It’s week two of the Two Serpents Rise read-along and we’ve already had a boss fight! Lisa from Over the Effing Rainbow is our host this week, and has us working through all the drama, so lets get into it.
SPOILERS, of course 🙂
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?
I highly doubt that Allesandre is the culprit; the boss fight never happens in the middle. My mind has leapt to conspiracy theories. Was this set up so that Allesandre would attack and then be defeated? In “Interlude: Flame”, Alaxic describes Allesandre as his “sacrifice”, so I’m guessing that her death is part of the plan.
And who would stand to gain from that? Mal, perhaps, because by killing Allesandre she proves her loyalty to Kopil and RKC. Is she Alaxic’s agent for a scheme involving the serpents? Now that we know something about her religious beliefs and we’ve heard some criticisms of the environmental impact of RKC’s systems, it seems to be the most likely option.
By the way, did anyone else feel like this fight escalated unexpectedly? At first it just seemed like an investigation with a few guard for safety’s sake, and then suddenly Mal is talking about going to war and the whole thing gets dire fast. I thought the pacing was a bit off there.
2) Temoc is still turning up at random, and still protesting his innocence. Doth he protest too much…?
Now that you’ve mentioned it, I guess it’s a possibility, but I’m still inclined to believe that he’s telling the truth.
Also, while I’m unlikely to side with a religious terrorist, fantatic, Temoc has made some thought-provoking comments to Caleb about RKC:
you are part of a system that will one day destroy our city and our planet
Your system kills, too. You’ve not eliminated sacrifices, you’ve democratized them—everyone dies a little every day, and the poor and desperate are the worst injured.
In Three Parts Dead, we saw a compromise between religious and secular perspectives. Part of the debate manifested in the relationship between Tara and Abelard. Will we see something similar in this plot and in Caleb’s relationship with his father? The plight of the zombies does seem rather dire, if people choose to be undead workers to pay off their debts. Choosing to be a willing sacrifice to a god doesn’t seem much better; is there a middle ground?
3) The Red King. Discuss.
First and foremost: HOW DOES A SKELETON DRINK COFFEE? Caleb specifically states that Kopil doesn’t have an oesophagus. I’m not even sure if he has dried-out flesh draped over his bones, like a mummy, to contain anything he eats or drinks. I’m reminded of that scene in Pirates of the Caribbean, when Captain Barbosa first reveals his undead skeleton form, and drinks some wine that just splashes out between his ribs.
Why would Kopil even need coffee? Surely, at this stage in his “life” he has better pick-me-ups?
I kind of like Kopil though. He’s a bit scary and possibly evil, but he feels real somehow. I sympathise with the heavy burden he’s clearly bearing – replacing the gods he defeated. He seems lonely too. He lost his lover, and in the process of avenging him he became a creature that’s basically doomed to be alone.
And, he’s funny, in a dry sort of way:
This room isn’t large, but the whole building belongs to me, so I don’t feel cramped.
“This room doesn’t have any doors.”
“Who needs them?”
Kopil shrugged, and sipped tequila.
By the way, do people drink tequila neat, on the rocks? I thought you drank it in shots with lemon and salt to get hammered. It doesn’t seem like a drink so refined as to be sipped. Or is this just Deathless King sort of habit?
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?
I’m suspicious. Very suspicious. She’s very secretive and I don’t think she’s on the same side Caleb is fighting for even if she just helped restore the supply of clean drinking water to the city.
Which is not to say that I think badly of her. Given the issues that have been raised about zombies and environmental damage, it’s quite possible that Caleb is fighting for the “wrong side” and we will come to sympathise with Mal’s point of view. She could be the villain who becomes our hero.
On a related note, I’m not feeling the chemistry between these two at all. I understand the mutual attraction, but that’s about it. I didn’t feel excited seeing them finally get a bit closer. Perhaps this is intentional though, with the point being that Caleb is a fool who fell for a pretty face.
– Loved Sam’s snake art as a metaphor for the city.
– How fucking big are those magisterium trees if several of the Couatl – the larger, battle-bred Couatl – can sit on one stump? Would love to see one of those.
– That Heartstone contract! If I was a lawyer I would cry. And negotiate a suitably monstrous raise.
The thing is seventy thousand pages long. They folded space to fit it in one conference room for the signing. It’s not even all on paper: some paragraphs are carved on stone plinths, some on the pyramid itself. Nothing that complex is safe.
Like you, I am full of suspicions when it comes to Mal. I think she went to Seven Leaf with a hidden agenda. I think Allesandre was a pawn, and perhaps meant to die, but at least was meant to be captured and the crimes pinned to her. I thought the escalation in pacing was due to Mal’s hidden agenda.
I live in a desert and I totally get Temoc’s arguments. However, would I give up my democratized irrigation rights for human sacrifice? Well, if they were knowing, fully vetted volunteers who had gone through counseling, etc., then perhaps.
I’m kind of glad that the Red King still has pick me ups like coffee and tequila. Otherwise, would he be sipping on souls as he walks through the filing section of RKC?
I too am enjoying his sense of humor. and, yes, if you get a hold of quality tequila, you can sip and enjoy. If you get the cheap stuff, it is best hammered a shot at a time.
I would like to see a magesterium tree as well. They reminded me of my visit to the Petrified wood park on my honeymoon. Big ass tree stumps, captured in stone.
I’m not sure what my stance is on the whole human sacrifice thing… I feel that people should be allowed to end their lives if they see fit to do so. Furthermore, the gods definitely existed and there was a real, important reason for human sacrifice; it’s not just some manmade belief system running on faith. On the other hand, what happens if there aren’t enough willing sacrifices? And what happens to the families left behind? Something to contemplate for the next discussion perhaps.
Lol yeah, I wouldn’t question the logic of the Red King’s drinking habits if it meant he weren’t sipping on my soul!
Haha – yes, how does a skeleton drink coffee?? Puzzling that. Maybe that’s why he drinks Tequila – certainly not a drink I’d sip at tbh – maybe he has no taste buds either.
I feel like I’m almost on the fence with everyone at the moment. I actually don’t mind Temoc and feel that he’s not really had his say yet – we’re really only hearing one side of the argument and history is written by the winners so it will be interesting to get his take on things.
I don’t trust Mal – I don’t dislike her at all, but I just don’t trust her. The Seven Leaf battle felt staged and like Susan mentioned about the comment she made during the confrontation – very suspicious. I wasn’t into that scene really – it did feel like they were going off on a simple quest and then next they were talking about possible death – and it was over really quite quickly. It felt more of a way to reveal certain things or maybe even sidetrack us all into the wrong placing of blame.
The Red King does intrigue me. He’s a bit creepy – but I don’t feel myself strongly disliking him at this point which is interesting. Strangely, and in spite of not feeling any dislike, my biggest mistrust at the moment definitely seems to centre on Mal.
It’s going to be interesting to see how it all gets resolved.
I don’t feel very strongly about anyone either… Not necessarily in a bad way, since melodrama can detract from a story, but I don’t think we have cause to really hate anyone or pick a side without some reservations. I think Mal invites the most distrust because she’s the most mysterious. We know, more or less, where everyone else stands, but she’s obviously keeping some big secrets. Also, as the woman Caleb has (literally) fallen for, we’re inclined to think well of her, but we know something’s up and that paradox is a bit unsettling, I think.