Our host for part three of the RoT read-along is Lynn from Lynn’s Book Blog, and I was so glad when her set of questions landed in my inbox. The scheduled reading for this part ended on such a cliffhanger, but I didn’t want to read any more until I’d written all my answers. Now, at last I am free to continue!
Oh, and here are my answers:
1. The election competition. Sabetha isn’t wasting any time throwing pranks at Locke and Jean. Mostly it seemed fairly harmless, or at least not overly serious, until they were kidnapped and put onto a ship and taken out to sea. What did you make of Sabetha’s latest plan? And what did you think about the way she executed it?
Firstly, I was glad that this plan finally gives the reader the opportunity to see present-day Sabetha! I waited a long time for that. I like how impeccably stylish she is, and that she’s free to show her red hair (her argument with Locke at the end of this section of the read-along suggests how dangerous her hair colour has been for her).
Sabetha certainly surprised me with her plan. I expected her to try something, but nothing as dramatic as having Locke and Jean kidnapped, imprisoned, and sent away on a cruise! While I admire her audacity, that pissed me off.
I fell for the seduction about as hard as Locke did; it was only when he tasted her perfume that I got suspicious. She’d had such a long talk with him, and I think that what she said about being happy to see him was sincere, so I thought that maybe she really did just want to kiss him. And all this after I said, in part one, that I didn’t think she’d just fall into his arms even if she wanted to!
On the downside, it’s such a cliche – a beautiful woman uses her charms and a man’s infatuation to deceive him? Not very imaginative Sabetha. And apparently she used the same tactic to con men in Emberlain. Is this the only option for a beautiful female thief operating alone? I took Sabetha’s side in part two of the read-along, but now I find my allegiances shifting again. Locke might have been stupid to fall for this, but it was cruel (and cliche) of her to exploit his feelings.
What does intrigue me though is that Sabetha seems to have political reasons for wanting to prevent Locke and Jean from winning. When Locke tells her about Stragos she says, “You brought the gods-damned Archon down! You silly, stupid, lucky little wretches!” This suggests to me that there are some wide-ranging political effects that she understands but Locke and the reader do not. Then, when she drugs Locke she tells him that the Tel Verrar story convinced her to go ahead with this plan, and she has to win, “for both our sakes.” Which leads me to think – what will happen if Patience’s faction wins this game?
2. During the escape overboard and Jean’s rather subtle nose dive into the water – I was curious about the lights Locke saw deep in the water when he was performing his rescue – Locke thought they looked different once he was under the waves which I suppose they would but he also had the feeling that he was being watched? Do you think this relates back to the Eldren or some other presence?
Locke certainly seems to think so – he has a little rant about the Eldren once he’s in the boat. It sounds like something that might be significant later, but I don’t have any theories. However, it just occurred to me that Sabetha’s little kidnapping trick may have been (at least in part) a plot device to allow Locke to have this encounter with the lights. I wonder if it’s related to that weird sea passage that Locke and Jean passed through on The Poison Orchid, the one where something in the mist called Locke by his real name.
3. Given that Locke hadn’t seen Sabetha for five years how did you think their first meeting together went (well, it wasn’t strictly speaking their first meeting of course – were you surprised that Jean and Locke hadn’t figured out that the woman pickpocket was Sabetha?) and also what did you make of Jean and Sabetha’s reaction to each other?
I wasn’t surprised that Locke and Jean didn’t recognise Sabetha. This is not the kind of game where she would put on a disguise and scam them so directly, so they weren’t expecting it. It was a nice trick too – Sabetha’s just so damn good. And, narratively speaking, it’s better that Locke and Jean don’t realise who the old lady is at first.
Obviously, their next meeting didn’t go well at all, given that it ended with Locke drugged, Jean beaten, and both kidnapped and in chains on a ship headed out to sea! Before Locke started licking Sabetha’s neck, however, I thought it was fine. Locke’s nervousness and Jean’s annoyance was funny. Since these scenes are parallel to the Espara plot, you can imagine that Jean’s had it up to here with lovesick Locke. But while Locke still acts like a love-struck teenager, Sabetha seems to have calmed down and isn’t as bitter as her teenaged self. There are obviously still issues between them, so a few barbed words are expected, but at least they can catch up on each other’s lives and share some of their feelings.
I thought Jean could have been a bit warmer at their meeting though. They grew up together, after all, and as Sabetha says, they’re rivals, not enemies. I find Locke’s explanation about Ezri to be a bit weak. It’s easier for me to see his attitude as pure suspicion of Sabetha’s methods. She has just as much reason to be suspicious of them, however, and she still gave Jean a friendly hug.
4. So, the gang have arrived in Espara and already the plans have gone wrong through no fault of their own! Jail for a year plus lose a hand for slapping a noble?? What do you think of the justice system in Espara and how does this bode for the gang?
Is it heartless that I didn’t even bat an eyelid at Moncraine’s sentence? The justice system comes as no surprise – think of how all the nobles in Camorr are protected by the Secret Peace. That’s not an official law, but it’s a symptom of the huge disparity between rich and poor. Lynch frequently emphasises this disparity by stating, for example, that a rich man’s outfit is worth a decade of wages for a labourer. With that sort of inequality it makes sense that the law would offer so much protection to a noble and treat the common man with injustice. As Salvard explains:
Surely you understand that those of elevated blood don’t keep laws on the books that would require them to take abuse from their inferiors.
When Locke and Sabetha speak to Boulidazi, it’s clear that his honour is considered so important – and so easily damaged – that it should be protected by imprisoning a man and chopping his hand off. The offending incident isn’t just about a disagreement between two people – it’s about a commoner daring to strike a noble, a disgrace that the law won’t tolerate.
Now Locke and Sabetha have given an even greater insult to Boulidazi’s honour by convincing him to pardon Moncraine, pay off his debts and finance his theatre company, while letting him believe that he has a chance with Sabetha. Locke should hope that Boulidazi is so embarrassed that he won’t go to the authorities. I haven’t thought much about what will happen to them, I’m just so glad I can go and find out now that I’ve answered this week’s questions!
5. The acting company are finally coming together and we’re watching the gang as they try to read, act and grab the best parts – are you all ‘happy face’ with the whole theatre scenes or, sad face! Also, I can’t help feeling like this whole storyline is a step out of character for the gang. Any ideas of how it will play out??
Happy face 🙂 It’s funny and entertaining. I liked the tension between the Sanzas, and the fight that breaks out when Chantel insults Sabetha, Locke insults Chantel, Bertrand tries to beat up Locke, and Jean jumps in to fight with Bertrand.
I don’t think this is out of character at all. True, it’s quite unlike other things the Bastards have done, but they have been sent on a variety of training missions. Locke spent a summer working on a farm and Sabetha worked as a scullery maid. It adds to their experiences, which, as Chains says, gives them the freedom to fit in anywhere.
Theatre is at least more ‘in character’ than manual labour. Moncraine’s acting advice is perhaps a wee bit tedious, but I like seeing the Bastards learning to play the kinds of roles that make their greatest schemes possible.
6. We are also being introduced to a number of new characters, particularly Moncraine and Boulidazi. What are your first impressions of these two and the other new characters in the Company and any particular likes or dislikes so far?
Moncraine is one of those talented egotistical bastards who might be a terrible person most of the time, but is so fantastically skilled in one significant way that you admire him anyway. He’s not the kind of person I want to hang out with in real life, but he’s wonderful on the page.
Boulidazi has just become an antagonist, but I like him. Yes, he was going to see Moncraine imprisoned and maimed for slapping him, but he’s acting according to his culture. That doesn’t make it right, but you can also see how he would be publicly disgraced if Moncraine wash’t punished, and you can understand his anger. Nevertheless he is very reasonable, agreeing quite easily to Locke and Sabetha’s suggestions. He doesn’t hold a grudge, and I think his offer of patronage was well-intentioned.
Dislikes? I wasn’t too keen about Chantel pitching up, because I’m not in the mood for a catfight between her and Sabetha. No serious dislikes though.
7. The rooftop scene and the apology. How did it all go so wrong? And how will Locke get out of this latest fix with Boulidazi?
I didn’t see that coming. I’ve done a complete turnaround since part 2 of the read-along, and now I’m on #TeamLocke. Why is Sabetha giving him such a hard time? Everything seemed to be ok, but when he tries to have a serious conversation with her again she’s surly and bitchy.
I felt so proud of Locke though – he expresses himself as well as he can, and he stands up for himself when Sabetha snaps at him about the wine and not wanting to talk to him. Go Locke!
And then it all went down in flames…. I don’t know what to make of the whole red-hair thing. Since we get a lot of narrative from Locke’s POV, I think it’s fair to say that he isn’t infatuated with Sabetha because of her red hair. That certainly caught his attention and stayed with him, but he loves so many other things about her. Sabetha should have realised this; if he was obsessed with her hair, he might have asked her to wear her natural colour or something.
Locke doesn’t even seem to think her red hair is significant in any way except its beauty, which is why Sabetha’s outburst seems especially unfair. But, admittedly, this could be another thing that Locke has been insensitive about. The red-head problems that Sabetha mention seem to be serious social issues that Locke should be familiar with. If anything, it’s really weird that this has never come up before. They’ve lived together for years – did Locke never see her dyeing her hair? Never ask Sabetha or anyone else about it? I can’t believe I’m saying something like this, but I would like to know more about Sabetha’s hair.
“Gods, as far as Locke was concerned, watching Sabetha handle people was as good as watching any other girl in the world take off her clothes.”
That’s pretty hot Locke 🙂 I wonder how Sabetha would react if he told her that…
“We need to be within reasonable distance of a beach, and we need a rolling deck, and we need to not be tied up in the hold when our chance comes.”
Locke and Jean get their storm and for some reason the ship gets much closer to a beach than it should. How very convenient – a little help from Patience perhaps?
LOL: “Verena’s our Amadine,” said Moncraine. “There’s a certain deficiency of breasts in the company, and while yours may be larger than hers, Sylvanus, I doubt as many people would pay to see them.”
Moncraine speaking about the play: “And we’ll cut avuncular and Twitch, the comic relief thieves, for a certainty.”
Makes me think of Lynch cutting Calo and Galdo’s throats in book 1.