Read-along: The Poison Song by Jen Williams (week 4)

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

We’re moving inexorably towards the grand finale and this week the tension has ratcheted all the way up to eleven. Coherence is going to be difficult, even with this week’s prompts from the incredible imyril of There’s Always Room for One More to help me along. I shouldn’t have to say it anymore, but there will be massive, painful, heart-breaking SPOILERS from the start …


Week 4 – Chapters 31 to 42 inclusive

Take a seat. Make yourself comfortable. Now, in your own time – how are you feeling after this week’s developments?

… um …

I can do this. Come on …

How do I feel? I feel exhausted. And bewildered. And heart-sore. And bruised.

What the Jure’lia queen did to Bern was unspeakably torturous to read and I am shaky with relief that it looks like he may be OK (for a given value of OK), but the damage she has done is still raw and new and will he ever truly be OK?

What Celaphon did to (for?) Bern was equally traumatic (and omg, he ate it!!! *shudder*) and, frankly, it’s a wonder he’s still alive at all after the combination of crap he’s been through.

And Celaphon. Yeah, we’ll get to that in a minute.

Noon’s return had me both in tears and punching the air – it was the “nose to nose” that did me in, I don’t know why.

Vintage’s remembering Noon when they first met had me thinking about how much has happened in the space of these three books and just how much crap all of these characters have already weathered and (perhaps because it’s late and it’s been a long day), I’ve gotten a bit maudlin about it all and don’t want it to end. What’s going to happen when it’s all over? However it finishes their world is going to look so different …


The fruit may fall far from the tree, but all war beasts share a connection. What are your thoughts about Celaphon as we head into the final act?

Oh, Celaphon. Way back when we were reading The Bitter Twins I felt so sorry for you, runt that you were, paired with Hestilion and so far from your brothers and sisters. And this week that all came flooding back. How can you help being as you are when you’ve been warped and poisoned by the Jure’lia and by Hestilion? And yet inside that thick hide still there is that beautiful little creature, constantly in pain, craving connection and family. When he described the link between Bern and the others as a bright gold thread I got all choked up (again); Celaphon’s world is mostly defined by the purple and oily green-black of the Jure’lia – that he can still perceive that glittering gold thread is at once hopeful and soul-destroying.

And what he does for Bern, while gross and savage, is still a good action, I think. It seems telling that he saw how degrading it was for Bern the Weapon to be made Bern the Tool by the queen. I wonder if he will realise that this is what has been done to him too? Or does he know already?

Finally, when Celaphon asked Hestilion why they never went to the lake for fish or far, far away to be alone like she said they would, again I blubbed like a very blubby thing (seriously man, my hankie is a mess!). It was just so … plaintive. Like a child asking why promises have to be broken and things have to end. While I can’t see a happy ending for Celaphon, I am hoping beyond hope that he gets to feel some love from his brothers and sisters before he finds peace.


Did Tyranny and Windfall get what they deserved? How do you think our heroes will fare against Hest’s latest tactics?

Um, no. No one deserves to have their insides eaten by Jure’lia bugs, I don’t care what they’ve done. This was actually the most disappointing bit for me. I kind of felt that Tyranny and Windfall would somehow make it through to the final round as neither seem the type to just lie down and die. And while there’s an infinitesimally-slim chance that Tyranny survived Hest’s attack, I think that that bug burrowing into Windfall’s eye was a pretty conclusive fate for the other queen of Tygrish.


…any last thoughts before we plunge into the final week?

Three more downer thoughts:

You couldn’t understand love, despite having a clutch of eggs that you will do anything for, but revenge you get??! Well, of course you do! *splutter*

Erm … what’s happening to Ygseril? What does this mean? And why now? Not cool, man, not cool.

The queen’s new mask is frigging creepy!! Bad Things are coming!!


And two slightly more positive thoughts to end on:

Sharrik cracks me up. He talks like a classic black-and-white movie hero: “Villain, it is time for you to pay for your outrageous strike against us!” Take that you bounder!

And … *chanting in a small voice* Chenlo loves Vintage. Chenlo loves Vintage. Chenlo loves Vintage.



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

Week 5 – Chapters 43 to the end


  1. I think I’ll be coming back to these posts and reading them properly when I actually read Williams’ books 🙂 Right now I stopped at the words ‘massive spoilers’ and ‘heartbreak’ 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “how degrading it was for Bern the Weapon to be made Bern the Tool by the queen. I wonder if he will realise that this is what has been done to him too? Or does he know already”


    I’ve got the kettle on. The end of this journey is going to require group hugs and tea all round.

    Liked by 1 person

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