This week wraps up the read-along of Max Gladstone’s Last First Snow, and I have provided the questions for the final section, chapters 54 through the end. Beware below of spoilers through the end of the novel!
1. Everything came to a head in this chapter, and Elayne chose her tricky path for protecting the Skittersill. Do you think there is more she could have done, or do you think she chose the right path?
I think it is natural for her to feel she could have done more, but I really think she did all she could. She knew her own limits, and knew that she could not openly defy the Red King in his own city and hope to win. She twisted a lot of promises, including her words to the Red King and the insurance contract, in order to protect as much and as many people as possible. After seeing the dead in the square, I think she felt like she had fallen into the same mistake as the developers in the negotiations— she had protected the real estate of the Skittersill, but allowed its community to burn. She must have protected quite a few people outside the square, though, who would have otherwise been killed or rendered homeless.
Elayne Kevarian has always been one of my favorite characters in the Craft Sequence, and this story has only made me respect her more. Rather than allying herself blindly with Craft or Faith, she is determined to help make the world a better place for human beings to live. When the Red King decided to commit mass murder, her decision to follow her convictions and oppose him seemed true to her character and her history. I wish there were more consequences for the Red King’s actions, but he has at least lost Elayne’s friendship.
2. Now we see more of the Quechal gods, and the way they think of their believers. What do you think of Temoc's chosen path? Also, what do you think of the Quechal faith after this betrayal?
I should have guessed this would happen, but I didn’t really think about it until Temoc was mysteriously unable to protect his believers. It makes a brutal sort of sense. Temoc wanted his gods to protect the believers, but the gods wanted to use the believers' deaths to protect themselves. I can’t imagine how sick Temoc must have felt after that betrayal, and I wonder if he regretted his choices. He is a dedicated Eagle Knight, though, and he had already figuratively sacrificed his family for his beliefs. Maybe he feels that he has gone too far down the path to ever be able to back out.
I feel like the Craft Sequence usually shows the pros and cons of the ways of Faith and Craft, and does not usually come down heavily on one side or the other. However, I feel like the Quechal faith serves as a pretty clear example of why the Wars happened in this universe. I can’t imagine why people followed the Quechal gods in Dresediel Lex in the first place, and it boggles my mind that people would continue to do so after Chakal Square. Still, I think this book is still balanced in its portrayal of the two sides, as the Red King has committed his share of atrocities.
3. When all seemed lost, Elayne heard a mysterious voice. Do you have any theories on what that voice is, and how it fits into the Craft mythology?
I have theories, though they are probably wrong! This voice was associated with the starlight, which is the source of Craftspeople’s power. Could it be that the dichotomy of Craft/Faith is false, and that the two are interconnected? I mean, perhaps the origin of the power used in Craft is God, a greater being than the various Earth-bound deities we’ve seen in the different cultures. How would the Craftspeople react to find out that they are actually still a part of the system that they have turned away from? This could fundamentally change Elayne’s understanding of the world.
4. What did you think of Last First Snow overall, in comparison with Gladstone's other books? What was your favorite part(s), and what would you most like to see more of in future books?
I think this was an excellent book, and it’s now my favorite of Gladstone’s novels (Three Parts Dead is my second favorite). This last section was both exciting and emotionally draining, and I have such conflicted feelings about Temoc. I don't know if I could point to one favorite moment, but I loved the part where Elayne was taking the fire of the Skittersill into herself, while also splitting her power to protect as many people as possible. I would like to see more of Elayne in future books, and prequels that involve the world during the Wars. It looks like the next book is going to involve Tara (another of my favorite characters of the series) and Alt Coulomb. I hope Tara calls in Ms. Kevarian for help!
—Chel didn’t make it. I was hoping she would, after she wasn’t sacrificed during the last section. I do think Elayne saved the wrong person, but I don’t think she had much of a choice. She didn’t have enough time to react in order to save Chel.
—I assumed Mina was going to die, because I didn’t remember her from Two Serpents Rise… she must have been in there, and I’m just forgetting her. Hurray for Mina’s survival!
—It bothers me that none of the people in power have to deal with any major consequences for their actions. The Red King actually napalmed his own citizens, and he is still in power. I guess there is no one powerful enough to hold him accountable, as much as Temoc wishes otherwise.