Two Serpents Rising by Max Gladstone – readalong

I recently finished reading Max Gladstone’s Three Parts Dead as part of a group readalong with a number of other bloggers.  It was very enjoyable and now we’re moving onto the second in the Craft Sequence books – Two Serpents Rising.

This is going to be great.  The full details can be found here.  If you want to take part then let Susan at Dab or Darkness know or simply leave me a comment and I’ll make sure you’re added to the list.

The first in the Sequence books was very original and I really enjoyed it.  I’m looking forward to No.2 – although I understand that these are not follow on novels so it will be interesting to compare.

These are all the other participants:

1st Post Date: April 13th Book 1: chapter 1-Interlude: Fire, hosted by Dab of Darkness

2nd Post Date: April 20th Book 2: chapter 16-Interlude: Dreams, hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow

3rd Post Date: April 27th Book 3: chapter 29-Interlude: Tea, Hosted by Violin in a Void

4th Post Date: May 4th Book 4: chapter 36-Epilogue, hosted by Little Lion Lynnet’s 

Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow

Me at Lynn’s Book Blog

Lauren at Violin in a Void

Anya at On Starships & Dragonwings

Ria at Bibliotropic Reviews

Lynn E. at Little Lion Lynnet’s

Susan at Dab of Darkness

Heather from The Bastard Title 

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Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone, Final Instalment

Wow, I don’t know how it came around so fast as I feel like time has simply flown by, but here we are at the end of our readalong for Max Gladstone’s excellent Three Parts Dead.

This week the lovely Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow is our wonderful host so please stop by and check out all the other participants answers.

If you’re reading this now, then yes, obviously, you’re too late to join the readalong but I strongly recommend you give this book a shot – it’s very entertaining and I found the setting and concept quite unique.

To the Q&A with the customary reminder that if you haven’t read this already you might want to look away about now:

1.  So we finally got all the facts behind whodunit – and how, and why… What did you think of the epic(sized) reveal scene? 

I enjoyed the final reveal – mostly because I hadn’t managed to second guess everything that was going on.  I was just enjoying reading and finding out the answers.  I’d put together that the Professor was basically not a nice guy and I kind of suspected he was trying to use God’s powers – however, I hadn’t realised the full extent of his machinations.  I also suspected that the Stone Men were being used as a set up and I had inner nigglings about the survival of their God but not to the extent that was finally revealed – and it was like an epic romance wasn’t it!  Well, not a romance, but you know what I mean!  And I never, for one second, realised what was going on with Abelard and his cigarettes – if that’s not the most unusual hiding place ever then I don’t know what is!

Surprise! We found Kos. You’ll never believe where he was… Or did you?

Haha, no I didn’t guess – see above.  So unusual.  I didn’t see that coming at all.

Elayne Kevarian proved to be even more devious than we suspected. What do you think of this Craftswoman now that the dust is settling? Sympathy for Denovo, or victorious fist-pump?

No sympathy for Denovo at all.  Not even a speck.  He was so horrible that I can’t even go there and in fact I think the ending he received was almost too good for him.  And Kevarian – she was something of a cool character.  That whole scene where she reduced the shadow monster to a pill sized blot and then swallowed it – I was like ‘what’?  What just happened.  That was such a great idea for the finale.

I did a little checking and the second book in this series seems to feature a whole new cast, though it’s still set in the same world. Do you think this one wrapped things up for Tara, Abelard and company well enough, or are you wishing for more? For that matter, will you read on? 

Yeah, I’d also heard that the other books are more like companion novels not follow ons.  I do feel like this wrapped things up fairly cleanly for the characters plus- even though the future books are not the same characters there’s always the possibility of hearing news in a second hand fashion??

I really enjoyed this – it was a very unusual concept and I will definitely continue with the series.

Thanks everyone for taking part – as usual this big jumble of ideas and questions has been really entertaining and thought provoking which is why I love readalongs – so many ideas chucked into the mix that make your brain go off on tangents that it probably wouldn’t have done so by itself – well, mine wouldn’t have anyway.

Face off!

Art it Up.  This is a meme hosted by Tabitha over at Not Yet Read.  The idea being to see if you can come up with some inspiration for a little sketch or doodle from your last week’s reading or just anything else in general. My recent reading includes the first part of Max Gladstone’s Three Parts Dead (as part of a readalong), and The Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan.  If you’ve read Three Parts Dead I hope you’ll know what I’ve done here:

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Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone, Readalong Part 2

And the second week of our readalong is upon us already – time really does fly when you’re having fun!

This week’s lovely hostess is Susan from Dab of Darkness.  Be sure to stop there and leave a link or check out her answers.  Also, beware of spoilers below – they’ll be running amok.  Plus, if you still want to jump in the schedule and other participants are here and so without further ado lets get to the Q&A.  Conspiracies and intrigue have been aplenty this week and I’m keen to see what everyone makes of it all.

1)Throughout this section, we learn little tidbits about our main characters: Tara & her time at the Secret Universities, Kevarian and her past works, Abelard & his childhood. What fascinated you the most? 

I think all the little snippets of information were interesting to read about and some very enlightening. I mentioned that I was keen to know more about the Craft and whether its a magic that anyone can wield so I really enjoyed learning that it seems to be something that presents itself fairly early on in life and the school then seems to take an interest in these children that are gifted. Sticking to Tara for the moment it was good to find a little bit more about her expulsion from school.  I admit I felt a wee bit guilty as I’d automatically jumped to the conclusion that she’s done something to provoke the situation when in actual fact she was simply standing up to the Professor who was abusing his students and taking terrible advantage of them.  Also interesting to pick up that maybe that same Professor has perhaps had a relationship with Kevarian??  Did it feel to anyone else that Kevarian was a little bit scared of the Prof maybe??

2) So many conspiracies! Someone tried to burn out some of Raz’s memories, there were super secret contracts between the dead Cabot and Kos and some unknown third party, and Abelard found a hidden altar in the heart of Kos’s church! Do you think they are connected? 

There is a lot going on here.  The history between the Stonemen and Justice and the obvious animosity between the two.  It seems to me that the Stonemen have been set up to be the fall guys by someone.  They’ve not been in the city for years and when they’re called back it’s to find themselves at the scene of an ugly crime.  Personally, I can’t help thinking that the Professor is the main instigator.  My main reasons are that he was the person who set up Justice, thereby banishing the Stonemen – so he certainly won’t have any qualms about pinning the dastardly deed on them.  He also seems to be up to no good with his students and leaching their power.  I’m not sure why I think he’s the lynchpin – maybe he’s trying to see the destruction of all the Gods, maybe he manages to steal some of their power somehow.  There was also this strange contract between Kos and Cabot.  Again, if Kos had to ‘pay out’ on that contract (whatever it was) but never got his ‘pay back’ then perhaps somebody else gained in power – okay, I’m useless.  Still think it was the Prof though.

3) This question is just for fun & came about from discussion over at Violin in a Void last week. Abelard is a chain smoker and his worship of Kos keeps him safe from any ill effects of said smoking. If there were multiple deities who could protect you from ill effects of different vices (alcohol, illicit drugs, gluttony, etc.), which vice, if any, would you pick? 

The vice of sitting around endlessly, reading and chatting to people about books, perhaps taking the odd glass of wine in the evening and generally being useless and lazy in every respect.  Sloth!

4) Stonemen! Will Tara be able to win over Shale and gain his assistance? Will Justice’s Black Suits face off against them, potentially destroying the city? Discuss!

I feel sorry for the Stonemen after reading about their downfall.  They’re casualties of circumstances outside their control and they’ve been hated on for a while now. If I was Shale I’d be pretty damned vexed with Tara about now!  I mean, she took his face off for goodness sake.  That’s got to be a bit disorientating. I think she’ll manage to bring him around though – after all the Stonemen need allies who believe they’re not the baddies right about now.  You can’t help feeling that the Stonemen and Justice could work so well together if they could just overcome their differences.

5) The Courthouse of Crafts is a strange place. Feel free to comment on it. Ms. Kevarian tells Tara, last minute, that she will be the one to face Donovo. Calculated way to boost Tara’s confidence? Or a cruel way to test her?

I loved the Courthouse.  It felt like something out of Harry Potter where nothing is ever as it first seems.  Rooms seem to change, staircases rotate, doors appear, etc.

Personally I don’t think Kevaria was being cruel.  I do think it was a test because at the end of the day Tara is in something of a sink or swim situation at the moment and throwing her in at the deep end could be just what she needs to get the creative ideas flowing.  Some people just work better under stress so I suppose it will help to show whether Tara can rise to the occasion or not.

And what a cliffhanger – I’m relieved to get back to it now I’ve made all my ridiculous answers.

Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone, readalong part 1

And we’re off.  It’s the first week of our readalong for Max Gladstone’s Three Part Dead.  Firstly, if you haven’t already read the book the Q&A below will be rife with spoilers so you might want to step away now!  The schedule and other participants are here and if you want to join in feel free to do so.  We’ve only read the first 100 or so pages so far so easy to catch up.  If you haven’t read the book – we get off to a great start as Tara graduates and is simultaneously thrown out of school.  She almost immediately becomes caught up with Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao, a mysterious firm (so far) whose employees seem to use the Craft.  The craft is a magic system and the users so far seem to particularly focus on necromancy.  We’re also introduced to Abelard who’s basically been having a bad time – being a devotee and priest of the God Kos who has basically just died!  Yeah, that’s right – but, did he die or was there foul play??  Anyway, to the questions:

1. Max Gladstone isn’t holding any hands here, we’re dropped straight into the world (which is a bit ironic given the start – but I’ll get to that) and expected to pick up and run with it.  Are you enjoying the style and, more to the point,  what ‘reveals’ have been the most surprising for you so far??

I’m really enjoying Gladstone’s approach to be honest, I actually enjoy reading a book where the world building and history are revealed as we go along so this is working really well for me.  It also helps to give the story a very good pace as it isn’t bogged down with annoying info dumps.  I can’t say I really have a good feel for the world itself yet but we’re only a third in so plenty of time.  It’s a strange mixed up place though.  Vampires – didn’t see that coming at all and you have to hand it to MG for getting the jaw dropping wow factor – wtf with the whole face removal thing!! I mean, firstly, we have a stone man/gargoyle and then we have a crazy assed bit of magic that results in a face being removed from a body and, well, never mind, but take my word for it – it’s a bit mind boggling.  Okay, I’ve not described that very well but that’s basically because I’m still in the shock zone.  I think that was one of the weirdest things, ever!

2. At the start of the book Tara graduates and is cast out of school (literally from a great height) simultaneously – any ideas about why that might be?

I’m really curious about why she was thrown out.  I’m assuming this isn’t a ‘last test’ type of scenario to see whether or not you’ll survive although i suppose it could be – seems a bit harsh though.  Tara does seem like a confident sort and also quite resourceful, she’s also not averse to a bit of creative crafting from what we’ve seen so far so I’m wondering if she veered from the straight and narrow somehow?  We’ve already found out that Elayne Kevarian has taken a bit of a risk in taking her on and that this is only a temporary arrangement pending how successful she is.

3. I’m always interested in the magical systems and how they work and the one here seems to almost be a ‘payback’ type of affair.  What are your thoughts about the magical system so far, we do have a dead deity after all, not to mention it appears that regular everyday people can access magic as well as deities. Discuss please (if only to enlighten my tiny brain!)

I’m still a bit all over the place with the magical system.  We have the Gods who presumably derive their power through the belief system.  They’re much more apparent than your normal deity types.  For example, Kos, being the Fire God, his power seems to underpin the whole working of the City Alt Coulomb and that’s what makes his death such a disaster as quite literally the City will pretty soon descend into chaos.  On the opposite side of the coin we have people who can use the craft – this seems to be soul magic??  That’s about the best description I can come up with so far and I’m definitely interested in reading everyone else’s thoughts on the magic system.

4. We’re only a third in but how are you feeling towards the characters so far. are you developing any favourites already, any sneaky suspicions of any of the characters or are you loving them all?

I like Tara so far, she’s a cool character for sure and not afraid to take risks – or at least she might be afraid but she just gets over it and gets on with what needs doing.  I don’t feel like I’ve really seen enough of Elayne to really make a judgement about how she’ll really turn out although I did like her for coming clean with Tara about her job being reliant on how she undertakes this first job.  I’m really enjoying the character of Abelard though.  He just makes me smile for some reason – he comes across as a bit beleaguered and being dragged into this whole thing reluctantly.  It was interesting to see when he changed into his different togs to go out on the town and find some more help – clearly he doesn’t spend all his time practising being saintly!

Other posts this week:

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

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