Readalong Week 2: The Tale of Yin

Posted February 22, 2016 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books / 0 Comments

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Readalong Banner: Tale of Yin by Joyce Chng

Welcome to the second week of the readalong for The Tale of Yin by Joyce Chng. This week we’re reading what is known as Book 2: A Tree of Branches which continues exploring Mirra’s life.

The Schedule

Week 1: February 15th, Book 1: A Sea Of Waves, hosted by Lynn from Little Lion Lynnet’s (that’s me)
Week 2: February 22nd, Book 2: A Tree of Branches, hosted by Imyril from x+1
Week 3: February 29th, Sea Tales, hosted by Lisa from Over the Effing Rainbow
Week 4: March 7th, Ships’ Tales, hosted by Lynn from Little Lion Lynnet’s (me again!)

If you’d like to join us, you’ve got plenty of time before the first week’s worth of questions start and I hope you’ll enjoy the stories a lot! ^_^ If you don’t have a blog, you can join us at our GoodReads group or on Twitter.

The Questions

This week the questions come courtesy of Imyril from x+1.

1. Both Sea of Waves and Tree of Branches are very focused on character over action. Who were your favourites, and why?

Oooh, tough question. I think Josh is my favourite because he seems so sweet and steady. A bit like a cuddly teddybear. Auri is more distant, more unreachable, and Mirra is a bit prickly even when she’s clearly being gentle and friendly. She’s perhaps a little like a hedgehog? Or perhaps a cat? No. No, a hedgehog. Cats only have a couple of claws. (Which which they can do masses of damage, yes, I know, but. No. There’s something distinctly spiky about Mirra.)

2. Auri was very determined to take the Triad inland after the eruption, even when others turned back to the City. Do you think she was right? What do you think was driving her away from the sea?

Honestly, I don’t know. Josh pointed out that the Innerlands weren’t any safer or free from tremors, though, so I’m not sure that she was right.

At a guess, I’d wonder if she was running. The story starts with Auri receiving news that she’s beyond child-bearing age. That seemed to shatter her and then the volcano erupting destroyed the school she’d spent so hard building. And the sea holds, well, unhappy memories for her. If she can’t build a life on the coast and she can’t build a life in the City, where would she go but further inwards? Where else could she go that doesn’t have bad or tainted memories to haunt her?

So… I think it’s possible that she was running away from her life and the thought of rebuilding. It’s hard to tell since we don’t really learn anything about Auri’s motivations. Maybe she knew they’d need things to rebuild and she was going to travel to the Innerlands to get them.

(unless you talked about Auri a lot in Q1, in which case… How enigmatic was Fiona? What did you make of her choices, and Mirra’s response – especially given last week’s discussion of compassion?)

Fiona was incredibly enigmatic! If I’m honest, I really wish this section had been clearer because I’m not entirely sure what happened or why. That’s one of the limitations of the narrator because Mirra obviously can’t read Fiona’s mind, but I think their stay at the caravanserai could have done with more clarity and continuation. It wasn’t just Fiona’s actions that confused me. While I wish her actions had been clearer, I do like the mystery and the confusion because… well, things like that happen sometimes. The “people doing things you don’t understand and being unable to ever find out why” part that is. I liked that a lot and I wish I could have felt like the whole section was a deliberate choice at confusion between of Mirra’s status as an outside, but it made me too keenly aware of the fact that I was reading a story.

3. What are your thoughts on the world now Mirra’s travels have taken us further afield?

I’m still intrigued! And I admit, I read the appendix as well, which explains a lot more about the world too. I really loved seeing the touches of how things differed between regions and people as well as the hints and notes at people speaking different languages. It’s such a small thing, but it’s forgotten incredibly easily.

I do still wish we’d seen more of the appendix world-building in the stories, though I think some of that is also down to the way it mixes knowledge retained and knowledge lost. This world, as we gather from the notes, is kind of like a post-apocalyptic world? Though I haven’t really noticed it in the post-apocalyptic settings I’ve seen, there’s an overarching sense in discussions that it’s not a proper post-apocalyptic world unless all the knowledge we’ve gained is lost and we revert back to this kind of feudal pseudo-medieval setting. Likewise, we learn that The Tale of Yin is set after the collapse of an advanced civilisation, but it hasn’t lost all its knowledge. A lot of it, probably, and enough that the world isn’t at a point where it can rebuild its civilisation, but not to the extent we’re told to expect in such a scenario.

That gets a bit disorienting at times because the sparsity of the writing makes it hard for me to get a good sense of where the balance is, but it’s also something I thoroughly enjoyed because we don’t see it very often and it opens up a lot more questions about the world’s history and the people’s origins. What drove them to immigrate to this world? How did the previous society collapse? How well do they understand the technology still available to them? Etc. Etc. (What happened to the indigenous flora and fauna. We only see a little of it, but did the new introductions from Earth wreck the ecology until they were dominant and only the native species that could adapt fast enough survived? Were the species picked precisely because they were deemed no threat to the local environment? How long did the terraforming take? Etc.)

4. How did you interpret Mirra’s dreams?

Um, not as anything, I’m afraid. I just thought Mirra was recording her dreams and she was trying to work out some of her own feelings in them. I’m afraid my answer here is a little boring, sorry!

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