Read-along: The Poison Song by Jen Williams (week 1)

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

Hurrah, Hurray! It’s here! The read-along for the final volume of Jen Williams’ Winnowing Flame trilogy, and oh my goodness, I’m excited! I’m hoping for answers and maybe a happy ending or two, but this is Williams we’re talking about, so who knows what we’re going to get! Let’s do this thing!

This first week’s questions were posed by the most excellent imyril of There’s Always Room for One More, and, as in previous read-along posts, please beware of SPOILERS from here on out.


Week 1 – Beginning to end of Chapter 9


Enter Agent Chenlo. What are your first impressions of the Yuron-kai Winnowry agent and her interactions with Noon and Vintage?

Ooooo, I really like Agent Chenlo. And I’m really hoping she’s not going to turn out to be a Bad Guy. I miss Vintage’s journal excerpts and letters at the beginning of each chapter, but I find Chenlo’s private record snippets an interesting swap-out. The details of the girls’ lives that she is saving (for them?) are heartbreaking. And I think Chenlo and Vintage might become friends; they’re both record-keepers, after all. But Chenlo and Noon? Not so much.

I am glad we’ve kind of circled back to the Winnowry too. After learning so much about them in the first book, I was disconcerted that there wasn’t really anything more about the fell-witches in The Bitter Twins (give or take the odd reference and the whole Tyranny Munk affair), they feel like such a potentially important weapon. (Another reason to like Chenlo: she calls the witches’ fire an ability not an abomination. It’s the little things).


So Bern’s gambit succeeded and the Jure’lia have retreated in disarray. Hest is not happy to find herself on what feels like the losing side. Has she miscalculated? What do you make of her response?

Wow. I want to resign myself to the fact that I’m never going to understand Hest, but I just … can’t. Is it all about some deep-seated need to feel superior no matter what? She seems so impatient with the queen for being side-tracked by Bern’s gambit. And now she’s making her own creatures, like, ‘if you want something doing, do it yourself’ kind of thing. She can’t honestly believe that if the Jure’lia achieve their goal she will be able to survive – they want to cover the whole planet in a shiny green glaze so their eggs can hatch for goodness’ sake (which sounds weird when I type it out). She keeps mentioning not wanting to be alone, and yet she is the most alone character in the entire book.


Tyranny Munk, Queen of Tigrish, companion to warbeasts. What do you think will happen when Vintage and Chenlo make it to Jarlsbad?

Is Tyranny Munk going to become the Bad Guy I though Agent Lin was going to be? All I know is Williams’ keep surprising me, so based on that I’m going to guess that Vintage and Chenlo will get to Jarlsbad, everything will be forgiven and they’ll become super-awesome-friends with Tyranny who will join them on a crusade against the Jure’lia.

Ok, ok, I have no idea what’s going to happen. I hope there’ll be a good dose of verbal sparring between Tyranny and Vintage, just for fun. I wonder if Vintage will be able to get Okaar on side and use him to convince Tyranny to join the good fight.

More importantly than any of that though, I really really want to see Tyranny’s warbeast – what creature did she get??


Oh dear stars above, Tor is sick. We’ve reached the final act, my darlings. Time to cast your auguries: who will survive The Poison Song?

Aww crap. I don’t want Tor to die. Not like that, with the lingering and the coughing and the sores. If he’s got to die, I hope he gets to go out in a blaze of glory. (OMG, what will happen to Kirune?).

Hmmm, who will die? I am very afraid for Bern right now (if I’m honest, I’m way more worried for him than for Tor – he and Aldasair only just found each other, that’s got to mean something, right?!) and I want to believe that a solution to the evil-crystal-imbedded-in-his-hand problem will be found, but I can’t imagine what shape such a solution would take, and I don’t think hacking off his hand will be the answer.

I don’t see how Hestillion can live to the end of it all, so I’ll predict her death.

And I think it’d be a kindness if Celaphon died.

But out of the Good Guys? I really can’t. If any one of them dies I’m going to think it’s the Worst Thing. Noon? Love her too much and she’s come so far. Tor? Sure he’s selfish, vain and intolerable, but love him too much and he’s come so far. Vintage? If she dies I’ll burn the books and never speak the name Jen Williams again. Aldasair? You know my feelings surely about this beautiful, fragile Eboran. Bern? Same. Any of the warbeasts? See previous comment about burning the books etc.


And of course anything else you would like to talk about!

Why have we changed from Vintage to Chenlo at the beginnings of the chapters? Is this significant? (secret hope: will Vintage and Chenlo fall in love? I don’t want Vintage to be lonely …)

Will Tyranny’s warbeast feel the call of her brothers and sisters when they get closer? Is it just because she’s so far away that they haven’t sensed her? I feel like they should all just know about each other, but then the magic is broken, I guess.

And in all seriousness, is it too much to ask that we get miracle cures for both Bern and Tor? What about if I say please? Pretty please? With sprinkles and a cherry on top?



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

Week 2 – Chapters 10 to 19 inclusive


  1. …my little shipping heart definitely registered a click on the radar when Vintage finagled Chenlo into going journeying with her. I hadn’t really considered them both as record-keepers but you are right on the money there – plus they have such strong personalities and empathy, I can see them at least becoming great friends, but… I’d be here for more for sure 🙂

    And oh gosh yes your comment about Hest being the most alone person in the world. She absolutely brings it on herself of course, but it still gives me a twinge of empathy for her.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I kind of surprised myself by feeling a little sorry for her (I think it’s been building) – you’re right that she brings it all on herself, but what a sad figure it makes her … under all the maniacal plotting and icky creating of her own mini army.


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