Monday, August 28, 2017

Read-Along: Naamah's Blessing by Jacqueline Carey, END

This is the final post for the read-along of Jacqueline Carey’s Naamah’s Blessing, and therefore also the final post in this epically long read-along of the nine-book Kushiel’s Legacy series.  I’ve had a lot of fun reading and discussing this series with Susan, Lynn, and Grace, and I hope this is not the last read-along we share!  This week’s questions cover chapters 72 through the end, and include a final wrap-up question for the series.  Beware of spoilers from the entire series from here on out!

1) What do you think of the aftermath of Cusi's sacrifice and Raphael's downfall? Were you surprised by how much Moirin could do with her small gift with plants?

That seems like a very high price for so little.  Basically all they got was no power boost to Raphael (because she didn’t die to honor him), and a handful of animated corpses beating him to death.  I guess Raphael also lost the religious support of the people when the ancestors attacked him, which is important because otherwise the d’Angelines would have been executed.  Still, I think Cusi’s sacrifice was too high a price.

I didn’t think about what the newly freed ants would do, but it makes sense.  They were hungry, and it’s not like they were sentient or malicious.  It was good to see Moirin shine in the aftermath, giving power to life instead of death.  I also liked that it wasn’t an instant fix.  She had to wear herself out in the fields every day, just like everyone else, to achieve the miracle they needed to survive.  

2) It was a long haul back to the Aragonian city and port. What do you think of Emperor Achuatli's proposal to Moirin this time around?

It’s terribly mean to test people like that, but I do believe him when he said he wouldn’t have thought less of her if she had chosen differently.  I think he really just wanted to know what sort of people the d’Angelines were.  I feel a little weird about the fact that the d’Angelines ultimately lied about being there to undercut Aragonian trade agreements.  The Aragonians are not really treating the natives with respect, though, so I don’t feel too bad about it.

I think this is the first time I really got the sense that Bao was not polyamorous, though.  While he was understanding of Moirin fooling around in the past, he seemed very disapproving this time around.  Maybe he saw both of their earlier dalliances as a part of ‘sowing wild oats’, which he hoped they would both put behind them eventually?

3) Some judgments and justice is meted out all around. What do you think about the various punishments? There's Allain Guillard, who abandoned the search for Prince Thierry; Durel who could have lost the entire ship; Jehanne's mother; Rogier, his wife, and his two sons; others?

I agree with the pardoning of Allain.  It was a volunteer mission, and his courage gave out.  He did ensure the survival of the severely injured, and someone would have had to do that anyway.  Durel, I also appreciate the clemency, since he acted under duress.  He did nearly kill them all, though, so it makes sense that he had to serve some time.  I am glad they kept their promise with regards to taking care of his family.  I feel like Jehanne’s mother should be tried for child abuse, but unfortunately I don’t know if that is a crime in Terre d’Ange.  I appreciate what was done to Rogier’s family, and hopefully he will learn from the situation in the future.  He may still end up close to the throne, if Aristide and Desiree end up falling in love one day.

4) How did you feel about Thierry's well-meaning ruse to have Moiirin cloak her, Bao, and himself in twilight so he could observe how the court took the return of Rouse & crew? Needful? Cruel? Unnecessary?

Dramatic, but kind of cruel.  I guess it made sense to do, politically, and at least they never actually said Thierry and the others were dead.  They only strongly implied it.  The full weight of grief would hopefully not have hit before they revealed that they were all alive.  I would have been much more disapproving if they’d kept it up for longer than they did.  

5) Finally, it's home to Alba, Moirin's family, and the Stone Door. What did you like most about this homecoming? How do you feel about the ending over all?

Why was the Maghuin Dhon toying with them, leaving them there to despair that she wasn’t coming? Anyway, I’m glad she did grace them!  I was hoping she would do something, like heal both halves of their diadh-anam so they they both had a complete Maghuin Dhon spark.  Then they could have ended the story with the explicit message that they would spend their lives together through choice, not the demands of fate.  

I am also surprised that Moirin didn’t see her new role coming!  I had figured she would replace Nemed, since we saw that she had the memory-eating gift.  No one else has that, after all.  I also had wondered if she would regain the shapeshifting skill in the end, to signify that the Maghuin Dhon forgave the folk the sins of their ancestors.  Maybe that would have been a little too much magic, though :). Her new fancy cave sounded lovely, and it was good to see that Bao could be happy in Alba and Terre d’Ange.  Overall, I liked the ending, and I imagine that she and Bao eventually had a nice bundle of fat, happy babies.

6) Finally, we have enjoyed the entire Terre D'Ange Cycle. Do you have a favorite book, character, or trilogy? Any final thoughts on this series? Would you like to see more adventures or do you think this is a complete series?

This may be obvious with the way that I’ve discussed the books, but I still think Kushiel’s Dart was my favorite novel, Phedre’s was my favorite trilogy, and Phedre and Joscelin were my favorite couple.  Phedre was just so unusual as a heroine, and her relationship with Joscelin spoke to me in a way that rarely happens for me with fiction.  I also loved this world, though, so I enjoyed seeing other Imriel’s and Moirin’s  adventures as well.  I think each of the trilogies came to a good stopping point, so I don’t see much room for new novels.  On the other hand, I would love to read some short fiction taking place during uncovered bits of Phedre’s life!  I bet there would be plenty of smaller adventures to tell!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Review: Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
Published: Solaris, 2016
Series: Book 1 of the Machineries of Empire
Awards Nominated: Arthur C. Clarke, Hugo and Nebula Awards
Awards Won: Locus First Novel Award

The Book:

To win an impossible war, Captain Kel Cheris must awaken an ancient weapon and a despised traitor general. Captain Kel Cheris of the hexarchate is disgraced for using unconventional methods in a battle against heretics. Kel Command gives her the opportunity to redeem herself by retaking the Fortress of Scattered Needles, a star fortress that has recently been captured by heretics. Cheris's career isn't the only thing at stake. If the fortress falls, the hexarchate itself might be next.

Cheris's best hope is to ally with the undead tactician Shuos Jedao. The good news is that Jedao has never lost a battle, and he may be the only one who can figure out how to successfully besiege the fortress. The bad news is that Jedao went mad in his first life and massacred two armies, one of them his own. As the siege wears on, Cheris must decide how far she can trust Jedao--because she might be his next victim.”

This is Yoon Ha Lee’s first novel, so it is naturally the first novel of his that I have read.  The second book in the series, The Raven Strategem, is already out, and I expect I’ll try to get around to it sometime before next year’s award season.

My Thoughts:

Ninefox Gambit is a space opera that tosses you right away into a deeply weird universe, and the novelty kept me interested until I was able to get a sense of how things worked.  If I have understood correctly, their physics is basically determined by conviction, through adherence to a strict calendrical system.  Soldiers can also generate offensive or defensive effects by holding certain formations within areas supported by the appropriate calendar.  If you think that sounds confusing, I should point out that it is just the tip of the iceberg regarding the detailed universe Lee introduces.  It is really a completely different reality than ours, and I don’t doubt that it goes beyond the weirdness limit of some readers.  I spent a lot of time trying to work out how and why the technology worked, and it distracted a little from what exactly was happening in the story.

One really does have to puzzle out this universe, because it is not just a backdrop.  To understand what’s going on, one needs to at least grasp the basis of the hexarchate, the purpose of at least a few of its six branches, and its history with heretics. The tendencies of the members of different branches of the hexarchate are used as shorthand for characterization, and it made the minor characters seem fairly one-dimensional so far. A fair amount of the story also involves military strategy within the calendrical systems, so some attention is needed from the reader for this as well. It’s a lot of information to get through in a first novel, and I hope that having it already introduced will make the second novel, Raven Strategem, run more smoothly.

It is clear by the end that this is part of a larger story, though Ninefox Gambit does come to a satisfying stopping point.  This is clearly the origin story for the protagonist, who I assume will be having more dangerous adventures in the next novels. There was a strong focus on the development of Cheris and her mind-sharing with the insane general Shuos Jedao, but to be honest the world was so alien that it made it difficult to get a sense of who she was and what was important to her.  Knowing very little about Jedao’s past made him seem dangerous and enigmatic, but also difficult to understand. The story also shifts occasionally to single scenes from the perspective of minor characters, which helps showcase the world but does not help in building investment in the major characters. I am invested enough to want to know what happens next for Cheris and Jedao, but what impressed me most with this novel was definitely the creative world building.

My Rating: 3.5 /5

Ninefox Gambit is an unusual and refreshingly creative military space opera.  As the first book in a series, it has to impart a massive amount of information about its intricate setting, while still telling a compelling story.  I was more engaged by the world building than I was by the siege story, and I felt the main characters were a little difficult to build empathy toward.  All the same, this was a very cool novel, and it introduces a world I am looking forward to revisiting in Raven Stratagem.  

Monday, August 21, 2017

Read-Along: Naamah's Blessing by Jacqueline Carey, Parts 4 & 5

Welcome to weeks four and five of the read-along of Jacqueline Carey’s Naamah’s Blessing, the final book of the Kushiel’s Legacy series! I fell a little behind in the recent weeks, so I’m covering both sets of questions this week.  The week four questions were from Susan of Dab of Darkness, while the week five questions were provided by me!  As usual, beware of spoilers below.

Week Four

1) Betrayal again! Did you expect it here in the heart of the jungle? How do you feel about this outcome versus what Durel has endured and has yet to face?

I did not really expect it. I guess Pochotl had no real reason to stay loyal, and we knew he did not want to go to Tawantinsuyo.  It was disenheartening, though, and I don’t blame the men who wanted to turn back.  The others gave a good talk about bravery, but many of the men who continued on with Moirin and the others did die.

2) Raging rivers, deadly illness, efficient deadly natives, scary ants, big snakes: I know you don't want to face any of them, but if you had to choose, which would you tackle?

I really can’t choose.  They are all horrible things that I hope I never encounter.  I keep reading over the list, but I get the same sickening dread feeling on each of them.

3) Vilcabamba held a nasty surprise, didn't it? An army of ants and Raphael controlling them! Were you surprised? How do you think Moirin will learn to deal with the ants?

I was surprised.  I didn’t expect the group’s barbed ‘gift’ to ever really be relevant to the story. I’ve no idea what Moirin will do with the ants.  I was hoping she would be able to communicate to the ants, like she usually can with animals, to win them over.  It looks like she can’t really get through to them, though.

4) Raphael intends to summon Focalor and force him to relinquish his powers or serve him without question. What do you think Focalor’s reaction will be? Will he be so easily enslaved or tricked?

I don’t think he will be enslaved or tricked at all.  In fact, I think Raphael has already been enslaved and tricked.  Raphael is so different from how he was before, and I think a large part of that is the influence of that little bit of Focalor that got through.  When Focalor gets through entirely, I expect whatever is left of Raphael will be destroyed.  I don’t know what Focalor wants to do exactly, though.

Week Five

1) What are your thoughts on the whole situation with Bao and Cusi?  Was it right of Bao and Moirin to engage in blood sacrifice?  What do you think of Cusi’s willingness?

I honestly expected them to find another way, right up until Cusi died.  Phedre was so strongly against blood sacrifice in the previous trilogies, as are d’Angelines in general.  I know Bao and Moirin hated the idea of doing this, and I was shocked that they actually committed to it.  I think a major difference in this situation was that Cusi volunteered.  I think we’re meant to see this as Bao and Moirin respecting a foreign culture.  I’m just not sure I can get behind it.

2) Was the secret of the ancestors what you thought it would be?  Was it worth Cusi’s sacrifice?

I was kind of expecting an army, like Aragorn’s in Lord of the Rings, to suddenly manifest.  I guess I didn’t really take it as the past rulers would literally just stand up and take matters into their own hands. It seems it was one of the only ways to stop Raphael, since the ants could not harm them.  I still don’t think it was worth sacrificing Cusi, but we’ll see about the aftermath.  

3) Did Jehanne’s intervention, or Raphael’s reaction to it, surprise you? Do you think saving Moirin’s relationship with the Maghuin Dhon was worth eliminating their last resort to thwart Raphael?

That would have been a brutal price to pay, but I suspect Moirin would still be accepted by Elua and his Companions, even if the Maghuin Dhon turned her back.  Bao still has his Chinese afterlife to head to, so most of the price would have been Moirin’s.  It really locked them into the strategy of sacrificing Cusi, though, when Jehanne took away her ability to sacrifice herself.  I wish they’d had the backup plan, because that would have at least given them an alternative.

Jehanne did surprise me. I expected her to be a little more help with the current situation, not just resolving the oath tangles.  She managed to get Raphael to back out of marrying her daughter, but he only did it to ensure Moirin wouldn’t lose her powers right as she opened the door to Focalor.  That’s still pretty gross.

4) On Raphael’s attempted summoning, do you think his turn-around at the end is enough to bring him right enough with Elua to pass into the Terre d’Ange that lies beyond? Meaning, do you think he can be forgiven?

I don’t think so, at least not from what we saw.  He admitted he erred in summoning Focalor, but that could have just been him realizing he could not take control of the spirit. He did not have the chance to repent of his other poor choices, or to try to make things right with anyone.  For that matter, he’s killed a LOT of people.  Then again, though, we don’t really know what is required to get into Terre d’Ange that lies beyond.  Maybe, if his heart did truly change, Elua knew.  Maybe there is a place for people who have made terrible mistakes, to guide them back to the light.  Maybe it will be discussed in the next section.

Other Stuff:

--Those ants grossed me out.  I don’t think I could ever get used to their presence.

--It sounds like Thierry has stepped up a lot.  I hope he can handle the situation back in the City of Elua.

--Moirin talks a lot about the mistakes she’s made, but everything seems very nicely entwined. I think she is following exactly the path set out for her.  If she hadn’t joined the Circle of Shalomon, she wouldn’t have had the charm to save Snow Tiger.  If she hadn’t gone to Ch’in, she and Bao wouldn’t have been able to save the day here. Following one’s destiny doesn’t mean everything will be happy, just that there is a purpose.

--I was impressed by the brief glimpse we got of the old Sapa Inca.  He seemed to care deeply for his people.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Review: Arkwright by Allen Steele

Arkwright by Allen Steele
Published: Tor, 2016

The Book:

“Contemporary of science fiction masters Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke, Nathan Arkwright is a seminal author of the twentieth century. At the end of his life he becomes reclusive and cantankerous, refusing to appear before or interact with his legion of fans. Little did anyone know, Nathan was putting into motion his true, timeless legacy.

Convinced that humanity cannot survive on Earth, his Arkwright Foundation dedicates itself to creating a colony on an Earth-like planet several light years distant. Fueled by Nathan's legacy, generations of Arkwrights are drawn together, and pulled apart, by the enormity of the task and weight of their name.”

This is technically the first novel I’ve read by Allen Steele, though I enjoyed his stories about the colonization of the planet Coyote as serialized in Asimov’s Science Fiction.  This novel was identified by the community at World’s Without End as one of the award-worthy books of 2016.  

My Thoughts:  

Arkwright is a very different kind of colonization story than you’ll find with Steele’s books about Coyote.  Instead of focusing on the details of the project and the people who eventually live on the alien planet, Arkwright primarily follows the Earth-side humans who are behind this monumental effort.  The story explores what would drive Nathan Arkwright to establish his foundation and how subsequent generations react to their unchosen connection to the generations-long undertaking.  It is a difficult thing to dedicate oneself to a project that spans longer than a human lifetime, and I can’t imagine that everyone would be able to handle such pressure. I’ve had similar thoughts about the architects behind the great cathedrals of Europe, wondering how they might feel knowing that they will not be able to see their life’s work come to completion.  This is a relatively short novel, and it spans several generations of Arkwrights who have very different ways of coping with their family heritage.  I enjoyed seeing their range of reactions to the Arkwright Foundation, but I felt like I didn’t have enough time with each cast to feel an emotional attachment to the characters.

In the build-up to the establishment of the colonization project, it becomes clear that Arkwright carries a lot of love for the social scene of 1950s science fiction.  There are a number of scenes featuring fictional and actual authors of the era, and involving their interaction in conventions and elsewhere.  I was a little impatient to get back to the future-focused story, but these nostalgic parts helped me to understand Nathan Arkwright’s motives.  I also enjoyed how it highlighted the role of science fiction in inspiring scientific development, something that certainly happens in reality.  Science fiction can help us imagine a path to the future, even as it also can point out potential pitfalls of developing technology.  In this case, Arkwright’s vision created a foundation that would define his family for many years, and would spur technological development along the way.    

After all of this, we do eventually get to see the final outcome of the colonization project.  Separated as it is in physical distance and time from the Arkwright family’s story, this part of the novel felt like an extended epilogue.  I would have been disappointed if there had been no closure on what happened to the colony ship, so I was happy that this part was included.  However, there’s only really enough time to see the situation in broad strokes, when I would have liked to see more detail. Despite the brevity, I appreciated the author’s choice to let his readers move into the future, to see the ‘cathedral’ that was completed long after the builders we met had passed beyond knowing.  

My Rating: 3 /5

Arkwright has an interesting premise, focusing on the human side of the development and execution of an extrasolar colonization project.  It has a clear fondness for the history of science fiction, and the way that science fiction can inspire developments in technology.  It’s also a relatively short book that covers a lot of content, from the inception of the colonization project, through multiple generations of the Arkwright family, all the way through to the project’s culmination.  As such, there is not a ton of depth to each segment or each set of characters.  I’m still happy I read this one, and I will probably read more work by Steele in the future.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Read-Along: Naamah's Blessing by Jacqueline Carey, Part 3

Welcome to week three of the read-along of Jacqueline Carey’s Naamah’s Blessing, the final book of Kushiel’s Legacy.  This week’s questions cover up through chapter 42, and they are provided by Grace of Books Without Any Pictures.  This was a very eventful week, so beware of spoilers below!

1) Were you surprised by Durel's betrayal? Do you think the captain and Balthasar handled it well?

I guess I have been giving Rogier a lot of benefit of the doubt, so yes I was surprised.  I wish he could have just had different political goals without actually being evil. It now seems like he and his wife totally know their kid is a rapist, and are okay with it.  Also, they don’t really care at all about Terre d’Ange, but care so much about power that they’re willing to kill and coerce people to keep it.  Basically, they’re not any better than Melisande ethically, and in some ways worse.  However, they’re definitely not as talented as Melisande, so I think they’re going to be thwarted quite soon.

I think Balthasar and the others handled it really well.  The man had nothing against any of them, and Balthasar and the captain addressed the hold that Rogier’s family had over him.  Now, he can in good conscience help the team, knowing that they plan to make sure his family is okay when they make it back to Terre d’Ange.  All the same, it does make sense to keep an eye on him from here on out.

2) Now that we've had some time to get acquainted with Terra Nova, what do you think of it? What do you make of the Nahuatl, and of the overall political tensions in Terra Nova? Do you think there's any hope for reconciliation between the Aragonians, D'Angelines, other tribes, and Nahuatl?

I think history is not on the side of the Nahuatl, and I expect Terre d’Ange will not have that much to do in the region after Thierry is rescued.  Based on what we’ve seen so far in the trilogy, I am anticipating that Moirin with have some more transient against-established-history success here, and the Nahuatl will successfully reconcile with the other tribes long enough to briefly resist the Aragonians.

3) What are your impressions of Achculati and the bargain he offered? How do you think Moirin's choice will impact her going forward?

I don’t think he ever expected her to accept it.  I think he was ready for her shock and refusal, and then he would have refused to give them aid.  He was very kind to Moirin, but I think his treatment of his youngest wife is a little more telling of the kind of person he is.  You can always tell a person by how he treats those he considers his inferiors, and bargaining her off to provide sex to a complete stranger without her knowledge or consent was a pretty callous thing to do.  I am glad Bao did not actually take advantage of the poor woman. I don’t know whether this will impact Moirin going forward or not.

Other Things:

--I was surprised that Balthasar was able to evoke Kushiel so easily.  In the earlier books, it was really only Phedre and Melisande, as Kushiel’s chosen, who really felt divine influence.  These days, it seems like every member of every house of Terre d’Ange can channel their respective angels at will.

--I’m still finding Moirin’s shame and guilt about her poly nature confusing.  I can only assume that this is all coming from her trauma with Cillian’s family, since I don’t think anyone has shamed Moirin about it since then.  I mean, how many times does Bao have to tell her it’s okay before she can believe it?

--Does anyone else find Moirin’s sudden ability with Nahuatl a little unbelievable, after all her talk about her struggle with the language?  She went from ‘Hello/Thank You”-level to discussing theology in a single day, after months of failing to master the tongue on the voyage.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Short Fiction: April 2017

There were a lot of really entertaining stories published in April, and I had a hard time narrowing them down to my favorites.  All of the ones I eventually picked are by authors I have not featured here before!  They’re also all available to read online, at the indicated links.  Three of these include a kind of splitting or parallel worlds, while the other two feature conflict with humans living on alien worlds.

In the Shade of the Pixie Tree by Rodello Santos (Short Story, Beneath Ceaseless Skies): This was a clever magical time travel story that is told in both directions.  Bekka heads off to collect pixies, and a boy she likes comes with her--even though he’s not supposed to.  In a world with magic, their innocent flirting can lead to dangerous consequences.
When Stars are Scattered by Spencer Ellsworth (Novelette, This is a story about faith and an unusual alien species, “Kites”, on a colonized world. A Muslim community is converting the Kites, and a nearby Christian colony sees them as pests.  When a disease begins to spread through the Kite community, it inflames tensions between the two groups.  

Sunwake, in the Lands of Teeth by Juliette Wade (Novella, Clarkesworld): This is another story featuring humans interacting with aliens, specifically a small group of humans studying an alien civilization.  The non-human cultures and the political situation depicted here were really fascinating, and I loved the creative use of language and the alien perspective.

The Selkie Wives by Kendra Fortmeyer (Short Story, Apex): The general selkie story involves a beautiful selkie woman, who is trapped on land and married when a man steals her sealskin.  This story presents a clutter of variations on that theme, some sad and some hilarious, exploring different relationships between men and women.

Seven Permutations of my Daughter by Lina Rather (Short Story, Lightspeed): This one is a very emotionally affecting story about a woman whose daughter is struggling with drug addiction.  Feeling desperate and helpless, she builds a machine that allows her to jump into parallel worlds.  She thinks that if she can find a world where her daughter is happy, she’ll be able to see where things went wrong and how to make things right.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Read-Along: Naamah's Blessing by Jacqueline Carey, Part 2

It’s time for week two of the read-along of Jacqueline Carey’s Naamah’s Blessing. This week covers chapters 16-26, and questions are provided again by Susan of Dab of Darkness.  Beware spoilers below!

1) What do you think of the assistance the Shahrizai have provided to Moirin and Bao so far? Do you think there's merit to their claim that the Shahrizai should govern the Shemhazai district?

It’s good that they have allies, and Moirin and Bao may feel cheered by the fact that the Shahrizai are generally quite good at playing politics.  The Shahrizai must think that the pair has a good chance of succeeding, or they would not have given them their support.  I don’t really know much about the Shemhazai folk, so I’m fine with the Shahrizai taking over the area!

2) Did you enjoy the Oath Swearing Ceremony where Moirin pledged to be Desiree's protector? What did you like best about it?

I liked the lottery for common folks to attend the party, and it was nice that Moirin ran it personally. She seems like a very genuine person, which seems to be helping her win over people who are not embroiled in d’Angeline politics.

3) Finally, there's news from Terra Nova. From chocolate to spices to riches to a vexing pox that Raphael may be able to cure to the loss of crown prince! Do you think Prince Thierry is really dead? If not, what kind of trouble might he be in? What else about Terra Nova intrigues you at this point?

Ghost-Jehanne is probably telling the truth, so he’s probably alive.  He also can’t be in any urgent trouble, because it will be months more before anyone can arrive in Terra Nova.  Maybe he is being held by some of the people there for some reason? Maybe he was exploring a new culture and lost track of the days?  Maybe Focalor-possessed-Raphael has taken over a kingdom and Thierry is trying to stop him?  I guess we’ll see!

4) Let's discuss King Daniel. He spent some time with his daughter but then planned to abdicate to Thierry when he returned. Upon the sad news, King Daniel is no longer with us. Is there anything more that could have been done, either by Daniel or for him?

I have a lot of sympathy for King Daniel’s grief, but that was also so selfish.  He couldn’t be strong enough to minister the realm, he couldn’t be strong enough to love his daughter, and he couldn’t even manage to tell someone else his concerns instead of taking them with him to the grave.  He must have realized that Moirin claiming that he’d completely changed his mind about Rogier would not be especially convincing.  

I still think he should have gone to Balm House, and just lived there for a while.  I also think that after he basically abdicated the throne to Rogier’s control, that should have been a sign that he should no longer have been permitted to refuse help.  This is going to be a grief that will shape his daughter’s life, both from the emotional trauma and the political problems it will cause her.  At least, through Moirin, she’ll know that one of her parents had loved her.  

5) Rogier is angling for more political power. What do you think of him using his grieve to obtain his goal? Will Moirin and Bao be able to head off to Terra Nova without provoking Rogier further?

I have to believe that he doesn’t know his son is likely a rapist. That is extremely negatively viewed in Terre d’Ange, to the extent that his son would be guilty of blasphemy.  I feel like Moirin needs to find a way to bring that to light, because it is a big deal.  

If Rogier does not know this, I suspect he thinks he is doing what’s best for Terre d’Ange. While he is being calculating about using his emotions to accrue power, I don’t think, at this point, that his intentions are impure in a patriotic sense.  I’m suspecting that Moirin and Bao will quietly slip into the Shahrizai mission to Terra Nova, and maybe in that way they can just disappear without him realizing until after they’ve gone.

Other Things:

--It was really weird to see Moirin and Bao in Melisande’s house, viewing all her stuff as historical artifacts.

--I like Balthasar.  He seems like a good guy.

--I am impressed with Moirin’s father’s strength in his convictions.  I did not expect him to turn against his childhood friend, but he did not hesitate to do so when he realized Rogier was in the wrong.