GGK Book Club: THE SUMMER TREE, ch 13-16
Dammit, I knew I was going to be bad at this, which was why my basic intention was to read the books all at once and set up posts ahead of time with my commentary to autopost on the appropriate days. Life, however, hasn’t been enormously accommodating in that regard (February will, I swear, be better), and obviously I haven’t been very good at getting things posted. I did finish *reading* SUMMER TREE, but oi,
We’ll be starting THE WANDERING FIRE this week, with chapters 1-4 up on Tuesday. Or possibly Wednesday, given how late I am getting the last post for SUMMER TREE up. *shakes a tiny fist at self* :p
Copy-pasting my comments on Chapters 13-16 from the previous entry here.
I find Dave’s social awkwardness somewhat endearing, and as a fellow socially awkward introvert, I can sympathize. He’s much better with an axe than I am, though. ;)
I am enjoying the gradual unfolding of the legends of Fionavar with Levon’s telling of the tale of Lisen and Amairgen, and also how it comes into play with Fildais. Fildais puzzles me a bit, and I can’t remember if he features in future books. I’m going to say probably, and also note that the Taliesin reference is a nice bit of foreshadowing.
Love the scenes with Tabor and Imraith-Nimphais. Like the tale of Lisen, there’s great beauty and great sadness. My heart is breaking for Ivor already.
I like the scenes between Aileron and Diarmuid, and Paul calling Aileron out. But Diarmuid? If you get consent, then you don’t get ladies trying to assassinate you. Or throwing water on you. And don’t start snarking about how it’s childish; real men ask.
Dave’s reunion with Kevin made me laugh. It’s a great moment of levity without being out of place.
Finally, Chapter 16. It was *hard* to read, because I knew what had to be coming; I actually put it off for a few days until I felt I was in the right mindset. It’s dark and painful. We’re dealing with true evil here, something that warps and twists what is good and supportive into something horrible and vile. It has no reason other than to be evil. And Rakoth has learned from his mistakes previously; I winced internally when they essentially said, “Well, he just got out; we can fight him before he rebuilds his fortress and his power.” Nope. It’s worse than you realize. Far worse.
The very end is incredibly frantic and it’s normally something I don’t like in books, but it works here. It may work because I haven’t read The Summer Tree without immediately having The Wandering Fire to follow up with.
I have been busy with preparations for KEY RESOLVE, so I appear to have missed the posting window on the previous chapter, as well as being late on this.
I think these are some of my favorite chapters.
Ivor is the first POV character that I can say without reservation that I get, which is rather odd, as I feel too young to understand the main cast. Reading Ivor makes me feel old, but that’s fine.
I will definitely second the question on why Rakoth moves as he’s done. He’s shown an awful lot of interest in the outworlders, to the point of his servants following Loren through the worlds and revealing their presence.
The extirpation on the Tree was an interesting scene, and it would be interesting to, as Kate touches on, try to dissect things from different perspectives, but by the end it’s water under the bridge and those parties able to are marching on.
I really like the depiction of the Goddess. I think it’s a good job here depicting her as both primal force and sapient being. And definitely I must echo the comment above – the Goddess makes note that Liane has the ability to make choices of her own; Dave’s mental language has got this property rights tone that really grated on me.
I like Levon more and more. He’s good at decisive and effective action.
I would have liked to see more on Pendaran Wood, and hope that we get more from it in the future, either resolving its history or at least showcasing its lethality. I’m not really a stickler for Chekov’s Gun – some pieces of background color are fine to stay in the background – but this has been used as a plot point.
Speaking of Chekov’s gun, I’m beginning to worry that Imraith-Nimphais is going to wind up the victor in an aerial duel with Avaia, and while I’m sort of big into winged unicorns at the moment, I still really like Avaia, creepy as that sounds.
Jaelle’s comment on never hearing the Goddess makes me wonder if her lack of balance is the cause, rather than the result. It also makes me wonder again how exactly she rose to be High Priestess. Maybe she’s better and more charismatic in internal politics than she is in external, where she seems primarily a force for discord, which is really disappointing. Any High Priestess of such an awesome Goddess who can’t be even half as effective and productive as Gereint – who is quite awesome – is a waste.
The meeting of Aileron and Diarmuid was… interesting. I misremember how much history we’ve got on the two, but the fact that Aileron believes he might have to murder his brother for the throne, and is willing to do so, and furthermore that Diarmuid knows this well enough to anticipate and avert it doesn’t bode well for a unified opposition to Maugrim. Now, I will say that for once Diarmuid actually gets some props; he’s cool under pressure, gives Sharra an out, and would make me quite happy, except for the fact that he created the situation in the first place for no apparent reason other than a lark. Because, really, it’s not much of an out. She still needs to take a quarterstaff and beat the smug out of him.
On Diarmuid and Aileron, frankly, I’m not sure which of the two I’d rather have as commander – Diarmuid is a jerk, and apparently thoughtless, but he’s got a good head on his shoulders, and commands the respect of his men. My impression of Aileron so far is just a swelled head, without much in the way of emotional leavening. He’s good with a sword, but that’s a talent needed in a soldier, not a commander (depending, obviously, on what a culture demands of its military leaders). So far, of the noblefolk I’d follow Sharra. She’s rash, but she’s smart and any princess capable of not only blending in with her commoner soldiers undetected, but then making her way through a completely unknown castle to pick the best assassination spot is a force to be reckoned with. Given my druthers, I’d put the Dalrei in charge; my only hesitations are that they might be given to honor duels rather than brutal total warfare, and might not have the drilling on more convoluted military science and logistics in a combined arms force beyond their plains culture. But I suspect the other kingdoms would share the same cultural blinkering, so it’s probably a wash.
What can I say about Chapter 16? It shows what the worlds are up against. I will say this – while Rakoth Maugrim is horrid, he’s ruled by his base desires, not his intellect. Almost every action has shown it. When he first arrives, he shouts his name and proclaims his purpose. When he thinks he’s ready, he announces his presence across the lands with fire in the sky – rather than with overwhelming armies at his enemies’ doorsteps. He takes Jennifer rather than decapitating the Lios Alfar. He appears to care more about being recognized and feared than he does about defeating his enemies or achieving his stated goals. And if I’m going to face an evil god, that’s exactly the sort I’d want as my opponent.