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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Two Serpents Rise by Max Gladstone, readalong week 3

Today is our third week of the readalong of Max Gladstone’s Two Serpents Rise this week hosted by the lovely Lauren at Violin in a Void – so be sure and stop over there too.  This week the action has certainly increased and I’m keen to get to the discussion so will jump in without further ado.  If you haven’t read this series please beware of spoilers below and if you have read it then please join the discussion!

1. After the fight at Seven Leaf, Caleb apologises to Mal and they finally start dating. What do you think of the way their relationship has developed? Do you agree with Mal that Caleb chased her because he needs gods in his life?

It’s a strange relationship and I haven’t entirely trusted Mal for a while now.  The last few chapters have done nothing to change my feelings in that respect although oddly I don’t find myself disliking her.  Conversely, I didn’t think Caleb had anything to apologise for but it seemed that he wanted the relationship to continue more than Mal did and so did the chasing and apologising – it’s becoming something of a pattern really in terms of Caleb wanting this relationship the most.  Mal is a conundrum – I don’t really know what her feelings are about Caleb but I think their whole relationship is based on misunderstanding.  I don’t think they really know each other at all and what they have together is very tenuous to say the least and based on what they both want to believe rather than what is actually the truth. It’s going to be interesting to see if they have something stronger or not.

2. This section has been quite philosophical. Where do you stand on the debate – gods, no gods, or some kind of compromise? Do you agree with Caleb’s idea of sacrificing your morality because the religious alternative is even worse?

It’s an intriguing debate and I’m not totally sure what the right way forward is really. It seems to me that both ways are flawed at the moment – either an all powerful and greedy God or a substitute system that still requires very dubious moral choices.  It would be better if a compromise could be reached but I’m not really sure that’s possible.  It’s difficult to comment really because in our world people either believe in Gods or not – in Gladstone’s worlds it’s a different thing altogether because clearly there is very real evidence that they do exist – it’s more about what you’re prepared to put up with to live the life you want.

3. Gladstone is still unveiling amazing things in his world, like a sport based on myth, the eclipse festival, walking on water, and a half-dead sea god whose heart is being used for desalination. What interested you the most? 

The walking on water idea brought me to a standstill to be honest – I had to stop and go back a little bit, like, ‘did I really just read that’.  Such an unusual idea that put me in mind of the story of Jesus walking on water!  And the whole idea of using a half dead God to clean up sea water for drinking purposes – it’s a bit horrible really isn’t it? Like you’ll just take the bits and pieces of whatever happens to suit your needs the most.  So, you’re not having a God based system because the costs are still too high for you but you’ll just keep certain parts – I’m not entirely happy with that idea – ties in with question 2 of course.  In terms of jaw dropping – what about the thing with the shark – OMG – not sure I’d want a shark to try and eat me during, ahem, you know!  Talk about coitus interruptus.

4. Mal has noted twice that they don’t have much time, and she apologises to Caleb while he sleeps on the ocean. Then Alaxic kills himself and tries to kill Temoc – the last two priests of the old Quechal. What do you think is going on here? Any speculation about how it might turn out?

Well, it just makes me think that Mal and Alaxic are working together – which okay I’m just being daft as clearly she was revealed as working with Alaxic at the contract signing – I think that was the first major indication for me that Mal wasn’t all she seemed though.  I don’t understand though why Alaxic would try to kill them both.  Maybe he thinks that Temoc will be able to thwart whatever plans are afoot.

I can’t wait to see how this ends and looking forward to all the discussion this week.