Readalong Week 1: Any Other Name

Posted June 6, 2016 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books / 4 Comments

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Readalong Banner: Any Other Name by Emma Newman
Banner for the SF/F Readalong for Any Other Name by Emma Newman. Banner by Hisham from Hisham El-far’s Bloggy Thing.

Aaaaand after dithering for a while and getting caught up on everyone’s blog posts, I decided to go ahead and just the readalong for the second book in the Split Worlds series by Emma Newman as well. Welcome to another month of readalong questions and speculations!

The Schedule

Week 1: Monday 6th June, Chapters 1-6, hosted by Over The Effing Rainbow
Week 2: Monday 13th June, Chapters 7-13, hosted by x + 1
Week 3: Monday 20th June, Chapters 14-20, hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog
Week 4: Monday 27th June, Chapters 21-End, hosted by The Illustrated Page

The Book

Any Other Name by Emma Newman

Cathy has been reluctantly married into the Iris family and moves to Londinium, the magical Nether reflection of London, setting her on a collision course with the restrictive, high-pressure social circles that demand propriety and obedience, things the vocal and free-spirited Cathy cannot abide. Will, meanwhile, is trying to find a compromise for his new bride, but whispers in his ear are urging him towards dark deeds…

Sam, determined to dive back into the world of Exilium to rescue innocents, crosses paths with Cathy and Max once again as Max and the gargoyle uncover more information about the mysterious Agency and the chain of events that wiped out the Bath Chapter. Sacrifices, terrible deals, and dreadful revelations mark this second installment of Emma Newman’s wondrous Split Worlds series.

The Questions

Spoilers for Chapters 1 through 6 underneath the cut!

Also, this is the “Lynn yells at a lot of characters” edition. It may alternatively be titled “DAMN IT WILL” or “SAM YOU GIT”, please choose as you deem appropriate.

1. Cathy’s wedding day arrives, and her mother wasn’t joking when she said she’d make sure Cathy would go through with it. What are your thoughts/feelings on Cathy’s forced circumstances?

OMG that was horrible! At first I thought she was just shell-shocked, but then the reveal that she’s been drugged (and Charmed) and. Just. Cathy’s family is now officially beyond redemption for me. (I mean, some members were already — I AM LOOKING AT YOU, CATHY’S DAD — but now everyone involved.)

I. Wow. I don’t know whether I should be proud of Cathy for her family thinking she’s that capable of getting free, but honestly I can’t really imagine them having the ability to think of Cathy in any kind of positive terms, even in situations like this. It’s more “We know you’re going to try, so rather than take a lot of expensive measures to keep you from succeeding, we’re just going to make sure you can’t try to start with. That’s much more economical”. I doubt any actual evaluation of Cathy’s abilities actually came into it. They clearly don’t care.

I hope Lord Poppy gets angry at them all at some point in the book. This is how bad it is. I’m honestly wishing Lord Poppy happened to someone. Multiple someones!

2. On the way to the ceremony, we get some surprising insights into Cathy’s father’s background and why he treats his daughter the way he does. Does this change your opinion of him at all? If so, what do you make of him now?

 

No, I can’t say that it does. I mean, it’s nice to see him get a bit of characterisation and a nuance that works within Nether society because it means we know a little more about how he thinks, but ugh. No. All it did was show us what an utter douchecanoe he is because he can barely sympathise with his own daughter. And he regrets not talking to her sooner?

WHOSE FAULT IS THAT?! I’ll give you a hint, Cathy’s dad. IT’S NOT YOUR DAUGHTER’S FAULT. Say it’s Cathy’s fault and I will toss these pillows at you. I have a lot of pillows to throw. You will suffocate under a veritable mountain of pillows. So don’t say it. Just. Don’t.

I just. I feel like I should write a detailed answer here, but it’s been a few days since I read it and my brain is more mush than usual and all I have are the feels. I HAVE A LOT OF FEELS. I suppose… Well done, Cathy’s dad, on putting me unequivocally on Cathy’s side on something? I mean, that’s a good thing. Just… Not anything else surrounding it. Those are terrible things.

3. The wedding itself, and the honeymoon, brings some unavoidable truths with it, for Cathy and Will both. Does their behavior in this part of the book change what you think of them/their outlook?

If the Split Worlds get turned into a film series (or a tv series), I vote that one of the OST tracks be titled “DAMN IT, WILL”. Because, truly, DAMN IT, WILL. Every time he makes progress he takes so many steps back. And it’s… actually quite fascinating to watch? Especially in these scenes where Cathy’s words are starting to make him think about the society he lives in (and his place and his own desires) because we can see the potential there so clearly. All he needs to do is take a deep breath, close his eyes, and let Cathy turn him around to look at things from a different angle.

He can go back to his old angle afterwards! (Sort of.) I expect him to go back to his old angle afterwards for a while and maybe dig his heels in even deeper whilst he lets his thoughts work on what he’s seen from Cathy’s perspective and how that influences… everything. He won’t stay the same afterwards whatever happens. I just… wish he’d dare take that step.

And damn it, Cathy, you just had him trying to listen and you off and get his hackles up! (Though GO YOU on refusing to be romantically involved with him when you clearly don’t want to.)

Cathy/Will are just such an interesting mix of personalities and they clash so badly. I really liked that they managed to have an actual conversation and that it felt like both of them gave the other a fair hearing for a bit. And then they both went and ruined it. >> But at least Cathy did it because she didn’t want to have sex with Will rather than because she’s a privileged brat. I have a lot more sympathy for Cathy’s reasons for ruining it. It probably helps that I’d do the same thing. Like, Will. Will. I know you have a brain. I know you’re following your society’s script, but use that brain. It does not take much effort to realise that trying to kiss (much less bed) Cathy that night was going to backfire horribly, no matter what Nether society says on the matter. You may not know Cathy well, but the only way you didn’t notice the neon signs proclaiming her sheer amount of DNW was through sheer willful obtuseness. That or I am overrating your ability to use the brain you have to come to logical conclusions. This is also a possibility.

STOP FAILING US ALL, WILL, AND GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER. Or, failing that, fail harder so we can just write you off and stop being quite so aggravating because we can see the person you could be if you just applied yourself to extending empathy and sympathy to your new wife.

Also. That ring. *shudders* That was just awful. That’s on par with the kind of awfulness Cathy’s parents pulled to get her to the wedding in the first place. Ugh.

Other comments

I’m now pretty certain that this book and the first one were conceived as a single manuscript that got cut up by the publisher for space reasons and… Honestly, I’m not a fan. I wish the opening chapters had taken a little more time to function as a stand-alone piece or that the link between the two books had been made a little clearer. But, admittedly, this is me being a little spoiled by series openings in recent reads. I’ve read some spectacularly good ones for both return readers and people picking up the series for the first time and these opening chapters… don’t live up to the way those were handled. This book gets some leeway since the time between the two books is so short and it’s harder to recap everything, especially when your main protagonist starts the story off drugged and dazed to force her compliance.

Sam. Sam Sam Sam Sam Sam. There are dozens upon dozens of ballads and hundreds of books talking about Faerie or fairies in some form or another. I know you want to go save the people in Faerie (hare-brained as that is) and time is short and all, but did you ever consider the thought of doing some research before jumping head-first into dealing with Fae lords? I mean, I know you were confused and not paying too much attention, but surely some of Cathy’s warnings and fears regarding Lord Poppy stuck?

Sam. Look. I don’t like you. This has been further established and no amount of wanting to save souls from Faerie (when the least bit of research could have told you it wasn’t going work before Lord Poppy even tried) and doing right by them is going to change that. Okay, maybe a little because clearly you’re not a total douche, but the point still stands. WHY DIDN’T YOU DO ANY RESEARCH, YOU GIT?!

Seriously, I’m writing this comment a little late, so I know that I’m not the only one who looks at interpreting”Give me X years of your life” bargains with Fae as “Oh, well I shall just live a little shorter. That’s fine by me” as clear signs that you should not be making deals with them AT ALL because you have NO CLUE what you’re doing. YOUR HARE-BRAINED SCHEME IS HARE-BRAINED AND I AM KIND OF ON BOARD THE WHOLE “LET US KEEP MUNDANES OUT OF EXILIUM” VIBE MAX HAS GOING.

AND MAX WANTED TO KILL YOU OVER IT. I would rather no one kill you over it, Sam, because that’s, um, a bit extreme. (Among other objections.) But YOU CLEARLY HAVE A BRAIN IT BEHOOVES YOU TO ACTUALLY USE IT.

Also! We’ve had mention of several generations of Nether people now and it sounds like there have been for… some time, so I think that puts last book’s theory that there have only been one or two generations firmly in the “discard” bin. Of course, we should maybe pay more attention to the Sorcerers’ sections? I discarded them initially, but I remembered them this read around. If the Sorcerers rule over the old Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy and the other kingdoms around at the time of the Heptarchy, or at least if those borders roughly apply to the Sorcerers’ domains (because centuries and wars and territorial disputes, etc), that puts the split quite a bit earlier than the Regency period suggested by Nether society.

Which… doesn’t, to me, explain how Nether society became so Regency in setting, but there you go. That adds another layer on top of everything. More mysteries to unravel with time! (Hopefully.)

Lastly. This post would not be complete with this final thought to leave you all on:

DAMN IT, WILL. YOU WERE DOING SO WELL.

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4 responses to “Readalong Week 1: Any Other Name

  1. Yes, dammit Will! You had to take all that goodwill you earned at the end of the last book and flush it completely down the toilet! And ooh, I was so mad at Cathy’s parents this week. I wanted to reach into the book and smack their skulls together.

    • I don’t blame you! Cathy’s parents were horrid. UGH. I hope we never have to deal with them again. And Willwillwill… I just want you to learn. Why is this so much to ask, Will? T_T