accoutrements that came with it, like human sacrifice. So I think he definitely connects his language skills to that rough time of his life and a culture built of blood sacrifice.

    • They’re creepy! *shudders* I suspect we haven’t seen the last of them yet, but I kind of really hope that we have.

      Almost certainly, yes. I’m really curious to see more of his multilingualism and how it plays a role in the story. I’m curious about why he’s rejected the culture he was raised in as thoroughly as he seems to have. There’s a story there too and I hope it’s one we’ll get to hear because culture clashes are fun to read about! Plus, I think Gladstone’d be able to pull off the nuances needed to keep the old culture from reading like it was All Evil All The Time. I’m looking forward to book 2 and the associated questions! <3

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