GGK Book Club: The Wandering Fire, ch 5-8
Here we begin the proper crying bits.
I’m pretty sure, in retrospect, that I’ve been reading aspects of Jennifer’s story wrong for years. I’d always read her as actually being a victim of child abuse, through mis-interpretation of the events at the end of THE SUMMER TREE, but I don’t think that’s actually the case. Which is good, because she’s got a hard enough road as it is.
There’s also the fact that she’s literally drawing on mythical strength, but that doesn’t make me any less admiring of her as a character. She makes hard choices, but one of the ones I particularly like is her braving the difficulty of sharing what she knows about Maugrim. She does it for a lot of reasons, of course, the major one being (I think) revenge, but ultimately it’s for the greater good, which is then such a heartbreaking contrast with the revelation of who she really is, and the eternal perception of her being the source of downfall for good men.
I’m not actually sure why the lios alfar recognize Arthur, and I don’t think I much wondered about it when I read these as a yout’. But now I do wonder. Maybe it’s just that they have a particular gift of perception and the cycle is written all over Arthur’s face. And Brendel did almost recognize Jen in the first place, and (just now re-reading that bit of text) it seems to support the theory that he recognizes the doom, anyway. I still don’t care if it doesn’t work for people. I love that their story is here. :)
I’d forgotten about Lianne and Kevin (poor Dave!) and the foreshadowing Lianne sets in place there. I had *also* forgotten Shalhassan’s entrance and how Diarmuid knew and Aileron didn’t, but I think that this reading was the first time I ever really understood what the two brothers had pulled off there. There are a number of moments like that in this trilogy in particular, where I always felt like I was missing something, and now that I think about it most of them were among Diarmuid’s “both of them/having it both ways” escapades.
For some reason I’m less pleased by Shassa’s sneaking about here than I was with the stuff in SUMMER TREE. Possibly because in SUMMER TREE Diarmuid pretty well deserved to get a dagger in the shoulder at the least and here her sneaking seems slightly more…spoiled princess who intends to have it her way, neener neener. But I may be being unkind, I don’t know.
The crying parts, though, oh my god. I mean, we’ve established I’m basically weeping my way through all the Dalrei stuff anyway, but Finn. Finn and Dari. I had totally forgotten this section with their story, and it destroyed me. Finn is so good, and Dari so innocent, and Paul so…*afraid*. I understand why, he’s right to be, and yet at the same time I want so badly for him to be able to *not* be afraid. To rise above it. And I think he tries but fails, which … well, I still want him to be better than that, I guess. I dunno. (Don’t get me wrong, I think his reactions are in character for any even slightly sane person, it just kills me. :))
I actually read through the end of the Finn section, because I was afraid if I stopped partway through I’d never have the nerve to pick it back up again. As it is, knowing what’s coming next, I still haven’t finished the book, because augh. Anyway, I don’t know if the stuff with Finn and Dari hit me harder because I’m now a parent or (certainly this is part of it) because I’ve become a total sap, but I actually found Finn leaving for the Longest Road incredibly difficult, not least because it meant leaving Dari behind. God. I’ve hardly got the heart to go on!
Sorry for the delay in posting. Got distracted and then waylaid by various things. Also I stopped after Chapter 8, so I’ll save most of the Finn/Dari bits for next post.
The time-skipping among these chapters confused me a little at first (after the battle! now right after they arrive! now after the battle again!) I do feel kind of bad for Dave, although it’s not like Kevin did anything *wrong*. But the guys were starting to get along and their interactions were fun. I feel bad for Kevin, too, because everyone else but Jennifer has a new name or a title and a purpose (and Jen’s true name will come soon) and he’s… just there. Hanging out with the guys, but unable to be a fighter. Trying to get them to be merciful, but only succeeding in looking silly.
I want to punch Aileron after he tells Jennifer how she can be a strategic help. I understand why, and Aileron is very good at being the type of person that’s needed to fight this war, but I still want to punch him. The fact that Jennifer is actually willing to tell Loren and Matt makes me love her. Although I feel very sad for her, because after she comes to Fionavar, she doesn’t really get to be Jennifer Lowell all that much; first, she’s the Unraveller’s victim, later she’s Guinevere. Telling Loren and Matt is at least some way she can do something rather than be done unto.
I note Dave’s concern for the Dalrei; of course there was no way he wasn’t going to that battle.
The bits with Paul and the Snow Queen are interesting. He gets to more or less be Odin here, but as noted later, he can’t quite access the powers of the gods all the time, and it frustrates him. Not knowing things seems to be one of his biggest frustrations, although I can understand why Jaelle moved Vae and Finn and Dari without telling him. The fewer people know what’s going on there, the better.
Ah, the cauldron that raises the dead. Several of my favorite book series draw on that myth. There’s the titular Black Cauldron of the Prydain series, and I think you can probably guess the other. ;)
I like how both Aileron and Diarmuid play to their strengths in the confrontation with Shalhassan. Sharra’s tagging along bothers me a bit less because this is basically *the* big war starting. If things go wrong here, it’s not going to make that much of a difference if she stays back in Cathal or not.
I can buy that the lios alfar have some sort of ability to recognize figures of mythic resonance. They’re also longer-lived and so legends that have faded from mortal telling may still be very active among them.
Finally, oh, Finn and Dari. Knowing what’s coming makes the end of Chapter 8 that much more poignant.