Monday, July 20, 2015

Read-Along: Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone, Part 1

I have joined a read-along of Max Gladstone’s Full Fathom Five, which starts today!  I apologize for not posting an announcement in advance, but time has gotten the better of me this week.  Anyhow, an excellent group of bloggers have been reading the Craft sequence together, the first two of which (Three Parts Dead and Two Serpents Rise) I have reviewed here on Tethyan Books.  I’m excited to join them for the third book!  If you’d like to also join in, we have a group on goodreads, here. Since this is the kick-off post, here is the premise of the novel from goodreads:

“On the island of Kavekana, Kai builds gods to order, then hands them to others to maintain. Her creations aren’t conscious and lack their own wills and voices, but they accept sacrifices, and protect their worshippers from other gods—perfect vehicles for Craftsmen and Craftswomen operating in the divinely controlled Old World.

When Kai sees one of her creations dying and tries to save her, she’s grievously injured—then sidelined from the business entirely, her near-suicidal rescue attempt offered up as proof of her instability. But when Kai gets tired of hearing her boss, her coworkers, and her ex-boyfriend call her crazy, and starts digging into the reasons her creations die, she uncovers a conspiracy of silence and fear—which will crush her, if Kai can’t stop it first.”

The schedule for Full Fathom Five is as follows:

Week 1: July 20 Ch 1-13 (pg 102) - Allie (Me!)
Week 2: July 27 Ch 14-32 (pg 204) - Lynn at Lynn’s Books
Week 3: August 3 Ch 33-50 (pg 302) - Heather at The Bastard Title
Week 4: August 10 Ch 50-62 (pg 382) - Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow

As you can see, I’m the host this week, and I’ve put together some questions on the first 13 chapters.  Bear in mind that spoilers up to chapter 13 are fair game in the questions and answers below.  In a couple of places, there may also be mild spoilers of Three Parts Dead, and I will try to label those for convenience. In related news, the latest Craft novel, Last First Snow, just came out on July 14th, and it is entirely possible that it will be the target of another read-along sometime soon. Now, on to the discussion!

1) Kai kicks off the story by risking her life in an attempt to save the idol Seven Alpha. Why do you think she chose to try? Do you think idols are truly non-sentient?

I feel like this is going to be an important point as we move forward in the story, but I don’t completely understand the motivation for her actions right now.  I had first thought she was worried for her friend, Mara, but it seemed like the idol’s death was going to be more of a setback than a career-ender for her. Then, I thought that maybe Kai suspected the idol of being sentient, but she was really surprised when she heard it speak.  I considered that maybe she was just confident that she would succeed, but she didn’t seem fazed by the fact that she almost died in the attempt.  Now, I’m wondering if Jace might be right, and she is engaging in risky behavior due to the pain of her breakup with Claude. It seems like it must be more than that, though.

I believe that the idols are sentient, mostly because that would make their whole industry morally questionable in a way that would be interesting for the story.  Also, I believe in Kai’s conviction that Seven Alpha did speak!

2) I think this is the first time we've seen idols, and they have their similarities and differences to gods and craftsmen. Do you think they serve a useful purpose? If you were in this world, would you prefer faith, Craft, or idols?

Of course these are connected in some ways, since Craftspeople use idols as tools. [SPOILER TPD] The idols remind me uncomfortably of Justice from Three Parts Dead, and the damaging effect that Justice had on her followers. [/SPOILER]  I can see how the idols might be necessary, since so much of their world involves contracts with deific power, and many of the deities were killed in the war.

For myself, I like the idea of Craft, but I’m not sure I would want to become a skeleton Craftswoman.  I also think the idols are vaguely creepy at this point, and I’m not sure about the ethics of making them (this depends on whether they are really sentient or not).  I am a Christian person, so I would like to think, in this fantasy world, that I would be off in some peaceful corner untouched by the Wars, keeping my faith.  

3) I found it interesting that priests/priestesses are able to change or reform their bodies in the pool, during their initiation. If it were possible, would you want to make use of this power or not?

Yes, absolutely!  I like myself in general, but there are specific flaws I have often fantasized about magically correcting (Perhaps this is a common thing for women to think about?).  For instance, as a not-so-private example, I would love to correct my nearsightedness/astigmatism.  I know there’s a surgery for that now, but it is obviously not as safe and permanent as magic would be :D.
4) A few familiar faces show up from Three Parts Dead, Cat and Ms. Kevarian! Is this how you would have expected them to be living, after the events of that novel? [SPOILERS FOR TPD ALL THROUGH ANSWER]

It was nice to see Ms. Kevarian again, though she seemed very cold.  I guess that’s more or less the norm for her, but I’m a little surprised she’s an antagonist here.  As for Cat, I am full of sadness.  I was hoping she would be able to turn her life around and master her addictions.  Instead, it looks like her new goddess was too demanding, and it was destroying her.  I hope she can get back on her feet, finally, by the end of this book.  

5) Izza is in a difficult situation; she wants to take care of the other street children, but she also wants to protect herself. What do you think of how she is attempting to meet both goals? Do you think she was right to stop leading the stories and rituals for the other children?

I think she is extremely young to have to balance her own needs and the needs of her ‘children’ like this, and I’m pretty sad about the crappy hand life has dealt her so far.  I agree with her that she needs to get off the island-- the penitents sound awful! I also think she has to realize that all her pickpocketing will not help the children for the long term. I think her heart is in the right place, at least, and I respect that she feels obligated to try to care for the people she has to leave behind.

I got the feeling that she stopped the stories because she felt that the hope they gave the younger kids was false.  She just didn’t have the strength to be their source of hope anymore.  I don’t know if I can say whether it was a good decision or not, at this point.  There’s not much the kids can do to improve their situation right now, so I think they needed the stories for comfort.

6) There is a lot that is hinted near the end of this section, with the line "Howl, Bound World" and the poet Edmond Margot. What do you think it is that ties together Seven Alpha, Kai, Izza, and Margot?

I do not know yet, but speculation is fun!  Izza and the other children followed a goddess that they said was dead, the Blue Lady.  Is it possible that this deity is somehow mostly powerless, but is not actually dead?  Then she is watching over Izza and the others, even if she can do little to help.  

When Izza is captured, something contacts Margot and begs him to help her.  That same something apparently inspires his poetry, and is responsible for the “Howl, Bound World” line.  Maybe the Blue Lady is in some way connected to the idols in the pool (who are maybe the bound souls of mostly-dead gods or something?), and she is only able to communicate with Margot for some reason.  Also, the penitents must be involved somehow, but I haven’t worked that detail out.  Anyway, this is all wild speculation, and I’m excited to get new clues in the next section!

Other Things:

--I still don’t understand what exactly happened in Glebland (politically), but it’s horrible that Izza has already suffered so much.

--Wow, Claude.  How could he think going into his ex-girlfriend’s house uninvited and waiting for her to arrive home from the hospital was a good idea?  He needs to back way off, and she needs to take his key.  On the other hand, I think he really did want to help, and just somehow didn’t realize how inappropriate that was.

--I’m not completely clear about what penitents do to their occupants, but I’m guessing it’s constant torture of some kind.  I don’t really want to find out, so I hope Margot saves Izza before anything horrible happens!

--Jace seems pretty cool.  I know Kai does not appreciate it right now, but I think that was a really good solution for what to do about her.  I especially liked his comment that a personality profile was a guideline for growth, not a list of limitations.

Other Participants:


  1. This weekend was crazy so I wasn't able to catch up in time for this readalong, but I'm definitely going to be participating in next week's questions along with my co-blogger Wendy (who so awesomely put up her answers today!)

    I've read up to chapter 4 so far though, and some of these are excellent questions. Being able to change myself in the pools is a very tempting concept. Not sure I'd change anything huge either though, just little fixes (your vision example is good, I'd like that too!)

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    1. Thanks, and I'll look forward to seeing your reactions next week! I'm getting the impression most of us in the read-along wear glasses, because a lot of people are mentioning that in their answers.

  2. I wish I'd joined in with this - although it probably would have been a bit much. I just don't want to fall behind with the series! So, drat!!!!
    Lynn :D

    1. I'll miss you in the read-along! I think there may be a Last First Snow one later on!