Two Serpents Rise Readalong Week 2

Posted April 20, 2015 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books / 4 Comments


Banner by Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

Welcome back to the Two Serpents Rise read-along! We’re in week 2 now, so if you haven’t read the book yet, below the cut lie spoilers. My apologies for being relatively late with this week’s post. It turned out to be a fairly busy Monday, but hey it is still Monday in most parts of the world, so that’s not too terrible, right?

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

As you can see, this week’s questions are courtesy of Lisa from Over the Effing Rainbow. Let’s just dive straight in since I know I wasn’t the only one to respond to this book/section with “ZOMG!”

1) So we’re halfway in, and we seem to have uncovered the culprit already… What did you make of the confrontation at Seven Leaf?

Exciting! And dramatic! And also, even leaving aside the fact that we still have half a book to go, entirely too easy and quick to be all there is to the matter. And, of course, we don’t really know why she did it yet, which is also a big loose end. I suspect there’ll be more investigations (and possibly more things going wrong) before we find the real culprit.

2) Temoc is still turning up at random, and still protesting his innocence. Doth he protest too much…?

Maybe, but then if I were innocent and in his position I might do too. So I don’t know. And especially with what we learn about Alaxic and the King in Red in the interlude… I kind of wouldn’t blame him for grabbing every opportunity to say “I’m innocent!” in the hopes that that’d keep the King in Red from not wrecking everything I was doing because he’s decided that destroying it all is better. And there were hints also that Temoc was aiming for a peaceful protest, weren’t there? He didn’t have the power and charisma to keep his followers from violence indefinitely, but if we take that at face value then I could see Temoc as protesting that he (and his followers) have nothing to do with it repeatedly so that they won’t get turned into scapegoats and examples whilst they haven’t done anything wrong.

Watch him be behind everything now.

3) The Red King. Discuss.

He’s… more human than we’d have thought, isn’t he? Then again, if we look at Denovo and Kevarian in the previous book perhaps that isn’t all that surprising. I admit I wasn’t expecting him to be so… amiable. He’s certainly got a personal beef with the gods, though, which I’m kind of curious to see more of. I’d like to know whether it’s an integral aspect of the bigger issues that we’re seeing in the novel so far.

4) And let’s not forget Mal! I confess, I did not see any of those surprises coming. What do you think of Caleb’s ‘sweetheart’ now?

To be honest, so far I’m really disappointed in their relationship. This is partially because I don’t grasp that whole “I want to sleep with you. Let’s date!” mentality that they’ve got going on. There’s just… nothing for them to build a relationship on except for Gladstone telling me that there is. I don’t like it. Which also means that every aspect of this second book that involved their relationship felt flat and off.

The great revelation with Mal being religious and offering blood to the (old) gods and Caleb being enraged lacked a dimension that the book told me it should have. I did appreciate them, though, and I wasn’t expecting them at all. I liked the King in Red’s reasoning about sending her and Caleb and I really liked what we learned about Caleb’s scars and the way that they were able to use those to deal with Allie.

And… I think that’s me thought and rambled out. I didn’t get along with this section as much as th previous one or the first book, but it’s still really well-written. I loved learning about the Couatl ride and the discussion that Mal and Caleb had about adrenaline. She’s fearless, you have to give her that. And I liked getting to know the Wardens (they were Warders, right?) and the poker game. Having Mal and Caleb discuss deities and his worshipping a goddess despite claiming not to were all fascinating.


4 responses to “Two Serpents Rise Readalong Week 2

  1. Yeah, I agree – I think in relation to Temoc our own feelings about the human sacrifice do kind of have an impact on how we think – on top of that he’s labelled a terrorist – which doesn’t really make you want to like him. Oddly, I don’t dislike or distrust him – so maybe that’s just Gladstone writing this in a way to draw us in or maybe he is trustworthy. After all, we’ve not heard his side of things up to this point. I do think there’s something beneath the visits – it’s like he’s waiting for something to happen to Caleb and wants to be there when it does – almost like he’s planted the seed of something and is waiting for it to come to fruition. Or maybe I’m just over thinking it!
    Strangely, I felt less creeped out by the Red King in this section – and, like you said, this part felt a little bit flatter for me. I don’t mind the relationship as such – except that it’s not really a relationship or at least it feels very one sided. Maybe I just want there to be a relationship – which pretty much sums up Caleb’s feelings too. I think at the end of the day the biggest surprise is going to be Caleb – well, maybe not because Mal is also keeping her cards close at the moment. I just can’t help feeling that at the moment Caleb’s an unknown quantity that will be revealed later.
    Lynn 😀

    • Exactly! So far, what have we seen Temoc do that is actually untrustworthy (and isn’t related to his being from a culture that values things we think are horrible)? Break into Caleb’s home to deliver a message to the Red King. That’s it. We have also learned that he okayed giving his son a non-native name to help build relationships with foreigners, although I’m pretty sure I’m misremembering or missing out on an important detail of nuance there. But, so far, what we’ve actually seen of Temoc and have been told about him tell two different stories and I’m super-curious which of the two is going to end up being closer to the truth.

      I don’t think you’re overthinking it! We know Caleb didn’t go through the final phase of the initiation, right? I think he mentioned what it was to Mal, but my memory is ridiculously bad. So, taking that into account, he could be waiting for that, maybe? Or for Caleb to be ready to go through it?

      I think perhaps it’s because the Red King is more human in this section? We learn that some of his actions stem from losing his lover and that he still feels that loss deeply. It’s a big, magic-wielding creepy skeleton with no emotions to show suddenly openly displaying that he’s not all that different after all. That lessens the creep-factor a bit, I think.

      Ooooooh. I like that description of seeing a relationship because we want there to be one. I don’t know if that’s what we’ll get, but I wouldn’t be surprised! We already know that Gladstone is perfectly happy to play with reader conceptions from the way he handled Denovo.

      Caleb is definitely an unknown quantity. As is Mal. And the title of the book is “Two Serpents Rise”, right? So what if it refers (in part) to the both of them somehow?

  2. We learned that Temoc lead a peaceful, multi-day protest in the past, at least until things got violent. And I have to wonder what kicked off the violence and if Temoc encouraged it in any way. So far, we’ve only seen a few snippets of such followers today – doing loud but peaceful protests. Still, they want the right to cut out human hearts on stone altars.

    I really liked the Wardens and the card game too. I forgot to mention it in my post, but the discussion over what constitutes worship was a lot of fun. I liked that Caleb was serious and focused on the card game, and yet didn’t consider it worship, partly because the goddess comes, plays, and then is gone. Kind of like rainstorms in the desert.

    • Thank you! <3 I have very little trust in my own memory and didn’t have the time to look up it. Come to think of it, have we ever seen Temoc do anything that we’d label him a terrorist? Because so far all we’ve seen is snippets of him leading a peaceful protest and, uh, ‘being a bum’ as Caleb put it. (And, okay, breaking into Caleb’s house. There’s that.) But other than that all we’ve seen of Temoc and his modern-day followers is peaceful. So… Could there be someone else setting Temoc and his followers up as an easy scapegoat? Are some of his followers more extreme in their measures? Is Temoc entirely truthful with his son? And, a point which I think Lynn brought up somewhere, why is he visiting his son now? They’re not close and while they may see each other often enough for Caleb to tell when he’s around that doesn’t suggests two visits in that short a time frame, provided you count the first time as an actual visit and not his using Caleb as a mouthpiece towards Kopil.

      I have to wonder: how much of our reaction to what Temoc and his followers want come from us living in the society we live in and our feelings about human sacrifice? And how much is Gladstone using that reaction to lead us down a specific kind of reasoning. I’m really, really curious to learn more about Temoc and what he actually wants. Perhaps we’ll see something similar to what we saw in “Three Parts Dead” between Tara and Abelard and Temoc and the Red King will both have to compromise on their beliefs and ideals to save the city. Or perhaps Caleb will have to. He’s certainly poised, however unwillingly, as a bridge between the city’s old religion and the RKC with those scars, which neither Temoc nor the Red King are. And that might tie in with Lisa quoting the Red King about destroying gods too.

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