Saturday, April 30, 2016

Short Fiction: March 2016

Continuing my plan to read more short fiction in 2016, I’d like to discuss today the notable stories I read that were published in the month of March.  These all come from the Science Fiction & Fantasy magazine or free sources of fiction online.  For stories that are available for free, I will provide a link to make it easier to find them.

Recalled to Service by Alter S. Reiss (Novelette): A necromancer and revolutionary searches for the hero that she resurrected and lost.  I would love to read more fiction set in this world, and I liked its unusual take on necromancy.  It seemed to me that a lot of the story was about the balance between loyalty and coercion, and the importance of choice.

A Mother’s Arms by Sarina Dorie (Novelette): An alien mother loses her children, but her generosity of spirit leads her to take in an injured, crash-landed human as her new child.  The story is told from the point of view of the tentacled alien, which I thought was nicely done.  It was a story that was at times sad, funny, and sweet.   

Sparks Fly by Rich Larson (Short Story): Arthur has a supernatural disability that causes him to unintentionally fry nearby electronics, which is something that’s hard to reveal on a first date. This brief, happy story seems to be about the anxieties and potential pitfalls of dating with an invisible disability.

Red in Tooth and Cog by Cat Rambo (Novelette): Discarded, self-repairing appliances live in an urban park, where they have developed an unusual ecosystem.  A woman happens across this little hidden world, and must decide whether it is worth preserving.  I loved the detail that went into developing the society of the small machines, even though I don’t think it’s particularly plausible.

The Liar by John P. Murphy (Novella): This one is a small town ghost story, featuring a man who has the unusual ability of affecting reality through lying.  When the main character notices a pattern in local deaths, he sets out to find the origin and stop it.  I liked the small town setting, and the hesitant courtship between the main character and the local pastor, Julie.  It was also interesting to see the limits to his lying ability, and to see how he could use it to help others.      

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Review: Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald

Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald
Published: Gollancz/Tor, 2015
Series: Book 1 of Luna
Awards Nominated: BSFA Award

The Book:

The Moon wants to kill you. Maybe it will kill you when the per diem for your allotted food, water, and air runs out, just before you hit paydirt. Maybe it will kill you when you are trapped between the reigning corporations--the Five Dragons--in a foolish gamble against a futuristic feudal society. On the Moon, you must fight for every inch you want to gain. And that is just what Adriana Corta did.

As the leader of the Moon's newest "dragon," Adriana has wrested control of the Moon's Helium-3 industry from the Mackenzie Metal corporation and fought to earn her family's new status. Now, in the twilight of her life, Adriana finds her corporation--Corta Helio--confronted by the many enemies she made during her meteoric rise. If the Corta family is to survive, Adriana's five children must defend their mother's empire from her many enemies... and each other.”

Surprise, I do actually still write book reviews!  One of Ian McDonald’s other novels that I have read is The Dervish House, which made me want to visit Istanbul. I still hope I can one day, since it sounds like a beautiful city, rich in culture and history.  Anyway, though it also had a very vivid setting, Luna most definitely did not make me want to visit the moon!

My Thoughts:

I’ve heard this book often described as Game of Thrones on the moon, but it seems to me to be closer to a multicultural, lunar Godfather (even to the extent of featuring five families). The original lunar colonists did not set about to shape a new society, but instead allowed their new world to be shaped by market forces and corporations that form around, essentially, mafia families.  The end result is a society with no criminal justice system, where charisma, money, physical violence and connections can get one out of any tough spot.  The only form of law is contract law--which contributes to making lunar relationships strangely businesslike--and contract conflicts seem to be resolved primarily by razzle-dazzle and single combat.  This all makes for one of the more unusual societies I’ve seen fiction, but it’s also one I would never want to live in.  

My favorite character in this novel was, by far, the elderly Adriana Corta.  I loved the chapters where she narrated her extraordinary life: her immigration to the moon, her romantic entanglements, and the building of her empire.  It was fascinating to see lunar society in these early stages, and Adriana’s story was full of intense risk, loss, and success.  Her children, on the other hand, seemed petty and overly fond of posturing.  Unfortunately, the younger generation makes up most of the story’s viewpoint characters.  This did not help me to become emotionally engaged. On the positive side, I enjoyed how the five families represented such different cultures, with origins from Ghana, Australia, Russia, China and Brazil. I enjoyed reading about Adriana’s childhood in Brazil, and in seeing the ways the younger generations, which can never physically return to Earth, hold to their cultural heritage.  We spend most of the time with the Brazilian family in this first novel, but it would also have been fun to get more insight into the other families.

The story built up very slowly, and seemed sometimes to not have much focus.  It seemed to bounce from one subplot to another--Adriana’s amazing life story, Lucasinho’s teenage rebellion and sexual conquests, Rafa’s relationship problems, Ariel’s career, and so on.  However, the story eventually comes together into a climactic final act.  It was an exciting conclusion, which both resolves this novel and points the reader toward what to expect in future novels.  On the other hand, I felt that the way some of the characters resorted to violence diminished the meaning of the maneuvering that had taken place earlier in the novel.  At least, it was very effective in showing how close to the surface chaos and violence lies in the kind of society the five families have created.  Though I did enjoy aspects of Luna: New Moon, I doubt I’ll be continuing on to the rest of the series.

My Rating: 3/5

Luna: New Moon is a family drama about essentially mafia on the moon.  It takes place after the moon has been colonized by humans, and a society dominated by five crime families/corporations has been established. The five families represent interesting selection of different Earth cultures, with the main focus on a family originating from Brazil.  For me, the history of the colonization of the moon, as related through the matriarch Adriana Corta’s life story, was the most fascinating part of the novel.  I was less into the family squabbles that engaged the younger generations of Cortas, which took up the bulk of the novel.  The story didn’t seem to have much focus in the beginning, but it did eventually culminate in an exciting conflict between families.  I think this is ultimately not the series for me, but it has a lot to offer readers who have more interest in organized crime stories and family dramas.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Read-Along: Kushiel's Justice by Jacqueline Cary, Part 6

Welcome to week 6 of the read-along of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Justice. This week’s questions cover chapters 38 through 46, and are provided by Emily of Emma Wolf.  Beware of spoilers beyond this point! This week, we deal with more of the aftermath of last week’s tragedy.

1. At some point before she died, Dorelei made Urist promise to bring Imriel back to the City of Elua and Sidonie for fear that, if he didn’t go, he would be driven to bitterness. What do you think of this promise? Do you agree with Dorelei that Imriel would turn bitter?

I think this was an interesting promise. In a way, Dorelei was acknowledging and approving his love for Sidonie, and giving him permission to continue his life without her.  That was an extremely selfless and compassionate gesture, and it makes me miss Dorelei even more.

If she hadn’t had Urist make this promise, I can see a few things that might have happened.  Imriel might have insisted on going for vengeance before seeing Sidonie, and then only have returned to her after he felt his obligation to Dorelei was complete. I don’t think he would have turned bitter, but I can see the risk there.  Alternatively, he might have returned to Sidonie anyway, and have lost the respect of his Alban men (assuming he did this without Urist’s support).  I think there would have been a lot of guilt and self-hatred mixed into his return with Sidonie, if he hadn’t done it knowing he had Dorelei’s blessing.

2. Imriel questions whether there was no way to escape the fate of his son foreseen by the Maghuin Dhonn. What do you think?

It seems to me that the Maghuin Dhonn successfully changed the future with every action they took.  In general, they seemed to make things progressively worse, but the important thing is that they did change the future.  That means that the future is not set in stone, but can be altered by the decisions people make.  If they had approached the situation with more compassion, and had taken Imriel and Dorelei into their confidence, then the future they saw could have been avoided.  I think the real issue was that the Maghuin Dhonn needed to be allies, not adversaries, of Imriel and his family.

I also liked Imriel’s thoughts on the matter.  I had wondered why Imriel would leave the child, but I hadn’t considered that he might have been dead in Morwen’s future.  We saw him leaving the child in the vision, but not what happened afterward.  Maybe this future-Imriel believed Dorelei’s death in childbirth was the work of the Maghuin Dhonn, and he went chasing vengeance and dying in the process. Then I could see how his son might grow up alone, sad, and embittered against the Maghuin Dhonn for taking his parents from him. 

3. Urist explains the politics underlying the matter to the other Cruithne by noting that Imriel was good enough for Dorelei and Alba, good enough to father Alban heirs, but not good enough for Terre d’Ange. What do you think of his observation?

Urist is a master of spin, and thank goodness he’s on Imriel’s side! I do think he has a point, though, and hopefully that argument will also help convince Ysandre eventually.  The main purpose of that line of argument was to make supporting Imriel’s love for Sidonie a point of honor among the Albans, instead of letting it feel like a betrayal of Dorelei.

4. We see new places and new peoples. Imriel wonders about the tanner and his wife and their story and how he will never know it. Of all the minor characters we’ve met so far, are there any you wish you knew more about?

Maybe Mavros? He’s a more prominent minor character, but I think the Shahrizai family members are all pretty interesting. Also, I would say Drustan.  He’s a major presence in the entire series, but we really don’t know him very well.

5. What do you think of what’s become of the Yeshuites? Of Micah ben Ximon? Do you think the written word is more open to multiple interpretations than the spoken one, as Urist hints?

I’m glad they seem to have found their place in the cold lands, and good for Micah ben Ximon in becoming legendary.  Let’s add him to the list above of minor characters I’d like to know more about. 

Having dealt with both verbal and written communication breakdowns in modern situations, I completely disagree with Urist.  With written communication, at least it is recorded.  People can argue about interpretation, but the words are undeniable.  Verbal communication also uses words, so it has the exact same problem with multiple interpretations.  The only difference with verbal communication is that the words themselves are arguable as well.  People run into “But you said X.” “No, I didn’t. I said Y.” problems with things that were said mere days before.  If we’re talking about information passed down for generations, I think it’s nearly impossible for the words and meaning to be accurately preserved.  It might seem like oral history is more accurate for those who keep it, simply because there’s no historical record to compare with the latest version of the information.

Other Things:

--I really dislike the idea that Imriel and Sidonie have come up with, that Dorelei’s death was a punishment for their lack of courage in embracing their love.  Do they really think Elua would have an innocent woman and her unborn child mauled to death by a bear, just to teach them a lesson about love?  If so, Elua seems kind of monstrous.  I hope they just mean it in the vague sense of “nothing good ever comes from denying love,” rather than actually believing it was a divine punishment. 
--I hope it doesn’t come back to haunt Imriel later, but I support his decision to destroy Berlik’s bear coat.

--Now we have seen Dutch country!  It was fun to see Imriel trying to muddle his way through with a language he didn’t know very well.  Phedre was entirely too good at languages, so seeing this side of Imriel helps my self-esteem!

--Also, more about horses, I’m kind of amazed with Imriel.  Horseback riding takes a lot out of you, and he was sliced open by a bear.  It must help that the bear didn’t get his legs, but I believe he’s still only had a few months to recover.  Yet, he’s already able to ride for five days straight with minor problems! His bedroom performance was similarly impressive.  I guess people in their twenties bounce back fast? 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Read-Along: Kushiel's Justice by Jacqueline Carey, Week 5

Welcome to week 5 of the read-along of Kushiel’s Justice by Jacqueline Carey.  This week’s questions cover chapters 30-37, and are provided by Susan of Dab of Darkness.  If you’re interested in getting involved in this or other read-alongs, feel free to check out our goodreads group.  

As always, beware of major spoilers in the questions and discussion below!

1) What did you think about Imriel's men leaving him behind on the cattle raid? 

I can see the reasoning behind it, so I don’t see it as any worse than staging the cattle raid in the first place.  Imriel escaping was a close thing, though.  It would have been bad for his reputation if Clunderry had to ransom him back.

2) Alais has done some harmless flirting in this section. What do you make of her request to postpone the wedding to Talorcan a year? Do you think one year will make a difference to either one of them? 

I think she is very young to marry an older man she doesn’t know well, so I support the idea of her waiting a year.  For Talorcan, I don’t see how waiting a year would impact him at all, so I appreciate that he agreed to the delay.  I think that it would have seriously damaged my opinion of him if he’d refused.

As for Alais, she’s young enough that waiting a year could make a major difference for her, even if it doesn’t for him.  In that time, she could train in her dream-foretelling skill and become more confident in her own abilities.  She could also establish a place and identity for herself in Alba.  Then she would be able to approach the marriage with much more strength than she would have had as an untrained teenage dreamer who is new to Alba.  If she really wants to rule the country one day, then she’s going to need to start her marriage with strength!

3) In this section, we experienced two Alban holidays - the Day of the Dead and the Day of Misrule. What stood out to you the most? If you could only celebrate one, which would you pick? 

The Day of Misrule seemed pretty fun, even if it was all for show.  The nobles did not truly serve the servants, they only pantomimed doing so with pre-prepared dishes and such.  I think the Day of the Dead stood out much more to me.  Imriel had not spent much thought on his father before, and I think seeing his ghost provided Imriel with valuable insight about himself and his parents.  If I could celebrate only one, it would certainly be the Day of the Dead.  I don’t think I would be able to give up a chance to see loved ones who have gone, even though it is only briefly.

4) Throughout this section, there is plenty of talk about denying one's own nature - Imriel's talks with Morwen, the chat with the priestess, and even Dorolei and Alais noticing changes in Imriel when his bindings are redone. Getting philosophical, is denying part of your nature good or is it nearly always a bad idea? 

I think it can be good or bad.  There are some things that are in people’s nature that are genuinely harmful to others.  For instance, Imriel’s self-absorption is also a part of his nature, and I think his efforts to be more empathetic to others are good and worthwhile. I think there is a lot of value in recognizing and eventually learning to discard or deny parts of yourself that are not useful or beneficial, just as there is value in recognizing the parts of yourself that are good.

On the other hand, the ollamh’s bindings are far from ideas self-reflection and self-improvement.  I don’t think it is ever good to have a denial of parts of your nature enforced upon you by external magic.  Something like that might be useful for criminals, to control violent behavior, but even then it is not a good solution.  I think things might have gone much differently if Imriel and Dorelei had been given a chance to work through their feelings without supernatural meddling. 

5) Could Imriel have done anything differently to prevent the tragedy of loosing his wife and unborn child? If you were in his shoes, would you have asked for mercy for the Maghuin Donn? 

I don’t think there’s anything Imriel could have done.  Morwen and Berlik could have chosen to not be mind controllers, stalkers, rapists and murderers.  That would have helped.  I think it would also have brought them to a much happier future for the Maghuin Dhonn.  So far, all they seem to have accomplished is to get their people hunted down and killed by their own countrymen, instead of by the monster Imriel’s future son may or may not have become.  In short, their future would have probably been a lot brighter if they hadn’t been able to see it. 

On the second question, I’m pretty sure I would not have asked for mercy.  Waking up to realize all that Morwen and Berlik’s team had done, I can guarantee that I would not have been thinking rationally.  They claimed to speak for the Maghuin Dhonn, and I would have taken them at their word.  I think that I would have eventually considered that the Maghuin Dhonn were not all guilty, though, and I would have agreed to mercy if someone else had pointed that out.  I don’t think this is the kind of decision one should entrust to a seriously injured person who is likely overwhelmed with grief and rage.  I have a lot of respect for Imriel’s ability to see things clearly.

Other Things:

—I was dreading that the love triangle was going to be resolved by Dorelei dying in childbirth, and it looks like that was not far off.  In a narrative sense, I am a little annoyed that Imriel’s situation was resolved for him by an external force.  I wish Imriel had just a bit more agency in this love story.

—Poor Celeste!  She was such a good dog, and did not deserve to die as she did.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Read-Along: Kushiel's Justice by Jacqueline Carey, Part 4

It’s time for week four of the read-along of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Justice, and this week I am the host!  The questions cover chapters 23 through 29, so beware of spoilers below.  If you’re interested in getting involved in this or other group reads, check out our goodreads group.

1) Given the developments since last time, what do you think the Maghuin Donn are after with Imriel?  Could it be related to Dorelei's and Alais's dream? Were Imriel and Dorelei right to refuse their blessing?

I’m baffled by the Maghuin Donn right now.  It was an interesting reveal that the curse was solely for defending themselves from Imriel.  I don’t think he has any intention to do physical harm to the Maghuin Donn, and surely a mind-control curse wouldn’t be much help if it is just danger from the ideologies he’s bringing with him to Alba.

I’m also a little confused about the blessing of the baby.  Morwen just recently expressed a desire to have Imriel’s baby herself. Does she mean she wants to steal his and Dorelei’s child?  Was she trying to seduce him, so that his firstborn would be with the Maghuin Donn?  Given their weirdness around the idea of his children, I don’t blame Imriel and Dorelei for refusing their blessing.  It will be interesting to see what consequences that decision carries later, though.

2) Imriel and Dorelei's relationship is very honest now.  Do you think their plan is a wise one or not?  What do you think of the Alban custom of limited-term marriage?

I’m not sure this is a very good idea.  Right now, they are literally a couple that is only kept together by a baby.  Add in to the mix that Dorelei is in love with Imriel, and Imriel is in love with the idea of having a child, and there’s all kinds of emotional mess.  I can kind of see Imriel’s point that he wants his child to know he cared enough to marry its mother, but does it really mean much if he then leaves a year later?  I guess legally there’s a big difference between the child being born in or out of wedlock, but emotionally does it really matter if the dad stuck around for a year or for only a few months?

I don’t agree with the idea of limited-term marriage, but I can see how it makes sense for political marriages.  If the fact of the marriage is all that matters, then I can see that this way is better than condemning two people who don’t love each other to a lifelong marriage that is not of their choice.  In terms of love matches, though, I don’t think a trial marriage is a good idea.  A lot can happen in a year (such as having a baby), that could leave the man and the woman in very different situations at the end of it.  Also, I think people would be less willing to do the work needed to build a successful marriage if they’re only planning for the relationship to last for a year.  

3) What did you think of the Alban nuptials, with respect to the ones in Terre d'Ange?  Did anything in particular stick out as memorable?

They were much more rowdy, that’s for sure!  Lots of drinking, fighting, feasting and boasting.  One of my favorite parts was probably the evening where the men praised their partners in (usually bawdy) improvised verse.  Joscelin and Imriel’s poems for Phedre and Dorelei were really lovely, and I wonder if their eloquence comes in part from growing up in the art-rich society of Terre d’Ange.  It was also funny when Imriel woke up the next morning horrified that they might have tattooed his face with warrior marks in his sleep.  That’s a fair bit more scary than the typical college risk of people drawing on your face if you fall asleep at a party.

4) We get to see Hyacinthe again!  What are your thoughts on his plan to not pass on his knowledge?  Do you think Phedre and Joscelin are completely on board with it, and do you think this 'secret task' will affect Imriel's story?

I can see Hyacinthe’s reasoning, but I still think it’s a shame to deliberately allow knowledge and power that can be used for good purposes to be lost.  Phedre was raised believing that all knowledge is worth having, so I am wondering if she might not be as accepting of this plan as she currently seems.  Given the hints we’ve been getting so far, it seems like this plan has got to have some kind of impact on Imriel’s story, but I can’t see what it might be yet.

5) Imriel's going to start off as a Prince of Alba with a neighborly cattle raid.  What do you think about this tradition?  Is the violence and risk worth the respect and goodwill Imriel will likely get for it?

I agree with Alais that this is a silly tradition.  It’s also a pretty dangerous one.  I guess that’s not really unexpected, given that their wedding sparring matches supposedly ended in death occasionally.  Still, I can’t imagine how horrible it would be if Imriel, or one of his men, dies in a frivolous, meaningless raid.  I wouldn’t really see it as a chance to gain honor, either, since the motivation and purpose are so trivial.  I hope it will help Imriel to be accepted as a Prince of Alba, though.

Other Things:

—It was brought up by others last time that those who disobey “love as thou wilt” seem to get karmic retribution.  It seems like that might be true of Imriel and Dorelei as well.  Imriel’s under a Maghuin Donn curse that prevents him from even feeling the love he knows exists, and Dorelei’s dreams are silenced.  It’s a shame that the dream-silencing affects Alais as well.

—I find it amusing that Imriel refers to his parents in his letter to Sidonie as “P&J”.  I always thought that kind of shorthand was brought on by texting/messaging, but it seems that it is alive and well in Terre d’Ange :D!

—I am wondering what will happen when the child is born.  I think his love for Dorelei alone couldn’t have trumped his love for Sidonie, but as he said, a child changes things.  I really hope the child is born safely, with no harm to Dorelei, and that sad circumstances don’t simplify his situation.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Read-Along: Kushiel's Justice by Jacqueline Carey, Part 3

Welcome to week three of the read-along of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Justice. This week’s questions cover chapters 15-22 and are provided by Lynn of Lynn’sBooks.  Beware spoilers through chapter 22 below!  We’re finally getting to the more magical side of Alba, so there’s a lot to discuss.

1.I thought it was curious that Phedre and Joscelin joined the party to Alba - any theories.  Are they about to become involved in something do you think?

I really liked that they went with Imriel.  Travel is not extremely easy in this world, so it is comforting to see that they (in their 40s) are still able to head out to visit old friends in a different country.  This is the first time they’re going to Alba in decades, though, which illustrates how final their parting with Imriel is likely to be. I wonder if Phedre and Joscelin secretly hope that Imriel doesn’t get over his love of Sidonie, just so their son will come home to Terre d’Ange.

I don’t have any theories about them getting too involved, partly because I see this as Imriel’s chance to be the center of his own story.  I felt like Kushiel’s Scion involved a lot of Imriel being involved as a bystander in other people’s stories, so I’m looking forward to this adventure being about him and his relationship to Alba.  On the other hand, Phedre does tend to get into trouble everywhere she goes, so she may well end up tangled up with the Maghuin Dhon.

2.I’m pleased and also curious about the mention of Hyacinthe in these chapters. What sort of role do you see him playing in the rest of this story, if any??

He seems against playing a direct role in politics, since he has flatly refused his children being considered in the succession!  I suspect we might see more about the decision to pass on his knowledge or not, and about the potential consequences of either choice.  I’m also looking forward to meeting his children.

3.I’m puzzled with Phedre in these chapters and her sort of inner calm?  She seems to take everything in her stride.  Any thoughts on this?

She does carry the Name of God in her heart, after all!  I think she’s had a certain calmness about her since that particular adventure.  Also, nothing extremely bad has ever happened to her personally in Alba (there was the battle, but she came through it unharmed).  If you consider her track record in other places, it would make sense that Alba would just feel safer to her.  That could extend to how she reacts to the problems Imriel has found for himself. 

4.And we have a name ‘Morwen’ what does this bring to mind if anything?  Any more thoughts on the stories around the ‘Old Ones’ and the new characters that we have met?

It reminds me of Middle Earth.  In Tolkien’s work, the name is Sindarin for “Dark Maiden”.  Since I believe Tolkien based Sindarin partially on the Welsh language, it makes me wonder of the Maghuin Dhon are from fantasy-Wales.

Also, I totally misunderstood what the Maghuin Dhon were.  I imagined them as some violent isolated tribe (like Darsanga in the UK), and completely didn’t pick up that they were basically fae.  Conor’s dad seems like a nice enough guy so far.

5.What do you make of Imriel and Dorelei’s relationship and how it’s developing.  Do you see a future for them - one with perhaps a child in it?  And if so, would this change Imriels plans about only spending a year in Alba and then returning to Sidonie?

I think it really could go either way at this point.  Imriel doesn’t really know Sidonie all that much more than he does Dorelei, and I expect he’ll know Dorelei more by the end of the year.  Also, given that they’re having a lot of sex without d’Angeline magical birth control, I imagine Dorelei will get pregnant relatively soon.  It’s good that he’s making an effort to become closer with Dorelei, and I think things are better for them in Alba than they were in the City of Elua.

6.This curse - what do you make of it.  The protections thet are now placed on Imriel - how do you see this affecting his relationship with Dorelei?

I’m a bit worried about what the protection charm is going to do to Imriel.  It dampens his desire for Sidonie, but it seems like it also dampen his desire in general.  That might not be good for his relationship with Dorelei.  I guess it does make it easier for Imriel to get to know Dorelei without the distraction of his forbidden love.  I’m worried what’s going to happen when he takes the charm off, though, and all the suppressed feelings come rushing back. 

7.The Tiberians  and the Maghuin Dhon - we learn a little more about them and their history.  What did you make of it and the Tiberians?

I guess I feel towards the Tiberians pretty much as I do towards the Romans.  I thought it was interesting that there were the two stories of how the Tiberians were driven from Alba—whether it was the magic of the Maghuin Dhon or it was the force of the combined tribes.  I suspect that both stories are at least partially true, and that all peoples played their part in freeing their nation.  It does show the story Phedre found in a new light, though.  I think it was a Tiberian record, so it makes sense that they would say horrible things about the ‘savage’ Alban tribes.

8.Finally, the Lady Grainne has given her terms to Lord Ferghus - what do you predict the outcome to be?

I don’t think it’s going to be so simple to get the curse on Imriel removed.  It would be on and off in just a few chapters if they agreed to the bargain.  Grainne stopped short of declaring the truce broken, so I’m guessing tensions are just going to be high between the Maghuin Dhon and the Dalriada for a while.  I suspect they’re going to insist on keeping Imriel cursed until he has proven that he deserves the trust of the Maghuin Dhon.