Read-along: The Wandering Fire by Guy Gavriel Kay (week 2)

This read-along is brought to us by the wonderful imyril of There’s Always Room for One More and is a sneaky continuation of Wyrd and Wonder. This week, the most awesome Ariana from the Book Nook is posing the questions to guide our thoughts.

And we’re in the thick of it now, if we weren’t before. MASSIVE SPOILERS beyond this point.

 

Week 2: Chapters 7 through 11

After spending most of our time in Fionavar, either in or around Brennin and with the Dalrei, we are finally getting a closer look at Cathal and its King, and revisiting the intriguing Sharra. Thoughts on this culture and how it fits within Fionavar?

Ha ha! I liked that Shalhassan, Supreme Lord of Cathal thought he’d impress Aileron and instead found himself impressed. And that Aileron and Diarmuid win him over. While I find Sharra interesting, I find her father less so, however, and have no particularly clear image of Cathal’s culture as particularly distinct from that of Brennin. I guess ‘Garden Country’ suggests they get nicer weather?

So I’m using this question to talk a bit more about Sharra instead. I like that she continues to defy her father and do as she pleases (even if this is really just Kay manoeuvring her into Diarmuid’s path), and that she quite happily uses the same trick again of dressing up to sneak into her father’s honour guard. And I can see why she’d be a good fit for Diarmuid, even if I still think he’s a sh*t. At least she doesn’t make everything too easy for him.

If this were published now I’d have more complaints about Sharra, but for the time in which she was written and for the younger me who might have stumbled across these books before now, she’s pretty cool.

 

Everyone has now met King Arthur! What do you make of this legend out of time now that he’s had a bit more page-time and of the revelation about Jennifer?

I love Arthur. But then I’ve always loved Arthur. I have way more issues with Jennifer being a reincarnation of Guinevere.

The Guinevere/Lancelot thing has always annoyed me beyond endurance. I know it’s a key part of the story of King Arthur and that it’s a strong personal bias that directs my feelings about it, (sleep with whoever you want, but make sure one relationship is over before pursuing another. And no, I will not be taking questions at this time), but … urgh!

However …

… I’m going to trust Kay not to trot out that well-worn tale. For one, Jennifer has been soul-searingly changed by her experience at Starkadh, to the point where she cannot even allow herself the comfort of loving Arthur despite her sudden memory retrieval. For two, I don’t feel it would fit with what Kay’s doing. He keeps bringing in different echoes of myths and legends (a lot of stuff that I feel I half-remember), but never completely. My overriding impression of Fionavar as a reading experience so far is of a soup with lots of flavours, mostly complimentary, that I half-recognise but can’t always place. All I know for sure if that it’s good soup.

I do have questions about what Jennifer has done to offend Kay, or the Weaver, so much that she must be punished again. Guinevere’s story is hardly a happy one.

And I’m already cringing over who Lancelot might be, and when he might make his appearance. It feels inevitable, even if Kay does something different with him when he arrives. (It was funny that Kim was worried it might by Diarmuid).

 

First the fleeting lios alfar, and now glimpses of the Paraiko; we have talked about myths and legends, but what do you think of the mythical creatures of Fionavar?

At first, I wondered if Ruana and co were lios alfar, or another type of alfar, what with their singing, although that didn’t quite seem to fit. Now we know they are the Paraiko, Giants from far, far back in time, and I am all eyes and ears for more. Especially because my immediate thoughts when presented with the word ‘giant’ are fee-fi-fo-fum, tree-sized clubs  and Molly Whuppie. Whereas here, the Paraiko appear to be peaceable (they’re not fighting their attackers in any way – why? Has their power (able to put the Sleepers under stone, in a previous age) dwindled in some way?). All they’re doing is singing death rite songs for those being burnt and eaten outside their cave and remaining hidden in the dark. I’m curious, too, about the remark that “He wasn’t even sure how many of them were left in the cave …no one had kept a count for many years”. What has happened to them? Will we get to see more of them? Why does Rakoth Maugrim want them destroyed?

So I guess, to answer the question, I think the mythical creatures of Fionavar are very interesting.

 

‘And far, far above all this, outside of time, the shuttle of the Worldloom slowed and then was still, and the Weaver, too, watched to see what would come back into the Tapestry.’

Thoughts on Fate and the place of the Weaver in all this?

This. This is the thing I’m struggling with.

I’m … not at ease … with the idea of the Weaver. Is he a god, then? Or something more? Less? He weaves the Tapestry, but seems to take no action to affect the pattern and watches with as much interest as anyone else to see what will happen. And yet, Arthur’s return to the Tapestry again and again is the Weaver’s doing, part of Arthur’s punishment, his doom. To punish someone, there has to be a feeling of what is right and wrong, and I don’t think you can have that without emotion. And emotion leads to preferences, makes impartiality difficult. Which would make the Weaver a very different kind of god. More like the gods of Fionavar.

And now, there’s Jennifer. Arthur is Arthur, he’s not someone else who’s just discovered he is also King Arthur. But Jennifer is both herself and now Guinevere as well. I’ve really got a problem with that. Kim holds her own memories and Ysanne’s because of Ysanne’s sacrifice, but Jennifer has suddenly inherited another person’s memories. No, no, no. How? How can she be Jennifer and Guinevere? And why? Seriously, how much has this woman got to go through, Kay?

Grrrr …

(I should mention here that while I am deeply frustrated by this one aspect of the story, when I think about it, I am not, because if this frustration, not enjoying the story. Which doesn’t make sense, particularly, when I’ve dropped books for less, but there you go).

 

We need to talk about Kevin. What do you make of his role in this story, and the way all five of the friends seem to be playing out a role?

Ummm, stupid question: should I remember who Liadon is? Was he mentioned previously? Or is this new information for all of us?

Also, wow. This was intense. I guess Kevin had a role to play after all. So now everyone is slotted in, one way or another.

Is it wrong that I can’t quite bring myself to grieve for him? Instead, my heart breaks for his Abba, who may never know what happened to his son.

  

What did you make of Maidaladan and all that came with it?

Yeeaahh, alright, fertility rites, the Goddess, yaddah-yaddah. Not my favourite bit of the story so far.

Sorry. I’ve got nothing else.

 

Any other musings?

Cavall is such a good dog. Don’t let the good dog die. Please?

 

11 comments

  1. I still haven’t finished my post as I am dog sitting a very good very needy boi and am thoroughly distracted but no you’re not meant to know who Liadon is – which is my only issue with this turn of events; it feels like it comes out of the blue. It fits with what we’ve seen of Dana previously and it’s a mythical borrowing from another pantheon (we’re in Greek myth here) but it’s just WHAM wait whut how did we get here?!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I was also wondering if I was supposed to know who Liadon is?? So glad it’s not just me. I mean it could eventually be extrapolated, but I feel like the impact would have been even stronger if we’d had the story before hand…

    Also – do you think there will be a Lancelot despite Jennifer’s insistence there is no third? I can’t decide what to trust! Ahh!

    Liked by 2 people

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