Two Serpents Rise by Max Gladstone, readalong: final week

Today is the final week of our readalong of Max Gladstone’s Two Serpents rise. Lynn over at  Little Lion Lynnet’s  is our host this week.  Without further ado lets get to the Q&A and if you haven’t read this book be aware that there will be spoilers below.

1. I think we all pegged Mal for being involved with whatever is going wrong in Dresediel Lex after the way Book 3 ended last week. How do you feel about discovering how deep that involvement goes?

Sort of disappointed to be honest – which I think just goes to show that I was really hoping that she wouldn’t be quite so bad or that somehow she’d manage to find some sort of compromise and would be redeemed.  I wound up feeling like she was just as big a fanatic as Temoc and would stop at nothing to get what she wanted.  I mean, I always had trust issues with Mal but I really didn’t expect her to be quite so extreme.

2. Caleb and Temoc have to work together to save Dresediel Lex (and the world) from certain destruction. Do you think they make a good team?

I quite enjoyed reading that element of the story and again was surprised that Temoc had such different intentions.  Clearly he’d pulled the wool over my eyes as well as Caleb’s.  I think Teo’s remarks about him not being a team player when they were running up the stairs was a good hint in that direction and also her distrust of him should have given me more of a clue but I just failed to pick it up and was really hoping that he was going to go all out to try and make Caleb’s suggestion work.  He didn’t really end up making any friends in the end.  Strangely, Mal and Temoc turned out to be very similar in the way they were prepared to go to such extreme lengths.

3. What do you think of the narrative’s overall treatment of Teo? Especially in light of her role in the finale?

I think Teo has been an interesting character to read and I was a bit surprised to be honest at her becoming such a victim all of a sudden.  Again I didn’t see that coming at all – but, she managed to turn the situation around and with Caleb working with her summon up the Red King.  I was pleased with the eventual outcome for both Caleb and Teo.

4. In the epilogue Caleb seems to have found a way to compromise between the ways of his father and the new world brought about by the God Wars. Do you think he’ll succeed in his goals?

It does seem like something of a dangerous idea but I really think he could make it work, The Red King seems inclined to help and Teo and Caleb make a good partnership.

You have to hand it to Max Gladstone for coming up with such an unusual world filled with strange creatures, magic and Gods and for managing to make his stories into something much more than you would generally expect.  I’ve really enjoyed all the discussion that this book has inspired and so thanks to all the other bloggers for making this so interesting.

Other bloggers taking part:

Lisa – Over the Effing Rainbow
Lauren – Violin in a Void
Anya – On Starships & Dragonwings
Heather – The Bastard Title
Lynn – Little Lion Lynnet’s 
Ria – Bibliotropic
Susan – Dab of Darkness

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Hobbit readalong, final week, J R R Tolkien

This week is the final week of the Hobbit readalong and the questions have been provided by  The Wicked Queen’s Mirror .  I really cannot stress enough that if you haven’t read The Hobbit and are intending to do so then don’t read any further as spoilers are contained within.

Thanks and straight to the Q&A:

1) Throughout the book there are many examples of greed (for both food and treasure). Why do you think Bilbo takes and hides the Arkenstone when he is later happy to ransom it for peace?  Is it simple greed? Forethought? Or a convenient plot device?

Strangely enough I don’t think Bilbo was bothered about any of the treasure.  He was only ever roped into the adventure because of his stubborn pride and he doesn’t really need any extra money as he already has a very comfortable existence.  I think throughout the story Bilbo showed a remarkable ability to think ahead and almost to benefit from a kind of foresight of sorts.  I’m not sure  that he knew himself why he’d picked up the Arkenstone other than that it seemed to be of great importance to Gloin – perhaps he was intending on presenting the stone to Gloin in a flourish, although I think it’s more likely that he’d started to see a different side to Gloin and so was keeping the stone as a bargaining tool.

2) Much has been written of Tolkien’s experiences in World War One and how the Lord of the Rings  shows both the romantic, heroic aspects of war (Aragorn’s journey)but also the stark realities (Frodo’s journey).  What did you think about the way the Battle of Five Armies was described? Did you feel these two aspects of war were represented?

Well, yes, I think both aspects were shown.  You have for example people rushing into the fray without hesitation, you have people and animals taking part, even at great risk to themselves, when they actually really didn’t need to join the battle and then alternately you have the loss of life and the sadness at the demise of Gloin and many others.

3)What did you think about the role of the goblins in the Battle of Five Armies? Was it easy for you to accept their appearance and that the threat they posed would automatically unite the men and elves with the dwarves? Or did you find it too simplistic?

I wasn’t really surprised at the appearance of the Goblins, they are basically greedy creatures and would be naturally compelled by the thought of all the wealth left unprotected after the passing of Smaug.  I suppose it was also fairly natural for the others to unite against the common enemy.  At the end of the day the elves/men and dwarves were not really enemies they were fighting over the gold and what they thought should be their share of of it.  The goblins are the natural enemy to all of them.

4) In ‘The Last Stage’ we are told Bilbo remained very happy to the end of his days. If you had been off on an adventures could you settle back to normal life so easily? Would you be content with only occasional visits to the elves?

I suppose Bilbo’s ‘Baggins’ side came out eventually.  We heard (many) times of his longing for his hearth and a cup of tea.  I think deep down he probably would have still liked something of an adventure but  maybe possession of the ring also changed his feelings.  After all, if he was off on adventures here and there roaming the hills there’d be more chance of him loosing the ring.

I enjoyed this reread and taking part with other readers.  I also feel set up and ready to watch the film now when it’ finally released.

I must confess I was surprised at how quickly Smaug was killed off – it seemed very sudden and I was expecting the dragon to have a bigger part somehow.  I thought the chapter where he met Bilbo and they had their little chat was very entertaining.

Thanks again to Writers’ Bloc for hosting this.