This week we finish the final chapters of our readalong of Shadow of the Sun. If you haven’t yet picked up the book, well, it might be a tad late to join in this readalong but it’s never to late to get involved in the story. So, without further ado let’s dive right in with the Q&A and, of course, beware of spoilers.
1) These final chapters show us much more of Iminor’s character and his growing Talent. What stuck out the most for you about how he handled the various exploding aspects of his life?
I liked the change in Iminor – it felt like he’s finally coming into his own. He’s no longer sitting on Letitia’s coattails. He’s a warrior now who can hold his own and suddenly seems to have developed a certain level of confidence. I think as well that he’s finally realised what Ellion and Letitia are up to, but, rather than cause a stink he’s handling it. I liked the way he behaved in these last few chapters.
2) While Rohini is a late addition to the party, she is an interesting one. What aspect of her character or objectives would you like to see more of in forthcoming book(s)?
I like Rohini. She doesn’t take nonsense from anyone and just gets stuck in. She was so naffed off with Ellion when she realised he could reverse the badness from the Basghilae? and could have saved her fellow warrior – although, she didn’t really stop for a parley there did she – talk about off with his head!! But, yes, I would like to see more of her – she’s got attitude.
3) Amien has been managing and maneuvering Ellion quite a bit in this last section. What do you think his motivations are?
I think his motivations are now out there. He sees the potential in Ellion and wants him to stop with his vow. I suppose he’s been quietly manipulating the situation – even right at the end engineering a meeting with Ellion and Letitia. He basically wants Ellion to start with the magic again.
4) Letitia continued to learn more about her abilities, but everyone agrees she still lacks the ability to go toe to toe with Nechton. What more would you empower her with?
She needs a massive confidence boost. I think part of the way she has acted with Ellion is because it made her feel good at a time when she was feeling really low. I don’t think it would do any harm either if people started to communicate a little better!
5) Throughout this entire book, the deities have played an important, if a backseat driver, role. As a reader, how as this worked for you in the world-building/plot department?
I suppose it’s the focus really for what’s going on in more ways than one. After all, Ellion thinks he’s out of favour with the Gods and that’s what’s driven him into his current situation and also I think this whole thing with Nechton is based on a pact with some of the darker deities maybe.
6) We had yet one more assassination attempt in the hot water baths of Sucello. Now that we are at the end of the book, what are your insights into who is behind these attempts?
Well, as we all know by now I’m pretty useless at this second guessing thing. I begin to wonder now whether it’s all the same enemy. I mean it does seem as though this assassin is unable to die which is fairly similar to the Bagshilae after all. Perhaps Nechton wants Ellion out of the way because he realises that he’s a bigger threat – or perhaps it’s more that together Letitia and Ellion could pose a bigger threat?
7) Bealtan reveals much about our narrative hero, Ellion. From his reuniting with Conar, to the revelation of Amien’s intentions, to his argument with Letitia, and his own internal recriminations about himself. Here at the end, what are your lasting impressions of Ellion?
MMm, well, I’ve been a little bit outspoken about Ellion. He’s a mixed bag for me personally. I certainly wouldn’t mind having him around in a fix and I admit that he’s not shy of getting involving in the thick of things. However, at times I’ve found him exasperating and have wanted him to just, well, grow up a bit. Basically, he’s not a bad character, just conflicted, and that’s what makes him a bit frustrating. Won’t use his natural ability and then beats himself up if someone dies. Doesn’t think he’s worthy of Letitia but then when she basically says he could be her consort feels insulted! Come on mate – make up your mind. Anyway, he seems to have eventually reached a decision about his course of action so it will be interesting to see how he changes as a result. I think all the denial he has inflicted on himself has not been helpful to him personally soI look forward to seeing how this affects his character.
Finally, a massive thanks to Susan for hosting this and coming up with all the talking points and also a massive thanks to Barbara for becoming personally involved and for sharing her comments with us, not to mention putting up with a lot of b/s from me as I yammer on!
And so we reach the end of our readalong of Terry Pratchett’s A Hatful of Sky. This has been a great book for a readalong as it’s such good fun. If you didn’t join in with the readalong then I would still recommend you read this series. The Little Red Reviewer and Dab of Darkness have acted as hosts for this. Questions and answer to follow but read no further if you don’t wish to encounter spoilers and if you do – don’t say I didn’t tell you so!:
1) Mistress Weatherwax has a philosophy of her job is to make sure everyone today can get to tomorrow – such as letting people believe in water sprites and goblins if it lets them lead a better life. Do you see yourself somewhere in this philosophy?
I suppose this is similar to ‘live and let live’ which I would say I do believe in also. Absolutely let people believe in water sprites if they want – anyway, they’re real aren’t they????
2) Do you think Mr. Weavall will be successful with the Widow Tussy? Do you think Tiffany got off light concerning Mr. Weavall’s stash?
I think Mr Weavall and the Widow will be very happy and probably rack up another 100 years between them with this new lease of life! I’m not sure about Tiffany getting off lightly really – at the end of the day the Hiver was controlling her – but, she does also realise that the Hiver is just fulfilling your own wishes – so really she did covet the money?? Anyway, she did feel really bad about her actions during the possession and I loved the fact that the Feegles helped her out with this – after all they weren’t using the money, other than for serving plates and they obviously didn’t want her to feel bad for stealing from Mr Weavall.
3) What was your favorite part of Mistress Weatherwax’s and Tiffany’s bonding time in the mountains with the little picnic and the owls and such?
I loved the way that Mistress Weatherwax was always being grumpy but then kind of looking askance at Tiffany to see how she was really reacting. She tries to act like a real meanie but actually she’s not really. I enjoyed the part where she was trying to sleep and attract the owl and Tiffany woke her up and scared away the owl.
4) Petulia Gristle heard Tiffany was going to face something nasty and went out to see if she could use some help. Have you ever had an awkward situation like that?
I thought that was really good of Petulia. I knew she was a good character and I thought it was great when she finally plucked up enough courage to tell Annagramma off! I don’t know if I’ve had an awkward situation like that – don’t get me wrong I end up in plenty of situations, usually embarrassing and probably more than my full share, but not really like this one.
5) Tiffany has her first and last conversation with the Hiver/Arthur. Did you see Tiffany’s answer to the Hiver dilemma coming or were you taken by surprise?
I was taken by surprise. I never figured out the conclusion at all and I couldn’t piece together what all her talk about wishes was about. I thought the conclusion was more satisfactory than with the Fairy Queen. And, I liked that she helped Arthur instead of simply trying to destroy him.
6) The Witch Trials are almost like a county fair, a happy outing for the entire family, or so Granny Weatherwax was grumbling about. What about the affair caught your attention?
You wouldn’t think a bunch of witches at a trial would be a family occasion would you – you could be turned into a toad just for a bit of sport! I suppose the Mexican standoff with Tiffany and GW was the most stand out part of the trials for me. You could sort of cut the tension surrounding them as they shared that moment – I really liked that part and thought it was very wise of Tiffany to act as she did.
7) In the final chapter, we learn the meaning of the title of the book. Did you feel this was a good wrap up to the novel?
It was a very satisfying ending. I liked the fact that she returned to the chalk to help with the lambing and then created her own hat. I thought it was interesting to see her changed feelings for Roland and also that he seems to be growing up and basically as with the last book I felt it was quite touching – the way everything returns to Granny Aching and the fact that Tiffany now seems to be taking her place in everyone’s eyes.
Thank you ladies for hosting both these readalongs and taking the time out to come up with all the questions. It’s been very enjoyable and I’m looking forward to spending time with Tiffany again later in the year.
Hi everyone. Today is the first week in the A Hat Full of Sky readalong being hosted by Little Red Reviewer and Dab of Darkness. These books are such good fun – if you haven’t read them but fancy a really refreshing blast of humour then get onboard – it’s not too late, this is a lovely leisurely schedule so there’s lots of time to catch up! Plus, once you start reading about Tiffany you’ll get swept along (not to mention the Nac MacFeegle). If you haven’t read these books already however you might wish to stop reading from hereon-in as spoilers will be running amok like little blue men! You have been warned.
What do you think of Miss Level and her housemate Oswald? Did you guess the secret about her identity before she told Tiffany the truth?
Wow, the world of Miss Level is totally out there! I think Tiffany is in for a very strange time. And, no, I confess, I hadn’t guessed about her identity. At first, I hadn’t realised that there was a third character in the mix – I had this weird idea that Miss Level had run amok with the whole ‘see me’ thing and had created a sort of other version of herself that was running around but, not only does she have ‘another’ self (which actually is a little bit creepy if you really think about it) but she has Oswald, an ondageist, who runs around tidying up! It sounds divine – where can I get me one of those?? Although not sure I like the idea of Oswald just being able to go wherever he wants when he wants!
What kind of witchy stuff do you think Miss Level will start teaching Tiffany?
It’s a strange form of teaching really isn’t it. A bit like teaching but without being taught. The witches don’t seem to know how they do things but it just seems to be something they have a feel for. It feels like it’s going to be less about teaching, in a traditional sense, and more a sort of coming to the idea of what’s right and what’s not, with a sprinking of herbal lore thrown into the mix.
What do you think of Jeannie? Do you think she’ll get in the way of the Feegle continuing to help Tiffany?
Not quite sure to make of Jeannie yet. She seems a bit bungling (a bit in the way that Roland felt in the first novel). She doesn’t particularly feel malicious at this stage but I do wonder about her with all her beads and baubles and dancing in the woods! A bit like the kind of thing that seemed to have given witches a bad name in the first place when they were thought to be devil worshippers? I must admit I don’t like the idea very much of Tiffany in the woods at night with that weird demon thing searching for her!
Have your feelings for Roland changed any?
Okay, I admit that I was a bit of a meanie on Roland and I’m now feeling slightly sheepish! I just was a bit flabbergasted with his ‘lord to the manor’ behaviour. He seems to have developed a bit of a crush on Tiffany doesn’t he and turned into a blushing maniac now whenever she’s around – it will be interesting to see how that develops.
Which is creepier? a Hiver or a Drome?
A Hiver definitely – it’s a demon after all and just looking for a host to possess! The whole thing with sounding like a bunch of buzzing insects – just creepy.
What really grabbed my attention this time?
The way Tiffany won the battle of the wills with the goat!
“I am no’ deid! I’m trying to have a moment o’ existential dreed here, right?”
The part where the horse and cart, with the Mac Nag Feegles on board, is going faster than the coach and horses that they’re trying to catch in order to get their more speedily. Irony at all?
Good fun. Don’t forget it’s not too late to join in!
AMENDMENT to the question about Jeannie above. Okay, I admit it! I’m a raging doghead! So, now you all know. I answered that question as though I was talking about Petunia (is it Petunia?). Anyway, what can you do. (Perhaps answer the proper question – okay, Jeannie – I didn’t like that she stopped the guys in blue from sending out a bit of a rescue party when they spotted the Hiver was on Tiffany’s tail! But, she has a lot to contend with and I think she’s feeling insecure. She did the right thing as soon as she realised Rob would stay with her if she asked. So I think she’ll be okay.
The Wee Free Men is my first foray into Disc World and I’m really enjoying it. The story takes off almost immediately with a swift introduction to Tiffany, Miss Tick (who I can’t help thinking of the woman out of a crazy film called Troll) - plus she had a talking toadstool! Come on – stick a pointy hat on her bonce and it’s spot on!
and of course the Wee Free Men who I keep picturing like these little guys from Willow (except I think they’re brownies):
Also with Red hair and blue skin of course!
Anyway, without further ado, lets move on to this week’s questions.
But first, if you haven’t already read the Wee Free Men then
“Gang awa’ oot o’ here, ye daft wee hinny” because spoilers will no doubt be contained within!!
1. Since I am a nosy person, I want to know if this is your first Terry Pratchett book? Do you enjoy the humor and writing style so far?
This isn’t my first book by Terry Pratchett but it is my first Discworld. I have wanted to read some of these for a long while but there are simply so many books that it’s almost a bit daunting. I’ve read Nation which is a YA book and which I enjoyed. Some good humour for sure. I’ve also read Good Omens which given how much I love Neil Gaiman, and how much I’m enjoying this book so far, you would think I would have loved it but somehow I didn’t. I can’t put my finger on why and I wonder if I should reread it as some point. Anyway, yes, I am enjoying the humour so far.
2) We’ve been introduced to Tiffany Aching’s world of shepherding and cheese making and her family. What about this quaint setting has caught your eye?
So far I have no problem with envisaging the setting, it seems like an old fashioned farming family where everyone works hard. On top of that the people are deeply superstitious and read much into things. What has caught my eye I suppose is the way that Tiffany is very independent. She doesn’t seem to need a lot of guidance. She’s a very self controlled individual who doesn’t panic and I think that because she’s at that age where she can still believe in anything and still feel that special things can happen, not to mention coming from a background where people automatically believe the weird and wonderful over the mundane, anything is possible. I suppose that the quaint setting is a bit deceptive as it leads you to believe things will be quiet which they certainly aren’t.
3) Ah, the Nac Mac Feegles! Can you understand their speech? Who or what do you think the kelda is?
I can’t say I really know what the Kelda is – I think whatever she is she’s not somehow as bad as the Queen because she obviously tried to help the Wee Free Men to find someone who could assist in their hour of need. Now, who, would help these guys? Maybe a good fairy – actually, is there any such thing. Or possibly, as they’re sort of a rogue clan – I guess this means they’re not attached to one of the fae courts – perhaps the Kelda is their own type of fae royalty. Then again maybe not. A white witch? Or some sort of protector of the realms. Maybe it’s some sort of elemental or something as simple as Mother Earth. Clearly I don’t have a clue and I really wish I did. Perhaps if I make enough guesses I’ll eventually hit lucky! I can understand the little guys and they make me laugh – I’m sure these same guys have appeared in one of the Dresden Files!
4) Do you see a future for Tiffany at a witches’ school? Or do you think Ms. Tick will take on a mentor’s role?
I don’t know what to think yet – Tiffany seems like she’s going to be one of those witches who is going to develop a reputation and clearly have some talent. She’s not scared of sticking up for herself either. I think it would be good if she did go to school – perhaps she needs the structure but I wouldn’t necessarily say that would take Ms Tick out of the picture. I think these two will have more going on in the future for sure and if Tiffany does go to school I can’t see it being the sort of affair from Harry Potter. It would be quite refreshing if she continues to learn things as she goes along.
5) Wentworth has gone missing and there is a Queen involved. What do think she wants with him? If this is a reread, then how do you like having one magical world (the Queen’s) nestled within the Discworld universe (Tiffany’s world)?
Well, if she’s a queen of a seelie court then it’s not unheard of for them to take a human child. Usually as some sort of play thing. That being said, maybe there’s a bigger plot. Perhaps this is all a ruse to get Tiffany into the other world. I don’t know why at this stage. It could be that she has more power than she or any of the others are aware? It’s a bit like Harry Potter – maybe Tiffany is going to be the queen’s nemesis just like he was with Voldermort. It could also be that Wentworth was taken by mistake and maybe Tiffany was the intended target.
Please feel free to add anything else that stood out for you, made you chuckle, quirk an eyebrow, etc.
The sense of humour is great – for example, the wee men making off with the sheep – very funny, especially when Tiffany called out that there’d be a reckoning so they brought it back. I just like the dialogue. it’s quick, it’s witty and its embraced by this lovely story that feels like a fairy tale. I also like all the little tales about Granny Aching – she sounds like a real character.
Today is the conclusion of the Dragonflight readalong being hosted by Carl over at Stainless Steel Droppings. This has been an interesting book split really into almost two halves. The first introduces us to Pern and it’s inhabitants and dragons. The second half brings us something a little more unusual in terms of stepping outside of the realms of fantasy and into the realms of sci fi. If you haven’t read this book already the following post will include spoilers.
1. The Threads are further explored and become very much the focal point in parts 3 and 4 of Dragonflight. What are your thoughts on the Threads in general and how do you feel these worked as an enemy vs. the traditional enemies you see in SFF novels?
They almost don’t feel like an enemy. They’re not, after all, coming onto the planet and attacking people (as in swords and bombs, etc) – they’re just like some sort of alien plant life and maybe these threads are always shedded from the planet and if they land somewhere and grow root then all well and good – just like natural plant life, seeds from trees, spores from ferns and fungus. In a way it all seems much more natural and not like some nasty predator with big gnashing teeth – but for all that, the threat of them is very real, just again like in nature, when trees, for example, are sometimes killed by fungus attac, Basically the threads will turn the planet into a desert in fairly short order so it’s pretty damn important that they’re eliminated. I’m not sure that the Red Planet has an evil or malicious plan? It doesn’t feel like that to me at the moment. It just feels more like nature taking it’s course even if it is destructive. I suppose the other thing is that this is from a different planet and maybe there’s a natural predator there that keeps the threads in check? That being said it’s still a very potent threat. So, to cut a long story short, I like what McCaffrey has come up with here. Like I said, ‘threads’ they sound pretty innocuous but really they’re quite deadly. They might not be little green men with bulbous heads shouting ‘ack, ack, ack, we come in piece’ right before they dissolve you but they’re still pretty nasty!
2. The science fictional concept of time travel becomes an important device in the later half of Dragonflight, how do you feel McCaffrey did in working time travel into the plot?
I really enjoyed this aspect. It makes my head spin if I’m going to be totally honest because I get into this whole what came first question. Like The Terminator – if the Terminator hadn’t gone back in time to kill John Connor then the technology would not have existed to build the robots that eventually cause the nuclear disaster – so, time travel makes me all a dither and I have to pay proper attention, literally stop reading while I think about all the implications of the last chapter. I did actually guess about the importance of the time travel – probably stupidly, I thought maybe it would involve the future. Now, before you all jump out of your seats – I was thinking maybe Lessa coming back from the future to help them (because in the future she would know there was a problem now?? But would she have survived the problem in order to have come back? I give up). Having read on, of course, I realise how unrealistic this is because McCaffrey was keeping the whole time travel continuum thing in place with the not meeting your own self. But, yes, I really enjoyed this aspect of the story.
3. Of the new characters introduced in this second half of Dragonflight, who did you like/not like and why?
I liked the master harper guy whose name now escapes me (was it Robinton?)- need to go back and check his name out. Not sure if I particularly disliked anyone. I mean, you’re probably not supposed to like some of the Lord of Manor types – they’re all a bit obnoxious and yet after all there ‘oh, there are no threads and we’re not paying you tithes’ they were pretty quick to the table to bemoan what needed to be done when the real threat became apparent. I suppose the real person who was so horrible and hate-worthy was killed in the first few chapters.
4. We talked about it in the first discussion and there is no way we can get away from it in Part 2: What are your feelings on the progression of the relationship between F’lar and Lessa throughout this second half of the book?
Well, I was really puzzled when there was discussion about this last week because I hadn’t read further. Reading on this week my initial reaction was ‘what? you have to be kidding me’. In fact when I realised the full extent of what had happened I was pretty annoyed and almost at first a bit astonished that McCaffrey was writing that as part of her storyline. But then I got back to a bit more sideways thinking. Thinking about the threat which is a very natural threat, the way the weyr live feels a lot more closer to nature. It might not be our way but it is reflected quite a bit in the natural world and is clearly the way they live and what they expected. The top dog rules, the end. Having said that Lessa and F’Lar have clearly now developed feelings towards each other – so what happens if his dragon is no longer victorious!! Or maybe there’s more choice in it than we really know. Maybe the dragons have a lot more influence over who their partner is – I don’t know what I’m talking about basically which must be very apparent! But, yes, obviously I didn’t like what happened to Lessa but I can respect that this is a different planet, a different way of living, different rules, different expectations – just take the rounding up of the young boys who become dragonriders – you wouldn’t be best please would you if some dragon riding guy flys out of the sky and takes your son off. And the women chosen – some of them died when the dragon queen hatched! Different world, you could call them less civilised but basically at the end of the day it’s apples and pears.
5. And finally, what is your overall assessment of Dragonflight? How does it measure up against other classic science fiction you’ve read? Would you recommend it to modern readers, why or why not?
I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend to other readers. It’s not fantasy and its not sci fi – fusion!! What works about this is it’s not been done in a sort of surreal way. We don’t have this mediaeval world with dragons that is then invaded by the little green men shouting ‘ack, ack, ack’. It feels more, not realistic, but acceptable. Okay, and, I’m not comparing this to Feist’s Riftwar Sage in terms of story but I suppose the Magician was similar in that it quite seemlessly blended the two elements and made them work together in a way that felt reasonable. I can’t really compare this to a lot of classic sci fi because I’m not well enough read but I enjoyed it. I must admit though that the sci-fi element feels quite minimal – and what I suppose I mean by that is it’s not all gadgets and spaceships, hyperspace and strange new creatures.
This has been a great readalong Carl – thanks for hosting. A great choice of book with plenty of debate and discussion which was really enjoyable to take part in.