Chapters 45-52. Questions by Susan.
Also, and I hope it’s ok that I mention it here, I’m participating in a readalong of Game of Thrones etc. at bookhouse.club, a new bookish forum. We only just finished reading chapter 1, and we’re taking it slow (a chapter every other day). Please pop in if you want!
1) Imriel spends a night on the island of Asclepius. Do you agree with Imriel that his nature is to be cruel? Do you think of Imriel as a stunted tree reaching for the light?
I don’t think it’s in Imriel’s nature more than its in anyone else’s. I think he tries harder to be good because he saw how far cruelty can go. I think he conflates S&M with cruelty and forgets the consensual aspect of it in a way that punishes himself.
The stunted tree is a good metaphor for Imriel. I think he feels broken, but he is stronger than he realizes. I’m just now reminded of the 3rd Karate Kid movie with the bonsai that was damaged. Mr. Miyagi said that the tree would be fine because it had strong roots.
2) Imriel makes a good go of breaking things off with Claudia. However, throughout this section we have seen how the spark between them is not yet doused. What do you think of Imriel’s lingering desires? Is Claudia telling the truth about her own desires?
He’s how old, 18? I get that he can still lust after Claudia but also want to call things off with her. And while Claudia hides truths from Imriel, I don’t think she lies to him.
3) Imriel reveals his full identity to Lucius and he learns of the legend of the Bella Donna, based on his own mother. Clever, intentional legend building by Melisande, or a fanciful story that built up over time or was borrowed from another legend?
Melisande may have encouraged rumors, but I don’t think she would have built it up from the ground. It sounds too much like blasphemy.
4) All is not well at the city of Luca. Helena has been kidnapped. The ghosts of the dead walk among the living. Lucius is possessed by his warlord ancestor Gallus Thaddeus. What do you think of this harsh man/ghost?
I love the struggle between Lucius and Gallus. I love how some of the soldiers/guards of Lucca are glad to see Gallus.
5) When Imri and crew return to the Thaddeus Villa with the injured Gilot, Imriel ponders the wonder of women. ‘The courage of women is different than the courage of men.’ Do you agree?
I don’t know. I generally try to stay away from blanket statements about the difference between the sexes. But I think often traits or virtues are not recognized the same way in men and women.
6) With the city under siege, an older mystery pops up with the arrival of Canis. Why do you think Imriel held his tongue and only told Eamonn?
To protect Canis and any knowledge that he might have and to protect himself. If Imriel said something to someone else “hey, I know this guy. He was a beggar outside my home in Tiberium” Gallus or the soldiers might think he’s…I don’t know…someone nefarious. And then they would wonder why a nefarious person is after Imriel, which might force him to reveal his identity to more people.
I noticed some similarities between Delaunay’s story and Lucius’s. It could be that these are just common elements to any sort of historical fantasy epic, but I thought it might be worth mentioning. There are similar elements but different relationships.
Delaunay and Edmee were childhood friends. Edmee was betrothed to Rolande in a political match, but Rolande and Delaunay were in love.
Lucius and Helena were childhood friends. They became engaged in a political match, but Helena and Bartolomeo were in love.
Edmee was killed by Isabel L’Envers (either she did it or hired someone to do it), a (political) rival to marry Rolande.
Bartolomeo was killed by the Duke of Valpetra (either directly or by one of his hired men), a (political) rival (to Lucius) to marry Helena.
Earlier in the book, Lucius recites part of Delaunay’s poem. “O, dear my lord, let this breast on which you have leant, serve now as your shield.” That kind of reminds me of Bartolomeo dying to protect Helena. If I recall correctly, he mentions this poem a few times. Is it is foreshadowing to future similar events, or is it really just about him wishing he was born in another time?