Saturday, March 22, 2014

Review: The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe

The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe
Published: Simon & Schuster/Sidgwick & Jackson (1980)
Series: Book 1 of the Book of the New Sun
Awards Won: World Fantasy and BSFA
Awards Nominated: Nebula, Campbell, and Locus F

The Book:

The Shadow of the Torturer begins the 4-volume story of Severian, who we meet as an apprentice torturer on a decaying world called Urth.  His orderly life takes its first unexpected turn when he has a chance encounter with the revolutionary Vodalus.  It is changed forever when a small act of mercy towards a ‘client’ causes him to be exiled from the Citadel that was his home.

Severian begins his journey to become the local carnifex (executioner) of the distant city of Thrax.  As it turns out, he is able to follow his path only to the city outside the Citadel, Nessus, where many encounters and complications delay his passing.” ~Allie

This is the first Gene Wolfe novel I’ve read, and I plan to at least finish this tetralogy.  I’ll likely read more of Wolfe’s work, depending on how I enjoy the complete series.  I’ve heard a lot of praise for these novels, so my expectations are high!

My Thoughts:

The Shadow of the Torturer is the first novel of a tetralogy, and it definitely feels like the first quarter of a larger work.  The novel is described as a document translated from a future language into current English, and it tells the story of Severian, who lives in a far-future dying ‘Urth’. Since the story is set far from modern-day, the narrator’s vocabulary includes a number of unusual words, some of which are taken from non-English languages and other which are derived from words in currently existing languages. I thought this was a neat touch, and it made it easier to work out the meanings of many of the words. The story is a memoir told by an older Severian, so it is shaped around events that he wants to relay, skipping over ‘unimportant’ events.  Severian also occasionally digresses a little from the story to discuss particular topics in more detail. My idea of what events were important did not always seem to match up with Severian’s, but I’m guessing that some seemingly minor events in the story will grow in importance as I gain more information throughout the series.

Severian’s world feels mostly like a feudal fantasy scenario, but there are also occasional pieces of advanced technology, as well as references to or relics of a technological past. At this point in the story, the distinction between fantastical and science fictional doesn’t seem to make that much difference, but I’ll be interested to see if and how this changes in the future volumes.  This atmosphere does allow for some really creative scenes, which are probably technology-based, but sometimes seem magical. For instance, Severian is at one point challenged to a duel—to be fought using poisonous flowers that are collected from the banks of a lake that preserves the bodies of the dead. For this and many other interesting scenes, no explicit explanation is given, so it rests in an ambiguous place between science and magic.   

The way the story drifts from one of these strange events to the next gives the feeling of wandering through a dream.  Severian’s response to the things that happen around him intensifies this feeling, since he approaches everything with a very passive, detached, and incurious attitude.  Like a dreamer, he seems to just accept everything that happens to and around him with little question. At first I found the way the story was progressing to be frustrating, since Severian didn’t really seem to be getting anywhere in terms of his stated goals (such as going to Thrax).  Once I got used to the style, though, I was better able to appreciate the interesting aspects of each event as it occurred. I expect that many of the events of this novel, and characters introduced, will play some greater role in the novels to come.

Though Severian’s detached personality helped set the tone of the story, I really disliked him as a character. He was raised to be a torturer, and he takes great pride in the proper execution of his craft.  He does not care for the guilt or innocence of his ‘clients’, but only that the proscribed sentences are carried out smoothly.  Given his upbringing, I think his amorality and lack of compassion make a lot of sense, but understanding the origin of these traits doesn’t make him any easier to like.  He also has an unfortunate view of women, which colors how the female characters are treated and act in the novel.  Some of his musings betray that he has some pretty disturbing opinions on sexual violence.  I don’t get the impression that any of these character traits are likely to change, or even to be treated negatively in the text.  Given this, I think I can just accept that I will never approve of Severian, and continue to enjoy the creative story.  

The novel ends abruptly, and it seems clear that the novel is meant to be read as the first quarter of a larger work. In the end, Severian’s adventures in Nessus seemed more like a string of events than a single cohesive story.  A few of the subplots are resolved, in a way, before the end of the novel, but most of them leave many lingering questions. I have actually already started reading the second novel in the tetralogy, because I think I really need to continue while all the details are fresh in my mind.  Based on my experience so far with the second book, I feel pretty sure my opinion of the first novel will be changing as I progress through the series.

My Rating: 3.5/5

The Shadow of the Torturer is the first quarter of the Book of the New Sun, and it definitely feels like a piece of a larger work.  Very little is resolved by the time one reaches the abrupt end of the novel, and I’m sure many of the subplots will play a larger role in the future novels.  The story seemed to wander from scene to scene in a dreamlike fashion, which was intensified by the detached, musing style of the narrator and protagonist, Severian of the guild of torturers.  The individual scenes were often delightfully strange, leaving me more interested in the world than in the story’s amoral main character.  I’m curious to see how this series will turn out, and how my opinion of it might change as I learn more about the world and larger story!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Review: Never Let Me Go, Book and Film

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, Published: Faber and Faber (2005), Awards Nominated: Arthur C. Clarke Award Never Let Me Go, directed by Mark Romanek (2010)

 This review is going to be a little different from my usual pattern, since I’m simultaneously reviewing the novel Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro, and the movie adaptation Never Let Me Go, by director Mark Romanek.  The focus will be on comparisons between the two representations of the story, so I will have to discuss the content of the story in some detail.  This means, there will be some spoilers of Never Let Me Go, both book and movie version, in this review. 

I don’t think there’s any way to talk about the story without giving away the central mystery of the plot, which seemed fairly obvious from the beginning, in any case. Never Let Me Go portrays a society in which human clones are used as organ donors, to support the health of ‘normal’ people.  The story is a personal memoir from the point of view of Kathy, a woman who grew up in a kind of boarding school known as Hailsham, with her friends Ruth and Tommy.  Kathy builds her personal story slowly out of handfuls of the memories that are in some way significant to her.  They are mostly moments that in some small way define her, the people close to her, her relationships, and her understanding of the world and her role in it.

While I enjoyed the subtlety of this method of revealing the story, I think it’s understandable that this doesn’t exactly work in a film. The film stayed relatively true to the events of the novel, but it seemed to streamline the plot by centering it on the love triangle between Kathy, Ruth and Tommy.  The romance element was definitely present in the novel, but I don’t think it had quite the same prominence.  Some details in the novel, such as the significance of the fictional song, “Never Let Me Go”, were changed to fit more into the romance angle.  In the novel, the song and its cassette had several different meanings to Kathy and others throughout her life, and I would have liked for a little more of that to have made it into the movie.
Never Let Me Go, Song
“She's not thinking about a boy, honest.”

While Never Let Me Go was not an incredibly long novel (288 pages), there was still much more story than could be shown in a 103 minute film.  The novel hit most of the major points of Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy's lives, but I felt like there was often not quite enough to give the scenes the context they had in the novel.  This seemed most apparent to me in their early lives, possibly because their early days at Hailsham shaped so much of their future. For instance, Hailsham culture, and the extreme importance the students and teachers placed on ‘being creative’, was a huge influence in the development of the good-natured, easily angered Tommy.  Missing the full sense of how his lack of artistic ability stressed him early in life, I felt like something was missing from the understanding of Tommy as a whole.

Never Let Me Go, Hailsham
“A happy home for happy future donors.”

In terms of the other main characters, I thought Ruth’s personality translated fairly well to the screen, but the story lacked some of the moments that showed her personal vulnerabilities. I was a little puzzled by the portrayal of Kathy as a shy, socially awkward girl.  It’s possible that she just seems very different when viewed from inside her head than she does when viewed externally.  I would have described Kathy as quiet, extremely observant, compassionate, and good at parsing social situations. I think it makes sense for the movie to take a different, simpler approach to the characters than the novel, though, and I think the acting really helped to bring the movie’s version of the characters to life.

 The darker themes may have seemed to take a backseat to romance in the movie, but they were definitely not entirely absent.  The story still pointed to the parallels of the clones’ experience of life to our own, and it also explored the different reactions the characters have to the inevitability of their early death throughout their lives.  It may also seem strange, at first glance, that there was no grand clone rebellion or escape plan, but I think this is because Kathy and the others are simply like ordinary people. They had a relatively comfortable life, it had a purpose, and it contained everyone and everything that they knew and loved.  I think that there are many people who wouldn't risk leaving a familiar life, even if it didn't promise them a long life-span. In the case of the clones, their community was also pretty closed, such that they had almost no interaction with those outside of their situation.  The internal culture of their community, and their unfamiliarity with the outside world probably contributed to keeping them quietly imprisoned. This mindset is not one I have often encountered in science fiction, and I felt that the sense of it was portrayed with eloquence, particularly in the novel.

Kathy and Tommy
“An expressive face can be worth a thousand words”

In both romance and other aspects, Never Let Me Go is an emotional, introspective story, and it is a credit to the actors that they were able to bring so much of that across onscreen.  I enjoyed the quiet expressiveness of the actors, and I think that the effectiveness of the story was enhanced in many places by the human connection afforded by telling the story in film. I read the novel before watching the movie, and in this case, I think it improved the experience of both.  I’m glad that I read the novel first, because knowing too many details in advance might have made me impatient with the slow discovery of Kathy’s life.  While watching the movie, my knowledge of the novel filled in the gaps with the details that weren’t included.  Altogether, I think the movie was a pretty faithful adaptation of a profoundly sad, but thought-provoking novel.  I would recommend interested readers or viewers to experience both versions, but to read the novel first.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Read-Along: The Kingdom of Gods, by N.K. Jemisin, Part 5 [END]

Welcome to the final post in the read-along of N.K. Jemisin's The Kingdom of Gods!  This post covers through the end of the book, and questions were provided by Violin in a Void. I have had a lot of fun participating in these read-alongs of Jemisin's books, and I hope there are more books that we can all read together and discuss in the future! My post has been sadly delayed a few days, due to unexpected complications in my offline life (including the tragic deaths of two laptops!).  As always, beware of spoilers below!

1. How do you feel about they way the relationship between Sieh, Deka and Shahar developed? How might this affect them as the Three of a new realm?

It seems like Sieh was unconsciously modeling their relationship after the Three, in that they loved each other, but there was plenty of petty relationship drama.  I hope that doesn’t spark a new God’s War in Sieh’s new universe, and that Shahar does not go the way of Itempas if she feels lonely.  It's possible that they got all their drama out while human, and maybe now they can settle down and be good rulers of the universe.

2. The series as a whole and this novel in particular is full of parents, and child-parent relationships often play major roles in the plot and characterisation. Is there anything that stood out for you? Any other thoughts on the theme? 

Hm, I suppose there was the general idea that parents have to recognize when their children need to grow up and take over their own universe.  Also, through Kahl/Sieh and Remath/Dekarta, that neglect automatically makes you a bad parent, no matter what else you do.  In other relationships, it seems like it was showing that 'being a loving parent' is not the same thing as just loving your child in your heart.  

3. Can you sympathise at all with Kahl's desire for revenge or was it just too insane?

I suppose he had spent all that time all alone in a pocket universe, so he had little else besides his anger and loneliness to sustain him.  I can also see why he would have very little stake in this universe, since he’d barely ever been in it before.  Destroying it might not have seemed like a big deal to him.

4. "Nature is cycles, patterns, repetition." What do you think of the way this idea plays into the plot and worldbuilding?

While there were cycles, patterns, and repetition, we also saw that things don’t have to repeat in exactly the same way.  Because Itempas is capable of some change, for instance, there may not be another God’s War.  Because Sieh was, in the end, willing to grow up, he was able to defuse the first potential ‘war’ in his little group of three (which would have involved Dekarta killing his sister).

5. Are you satisfied with the way everything turned out?

When Sieh died, I was pretty sad.  But he was the narrator, so I assumed he must have continued in some form.  I wonder if that’s the only way he actually could grow up; being true to his nature by playing one last, massive trick.  That was also probably the mostly peaceful possible way to dethrone the Arameri, something that has been sorely needed for thousands of years.  Shahar was the perfect one to destroy her family’s power.

6. Now that we've finished the series, what do you think of it as a whole? How doesThe Kingdom of Gods compare to the first two books?

The novels’ stories stand alone pretty well, but I think it is stronger when read as a trilogy.  The first established the world, the second showed it from the point of view of a demon commoner, and the third from the point of view of a godling, so while it was the same world, there was always something new.  I enjoyed each book more than the one before! 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Review: Fairyland by Paul J. McAuley

Fairyland by Paul J. McAuley
Published : Avon/Gollancz (1995)
Awards Won : Arthur C. Clarke and John W. Campbell 
Awards Nominated : British Science Fiction Association

The Book :

“Before he met the brilliant, hypnotic child Milena, Alex Sharkey had never played with "dolls"—blue-skinned, gengineered lifeforms designed for work, amusement, or destruction. But the underground gene-hacker is seduced by a megalomaniacal little girl's dream of providing the soulless genetic constructs with free thought and a future—and he unwittingly unleashes a plague of madness on the world.

Now there's a void in his life and memory that must be refilled, but it means pursuing the dangerous sentient species he helped sire from the ruins of a Magic Kingdom through a wasted Europe. It is Alex Sharkey's last chance and the last hope remaining for a once-dominant human race.”

This is the first book I’ve read by Paul McAuley, and one that I started in 2013 and finished in 2014, making it ineligible for my 2014 Challenges.

My Thoughts:

There’s plenty to unpack in the novel Fairyland, from the bleak, complex future setting, the mix of cyberpunk and fantasy tone, and even the structure of the narrative.  Fairyland shows a violent, unstable future, where identity is a very malleable concept.  Nanotechnology exists that can easily manipulate people’s beliefs, motivations and memories.  The commercially produced “dolls” seem to have no identities at all, at least until their programming is illegally modified to turn them into “fairies”, with a fragile sentience.  The world was often disturbing, but I also found it very interesting to see such a dark portrayal of what humans would do with these kinds of future technology.

The main plot of the stoy involves Alex’s search for the little girl Milena, across several countries.   The story is split into three sections, each with their own separate subplots and additional viewpoint characters.  The first part is a gangster story set in London, where Alex first becomes involved with “fairies”.  The second is set near Paris, where a group of child-abducting fairies have turned the abandoned Disneyland resort into a nightmare.  In the third section, the quest draws to its conclusion.  While Alex’s search for Milena runs through all three sections, they sometimes seemed a little disconnected.  Many of the characters vanish when their section ends, and their subplots don’t always seem to have much bearing on the central story.  However, the details that are introduced through their experiences—about the fairies, Milena’s possible intentions, and the manipulation of identity--help build up to the final conclusion.

It’s with the fairies that a kind of fantasy atmosphere is folded into a rather hard science fiction novel. The fairies have a scientific explanation for their existence, but they also follow many cultural ideas about fairy kind.  For instance, these fairies are cruel, enigmatic and capricious, they steal children, they have ‘glamours’, and (through future technology) they can induce hallucinations of a fantastical world in their victims.  It is with the fairies that the story reached its most nightmarishly surreal. Unfortunately, though, the way they were portrayed made the fairies seem so distant and unsympathetic that it was difficult to feel positively about their rise to sentience.

In addition to the fairies, I found it rather hard to sympathize with most of the characters of the novel. Alex Sharkey is the primary character, and he is a man with a geas laid upon him (by nanotechnology) to follow the genius girl Milena.  This completely changes his life and his goals, and it bothered me that both the story and his character development were dominated by such an external factor.  I found some of the minor viewpoint characters (including a deserter with a ware-personality and a compassionate aid worker) to be more interesting, but their time in the story seemed too brief.  Overall, I think there is a lot to enjoy about Fairyland, but I never really felt a strong enough connection with the characters to become deeply enough invested in the story.

My Rating: 3/5
Fairyland was a novel that I appreciated more than I enjoyed.  It takes place in a bleak but fascinating future, where peoples’ minds are easily manipulated by nanotechnology and blue-skinned gengineered “dolls” are in common use.   The story follows Alex’s pursuit of the genius girl Milena, after they jointly uplift these dolls into sentient “fairies”.  While the ideas were really interesting, I always felt a little too detached from the characters, including the fairies, to ever become really drawn into the story.  Though it’s not exactly to my current tastes, I think it is a book that was worth reading.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Read-Along: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, Part 10 (END)

This is the final post for the read-along of The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson.  It's been a lot of fun, and I've had a lot of fun discussing with everyone who has participated!  This week's questions cover through the end of the book, and are provided by On Starships and Dragonwings.  As always, beware of spoilers below!

1. Syl's true nature as an honorspren has been revealed! She once again asks the interesting question: are spren attracted to their element or do they create that element? What do you think? Do you think there are more honorspren or is Syl unique?

Right now, I think they are attracted to and amplify their element. For instance, I don’t think having Syl as a companion is the only reasonable Kaladin is honorable.  I think his personal sense of honor attracted her, and her presence is driving him towards greater nobility.  I think there are more honorspren, and I bet that the Radiants used to commonly have them. 

It’s a little telling that Syl is the only one we’ve ever seen.  The world isn’t a very honorable place, is it?  Maybe Dalinar will soon be able to attract his own honorspren!

2. The Parshendi had a whole host of reactions to Kaladin's power, mostly including fear and awe, though they also seemed to recognize him or his power. Why do you think that is? How do you think the Parshendi hiring Szeth plays into it?

We’ve figured out that the Parshendi have some sort of hive mind, such that they communicate and coordinate over distance.  I think it’s very possible that their memory therefore stretches back a lot further than human memory.  They probably remember the cycles of Desolation, and the Radiants that they once fought.  I can imagine they would remember those deadly Radiants quite vividly, and be a bit shocked to have to face them once again.
I’m not sure I’m convinced that the Parshendi ever did direct Szeth.  They supposedly claimed responsibility for the assassination, but I can’t remember if we ever got incontrovertible evidence.  It could easily have been someone else (like Taravangian or the ghostbloods), who didn’t want Alethkar to make an alliance with Voidbringers.  If the Parshendi really did direct Szeth, then maybe the Great Parshendi Mind has a drive to destroy humanity, and that seemed the easiest way to fracture a kingdom.  They may not have expected Elhokar to be able to hold things together.

3. Dalinar makes some pretty intense decisions towards the end of this book, including trading his Shardblade to free the bridgemen and completely changing how he wants to deal with the highprinces. Do you think these were good decisions?

I am totally behind Dalinar on both of these decisions.  I’m starting to wonder about the Shardblades… are they originally weapons of the Voidbringers, repurposed for human use?  If so, are they somehow inherently corrupt, and lead to corruption?  Maybe the Thrill is part of that? We’ve heard also of Dawnshards, which I thought were the same thing, but now I’m not so sure.

Regardless, I support Kaladin’s decision not to take up the Shards just as much as I support Dalinar’s decision to trade them for the lives of the bridgemen.  Even if I weren’t starting to get suspicious of the Shards, I am glad we have some heroes who value human life over deadly toys.

As for the highprinces, they have the moral development of particularly mean, small children with extremely destructive weapons as toys.  It’s about time someone took them into hand.  I hope Dalinar can force some basic decency into them, if not honor.

4. A lot of mysteries surrounding Jasnah are finally revealed! Do you think that she is right and that most Soulcasters do work? Why do you think Shallan and Jasnah both happen to have this soulcasting power? What is Shadesmar really?

I think she’s probably right.  If all soulcasting was a personal skill, why would an artifabrian community even exist?  It’s been mentioned that the Radiants had different kinds of natural abilities.  I think this might be one of them, which means both Shallan and Jasnah are going to be Radiants!  I think Navani may know about Jasnah’s ability, which could explain her comment about being afraid of her daughter. 

I am so thrilled that Shallan has decided to prioritize Jasnah over her family.  I get the feeling she’s going to have to tell Jasnah about the Shardblade relatively soon, too.
About Shadesmar, someone suggested it could be a visualization of interacting with matter on a molecular or atomic level.  I think that’s a pretty neat idea.

5. Szeth is once again on a mission, but this time we really don't want him to succeed! What do you think is going to happen with him and Dalinar in the next book? Do you think Szeth and Kaladin will recognize each other's power?

That will be one dramatic showdown.  Given that Kaladin is now the head of Dalinar’s personal guard, there’s bound to be one.  I think they will definitely recognize that they use the same power.  I think that either Kaladin will finally kill Szeth, or it will be the final thing that breaks Szeth’s binding to tradition.  Maybe Kaladin could convert Szeth to his side.

6. We finally have a better idea where the Parshmen and Parshendi came from! What do you think the real history is there? How did people possibly enslave the Voidbringers and why are the Parshendi now changing?

I think we had all suspected that the Parshmen were not as peaceful as they seem.  Maybe there are different ‘hive minds’ of the Parsh-people, and humans managed to reprogram only one of them into enslavement.  Then the Parshendi are maybe driven by a different group consciousness.

7. The last chapter with the Almighty was pretty crazy. What do you think about this vision? What do you think this means for Dalinar's future and the world's (universe's??) future? What is Odium really?

I did not predict this at all! I suppose it answers the question of why the Almighty said to trust Sadeas. He actually wasn’t ever responding to conversation.  From that last bit, I’m wondering if by “unite them”, he meant all the realms of the cosmere, not the highprinces of Alethkar.  As for Odium, I supposed maybe he is some kind of evil god?  He is at least more powerful than the being who created the world where our characters live.

Also, I think we may have finally gotten some information about what the highstorms are.  It sounds like it may have simply been the message system, set on repeat, that the Almighty left as he was murdered, for those who could hear.  That poem from the very end, I think, is referring to the highstorms as a medium to transferring messages, and to the death of the Almighty.

Other things:

--Kaladin’s perspective on the Parshendi may be the most observation anyone has bothered to make during this war.  We know they fight in pairs and they coordinate by their music.  I thought it was interesting that Kaladin noticed they also fought with honor—not attacking incapacitated enemies.  I wonder if the Parshendi, as a people, aren’t really that into their role as Voidbringers.

--Now we know what those morbid pre-death word collections are all about, and I did not see that coming.  Taravangian is not only an intelligent person, he’s horrible as well!  He claims he’s studying the death words and killing world leaders for the good of the world.  I can’t see how wiping out all the leaders could unify the world.  I think it would just destabalize the world, unless he has something very dramatic planned next.  Also, I would be more on his side if he were simply recording people's final words, rather than draining poor people of blood just to listen to them die. I don’t think he can really justify that. Journey before destination, after all.

--In the end, I am more impressed by Shallan’s intellect than Jasnah’s.  Jasnah didn’t even notice anything was going on with Shallan, and accidentally soulcast away the poison remedy instead of the poison.  It seems like she would have at least guessed the bread would be poisoned, since it was well known that she didn’t take jam. Shallan, on the other hand, successfully worked out plenty of Jasnah’s secrets!  I think Shallan may be much more of an asset in her research than Jasnah could have expected.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Read-Along: The Kingdom of Gods by N.K. Jemisin, Part 4

Welcome to week 3 of the read-along of N.K. Jemisin's The Kingdom of Gods. Questions this week were provided by Book Bound, and cover chapters 14-17. Beware of spoilers below!

1. Nahadoth said „You cannot remain in mortal flesh much longer. It’s changing you“ to Sieh. Do you think Nahadoth knows what is happening to Sieh? And what could happen to Sieh?

I don’t think he really does know what’s happening to Sieh.  I think that was kind of connected to Sieh’s realization that he was growing and changing, and his fear that he wouldn’t be Naha’s favorite son anymore. Also, Sieh is growing up, which is antithetical to his nature.

It seemed like a lot of this section was about how even gods (like Itempas) are capable of change, so maybe Sieh will be able to change his nature instead of dying.

2. Sieh half-dies and suddenly comes back with some other magic (something about the universe or other). What do you make of it & Why is it only Shahar, Dekarta and Sieh that remember?

We have a new triad! Or a fourth major god?  We learned from Nsana and Lil that what Sieh really wanted was to be one of the three.  Not necessarily for the power, but because of how intensely they belonged with one another.  He’s lonely, and he wants to belong with people who love him.

Though it was by accident, he built his own group together with Shahar and Dekarta. In order to join his own little trio, though, he had to become mortal.  I think we may have seen that he also changed Shar and Deka, in the ceremony that changed him.  They wanted a friend, and he wanted a trio like Enefa/Nahadoth/Itempas.  Thus, while he became more mortal, they became more divine in some way. 

We’ve heard from the conversation with Kahl that creating a god requires many details to line up with perfect timing.  Given that Sieh was already starting to change, and that he had that weird resonance with the Maelstrom, maybe the time was just about right to create a new 3-in-1 god out of him and his friends. What they did in changing reality to save Sieh, was clearly way above the level of godling, so it makes sense that the only ones who might be able to remember are the three of them and the three greater gods. 

3. What do you think of Yeine’s offer to Remath? 

I have to admit that I was not expecting such a deal.  I wonder if Yeine actually gets anything out of being worshipped by the Arameri, other than her own delight.  Sieh mentioned that being prayed to felt like friendly encouragement, so I wonder if a larger-scale state-instituted worship, like the former Itempas worship, actually makes a god more powerful.
4. Thoughout the whole book, but more in the last couple of chapters, we’ve seen the Arameri have become more human-like, and especially Remath has been more emotional. Do you think they’ve always been like this or that there is some trigger that is making them behave differently?

I don’t think there’s anything magical about it.  I think it’s pretty much just because they no longer have the dominating power of the Enefadeh. Now they have to interact more with others, and persuade where they could have once just commanded.  Also, I suppose watching your family be murdered, as well dealing with the stress of being a power in decline, might make it a little harder for them to hide their emotions. 

5. The Echo Palace has been built! And Shahar and Dekarta are „safe“ Why do you think Remath  is abandoning the normal source of Arameri power?

By the normal source of Arameri power, do you mean Itempas? I suppose Itempas is not really in a position to help out the Arameri right now, so it makes sense that they would want Yeine as their new patron.

6. Sieh has just left with Itempas, Nahadoth and Yeine… How will they save him? 

I’m still not altogether convinced they can.  I get the feeling they’re going to need Shar and Deka to help heal Sieh, in the end.  We’ll see, though!