Read-along: The Bitter Twins by Jen Williams (week 1)

Banner by imyril from There’s Always Room for One More

Yeah, I’m late again! It’s week 2 and I’m only just posting my thoughts from week 1 (I blame weekend working). Am planning to charge through the next section on Monday in the hopes of catching up, and because OMG Williams really knows how to write a story!!

Week 1 questions were posed by the most awesome imyril of There’s Always Room for One More, and, as before, watch out for SPOILERS!

Ready? Here we go …


Week 1 – Beginning to end of Chapter 12

You shall have a war beast and you shall have a war beast and you shall have a war beast! What do you make of the fruits of the Ninth Rain?

Well I know some characters are making disappointed noises about how few and how small the war-beasts are, but I am frigging loving them! These crazy-ass mythical beasts being born again after centuries is just the coolest thing … can you imagine how incredible it would be if you suddenly got to witness a real life dragon??? Vintage is the perfect person to appreciate it all and she says it best on page 93 when she first sees Sharrik. Her awe when she meets Vostok a few pages later nearly made me cry.

I like the pairings between beasts and people and the different dynamics that are forming. I am fascinated to see how these relationships will develop (having no memories to fall back on, are the beasts’ personalities a product of the people they have paired with?). And I also feel desperately sad for the war-beasts, Kirune in particular who seems to feel their lack of memories the most keenly, like they are not whole somehow.

Did anyone else get flashbacks to Anne McCaffrey’s dragon hatchings when Eri helped Helcate to hatch?


… and what’s your take on Vostok’s damning assessment of our heroes after the inglorious battle of Coldreef?

She’s right. They need to be able to fight as a unit, but have none of the memories to help them do so. Their characters are all so different and they have been thrust together so quickly that they can’t help but fail right now. I’m kind of hoping they’ll turn it around, and that what appears to be weakness at the moment will become an unlooked for strength, but Williams is proving to be a tricksy author yet to write anything I expect, so I’m not banking on it!


“I feel I can barely describe here what it is like to see these monsters of our history risen…” How would you cope? What would you do?

Oh my goodness, I don’t think I would cope. I think I’d try to run and hide and get eaten by bugs in pretty short order. That’s why it’s such an enjoyable torture to read these things, no? These characters do what you want to believe your best self would do: they band together and find a way; they face their fears, they become stronger, they keep going. Sometimes you shout and scream at them to get out of there (looking at you Vin) and to run away, and they don’t, but still they survive.


We learn a lot more about the Jure’lia this week – both as invading enemies and from their own peculiar perspective. What do you think about the worm people and their Queen now you’ve seen them in action? What do you think of Hest’s situation and how she is dealing with it?

The Jure’lia just keep getting more and more interesting. That they are experimenting and trying to learn from Hestilion makes me very nervous, but I also want to see how it will change them. They have no concept of living in peace alongside other species and the Queen has talked about having to make Sarn a place in which their eggs can thrive and hatch, which makes me think that compromise is never going to be an option. And yet … is it wrong to say that I don’t think they’re evil? Just … alien. What they need to live and what the people of Sarn need to live are just mutually exclusive.

As for Hestilion … if anyone can deal with being aboard the corpse moon it’s her, but she is still a mystery to me. Sometimes I feel sympathy for her, at other times I am very troubled by her actions. I think she’s completely out of her tree. And now she has her own war-beast (albeit a chibi version) – even more worried!


We see more Eborans too – from the horrors they inflicted during the Carrion Wars to the devastating impact of the Crimson Flux. How sympathetic are you to Ebora and its people (dead and alive)? What are your first impressions of our new Eboran characters?

We’re well and truly into shades of grey with the Eborans, me thinks. Yes, they slaughtered thousands and drank their blood in the belief that it would keep them from death. Yes, they have been decimated in turn by the Crimson Flux. It’s hard to think of a whole people and judge them fairly. So I can only speak case by case. Aldasair has most of my sympathy, he seems such a gentle soul, as does his war-beast Jessen, and both seem ashamed of themselves because of it. (Side note: are we going to see an Aldasair-Bern romance? *so hopeful*). And I can’t help but feel the same for our new Eboran friend Eri of Lonefell whose life up to now appears to have been incredibly lonely. I’m still trying to get a sense of Nanthema, but her visit to her old home with Vintage obviously inclines me towards sympathy. I’d like to know where she stands on the whole drinking-the-blood-of-humans issue, I don’t think I’ve heard an opinion on that from her yet. Then again, I don’t hold the blood thing against Tormalin … Hmmm, grey, grey, grey.


So, straight on to the next section! I am agog to find out what will happen next!!



The next post for this read-along can be found here:

Week 2 – Chapters 13 to 22 inclusive



  1. “What they need to live and what the people of Sarn need to live are just mutually exclusive”

    …this is so on point. There’s no apparent _animosity_ in the Jure’lia Queen, it’s just that Sarn is food and this food doesn’t want to be eaten and that’s inconvenient (but I get the sense she believes it’s inevitable). But I think you’re right: it means no compromises or middle ground…

    WAR BEASTS. My heart bounces, they may be flawed and sometimes immature or selfish (Kirune, Sharrik, looking at both of you), but they are GLORIOUS – and at the same time, oh gosh feelings with Kirune at the Nest. He so desperately _wants_ to remember and know who he was. But I adore how they mirror their riders and Jessen is just the sweetest.

    Welcome aboard the good ship Aldabern! There’s plenty of space, we mostly hang out along the rails in hope of glimpsing kissing and happy ever afters on the horizon (…although that seems like a big ask in the circumstances. But some happy along the way would be nice) ❤

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    • I don’t know how it’s happened, but Kirune has my complete sympathy, even when he’s being a twit. And yes, yes, yes!! The war-beasts are glorious, fabulous, wondrous creatures! I think I like them even more for being a little bit … less … than they should be.
      Oh, hurrah! I’m glad I’m not the only one imagining an Aldasair Bern hook up!(Aldabern made me snort out loud!!) Just give them a little bit of happy Williams, pleeeaaassseee? ❤ ❤ ❤

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      • There is a Moment with Kirune that just broke my heart. He can be a pain in the ass, but he’s such a soft-hearted self conscious kitty underneath all the gruff exterior.

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  2. Ooh, what a cool coincidence! I started eyeing this book on Ebay a few months back seeing its intriguing cover, and I almost bought it. I ultimately didn’t thinking it was just another “meh” unknown, but it looks like there’s a lot to unearth here? I may just have to put this on my TBR now! Glad you’re enjoying this! 😀

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