Fine, We’ll Allow the Boy: Episode Notes

The Ruins of Ambrai by Melanie Rawn

Welcome to episode 1 of the Hot Nuance Book Club, where we are tackling the Collan section of the intro of The Ruins of Ambrai (pages 3-48). The use of self-contained POVs to start the story is something Bree knows can turn new readers away from the book, but Ali and Aradia are already deeply invested in the boy saved by the wind. We agree with his dislike of hats, identify his Main Character Hair, and come up with our first character nicknames.

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Episode Transcript

Ali: Hello and welcome to the Hot Nuance Book Club, a podcast in which a novelist, a screenwriter and a podcaster walk into a book; diving into its craft and impact, in their mission to bring nuance back. I’m Ali and I’m a screenwriter and also the co-host of Wheel Takes podcast and the inventor of the Grinwell Cup. That is a monthly March Madness bracket about who is the hottest character in the Wheel of Time that takes place on Twitter monthly, yearly.

Aradia: Hi, I’m Aradia. I am a podcaster. I host The Wheel of Time Spoilers podcast specifically, and I’m trying to expand my podcast empire, as evidenced by the podcast you, dear listener, are listening to right now.

Bree: That leaves me. I am Bree, also known as one half of the bestselling sci fi fantasy romance author Kit Rocha. My most recent project was the Mercenary Librarians trilogy from Tor, and I am currently writing very horny books about a very sexy dragon.

Ali: Currently we are reading Exiles: The Ruins of Ambree. Embrai? Imbray?

Bree: Ambrai. I had to look it up in the pronunciation in the back, because even though I had been reading this book for 30 years, I realized I have never said this out loud.

Ali: That happens. That’s really much more prepared than I was to read that. Bree, you picked the book for this. Why did we pick this or why this book?

Bree: So, I think that since this is our first episode and also the first episode of this book, and hopefully we will do more books, we can talk a little bit, like, about the genesis of this, which is that we were having a discussion in one of the Wheel Takes channels. In one of our seasonal discussions about some of the themes, the gender themes, that perhaps feel a little regressive in the Wheel of Time. Which is, I guess, my polite way of saying Ali was about to throw the book out an airplane window.

Ali: I had some feelings.

Bree: And I did my little thing, which is I said that I sometimes feel like I, in the Wheel of Time fandom, I’m like the Kool-Aid man, who, anytime someone says that Robert Jordan was like, really ahead of his time, I burst through the wall and say, Actually, there were lots of women writing Amazing Fantasy in the nineties who were quite a bit ahead of where this is, even though I deeply respect what I think Robert Jordan was trying to do. He may have been ahead of some of his demographic peers, but he was not ahead of the curve for fantasy. And I think, Ali, you’re the one who said, you know, I want to read one of these books. Which is what I feel like all the time. People are like, I don’t know. I don’t know if I believe you. And I’m like, no, I was there in the nineties, but they disappeared so completely. Like, you find other people who read and loved these books, but even though they were bestsellers, it’s like they disappeared from the imagination. And every time, you know, an article comes out about the Wheel of Time show, it’s like: and then Robert Jordan invented women in the 1990s and it’s like, no, no, he did a great thing. But these women who wrote these bestselling books are still there reading these articles. And I know some of them now, and I know how much it’s really hard for them to watch these men constantly be given credit for writing these quote unquote, progressive, amazing books that finally showcased women, when they’d been doing it for years with.

Ali: Men getting credit for things women were already doing? You don’t say! My favorite thing is: I read something where they were like, so-and-so, this man was the one who discovered the clitoris. However, it may be that some women knew it was there beforehand.

Aradia: (laughs) Possibly!

Bree: Maybe, maybe.

Ali: Who can say. But there is a man that is officially credited with the discovery of the clitoris.

Bree: Of course.

Ali: So, yeah. What? A man?

Aradia: But for other men, you know.

Ali: To which I say, those poor women.

Bree: Mm hmm. Yeah. So I picked this book in spite of the fact that there were so many other ones. Because we constantly talk about whether or not, you know, this. This is a book. The Wheel of Time series was explicitly a series about gender. And, you know, we can argue about what he was trying to say and what he actually said, but it was clearly a book where he thought he had some things to say about gender. So I was like, Well, why don’t we read a book a woman wrote in the 90s? Where she explicitly has some things she wanted to say about gender. And so this is a matriarchy book. (laughs) And I think viewing what, you know, she thought was a matriarchy when she was writing this in the nineties is super fascinating both compared to, you know, Wheel of Time and other popular fantasy books by men at the same time, but also compared to, you know, 2020s and what we think now. Because there’s a lot of stuff, we have a new understanding of this strict binary, you know. I mean, not a new understanding, but at least a more broad. People understand that maybe men versus women is the extremely simple lens through, which it leaves a lot of people out.

Aradia: It’s science. Men are from Mars, women are from Venus, and non-binary people are from the Oort Cloud. It’s science.

Bree: Science. How could I question.

Ali: Are you saying that gender is a spectrum?

Bree: Is it more complicated than we thought? Who can say?

Aradia: Is it socially constructed?

Ali: I love it.

Aradia: Yeah, I remember all those discussions in the server and then Bree was like, I really wish that I had the brain to do a podcast about this, because I have so many thoughts. And I was like, So you’re saying if I produce it, you have things to say? So that’s why I’m here. I just like reading books and I want to produce podcasts and have smart people say cool things. I did read some not-Robert Jordan, when I was a kid, I did understand that there were women authors out there, but I still definitely was in the zeitgeist of, this is the most amazing fantasy ever! No one’s ever been this brilliant about it! And you know, I was a kid. I didn’t know things at the time. But also I have a really hard time reading fiction now. I’ve been really caught up in nonfiction or Wheel of Time. So when the opportunity came about to do first time reading of fantasy with people to like, drag me along, even when I don’t know what’s happening, I found that very tempting. So I’m looking forward to reading this and actually getting into a not-Wheel of Time fantasy world for the first time in years.

Ali: Bree, you made the mistake of saying that you would start a podcast in front of two people who have started podcasts. This is what has happened.

Bree: I’m so excited because I want to be a podcast. I just don’t want to do the podcast part. Like I’ll talk, you know, someone else make it become a podcast.

Ali: And I’ve never read, I’ve never read a book before, so I’m really excited to try it for the first time.

Bree: Yes, definitely. You are not notoriously like a book, nine books. How many books? Nine books and two door stoppers.

Ali: Nine books and two. Yeah, exactly. I could use them as projectile weapons. They’re so heavy.

Bree: But this is no, no small one. This, I believe, is 850 pages, maybe.

Aradia: It’s got good heft in the hand.

Bree: Yeah, It’s a chunky one.

Bree: So, would you guys like to come with me in my time machine? As I bring it back to 1994? (swooshing sound effect)

Welcome to Bree’s mostly reliable time travel adventures. Please keep your hands and feet inside the car as we take you back to 1994. And so, to give you an idea of what was happening, a plucky little sitcom called Friends just debuted.

Ali: Whoo!

Bree: DreamWorks Animation was recently founded. The first PlayStation is about to hit the market. I’ll Make Love To You by Boyz 2 Men is somehow stuck at the top of the charts. And in November of 1994, bestselling Melanie Rawn decided to follow up her two critically acclaimed trilogies about dragons, (And these are not horny dragons. These are just the normal kind of dragons.) with a bold take on a matriarchal world of magic and rebellion and justice. So, welcome to the Ruins of Ambrai by Melanie Rawn. (swooshing sound effect)

So, you guys, I have read this book repeatedly since the nineties, so I can’t even put myself in the headspace of someone who has never encountered it before. So I really want to know: how did you feel about a book that started in such a perhaps controversial way? And by way, can you guys explain what you encountered?

Aradia: So it was basically a self-contained short story. How it felt was just like, this is a beginning, middle, end. I can move on with my life. Short story. Like there’s obviously a bigger world there. But also it was very contained as an intro.

Ali: It felt almost like a history, like they were explaining Collan’s life story to me, but it started with some wind knocking him over when he was cold.

Bree: It did start with a wind! Which I forgot, until I opened the first page and I was like, Wow, I don’t know if there was something going on here in the nineties and the wind, but it does start with a wind.

Aradia: Something in the air.

Ali: Yeah, we’ll have to investigate, Nineties, wind. What was going on with wind at that time? But it knocked him over, which prevented him from being inside the house that they eventually burned down with his family inside. Which, lucky Collan, am I right?

Bree: Yeah. Do you think this was a normal wind or a magical wind?

Aradia: It had to have a magical … it’s like in the first paragraph, clearly it’s magical, aside from like not knocking down the trees and stuff.

Ali: So one time I was in Chicago and there was like a high wind warning. It was like a tornado warning. And I did see a wind lift a friend of mine into a bush.

Bree: Oh, my gosh. That’s intense.

Ali: And she kind of was like, pushed. Not like, she didn’t get a lot of air, but she was like really teeny tiny. And she got right into that bush.

Bree: Well, he was a four year old. So, I mean, I guess it could have been a normal wind.

Ali: It could be. It could have been a normal wind. But yeah, lucky Collan, I couldn’t help but think, the four year old thing. He was kind of saying what I was thinking, which is like, he’s four years old. Why do you need to put him in a cage? Like, he’s four! He’s going to forget where he is in 5 minutes!

Bree: So it opens up. And this is a sort of interesting tense that this is told in. So like the part that you guys read, was basically the Collan part. There are four parts in part one of the book, the first act. And it’s basically, you know, four different short contained stories. So this is Collan’s, told in an omniscient point of view. A third person omniscient point of view, where sometimes it does deepen and duck into Collan’s head, but it also knows things that he doesn’t know about his future. So how did that impact it for you guys? The story knows things that are coming.

Ali: I have to be honest: I never notice the narrative. Like what tense the narration is really taking. You know, I’m kind of like, All right, we’re either in their head or we’re not. And it didn’t bother me at all that it was omniscient, or I guess there was part of me that was like, okay, this is really interesting and fun. What is it going to have to do with like the entire rest of the novel, if anything? Or is this like a short story that we’re just kind of a part of, and then everything else is kind of loosely in the same world. So I’m interested to see for part two, what that will be.

Aradia: Yeah, I, I don’t know. I think I like the omniscient POV, maybe more than any other voice in writing, particularly for getting started into a world. Like, world building in fantasy. Like, hats off to every fantasy world builder out there because, how do you take English and make it into your fantasy context without just being like a weird portmanteaus? Like, it’s really hard for me to learn a new world through fantasy worldbuilding, so I can’t even imagine how hard it is to do that. But I feel like the omniscient POV makes it slightly easier because I’m not limited by what the narrator knows, right? Because it is a four year old, right, he does not know the world. It’s really helpful to have the narration give me more than a four year old’s understanding of the world when I’m in chapter one of a new book.

Ali: Yeah, that’s true. I couldn’t help but think also, he’s four. It’s not a very useful person. I don’t know, I’m like, why are they being so mean? He’s four, how useful is he going to be? But they said something about like the armband, and a couple of different things about the world, that I felt like didn’t get really fully explained. So that I’m kind of like, Will it be explained later or never? I don’t know.

Bree: I mean, that’s definitely the question. And I will tell you guys that, basically what she is doing is giving you a speedrun of the back stories of several important characters and the world at the same time, to like, you know, important political stuff that happened in these, I think, 25 years that these first four point of views cover. So the question for you guys is going to be trying to figure out which parts are going to come back, and which people you’re meeting who are going to be important later on, and which ones are just, you know, part of the back story.

Ali: Maybe I’m just a sucker for people being locked in the house and burned, but I feel like that’s going to be important. But I think I mean, it’s like I just feel like that and the armband thing that I don’t really learn much more about, like a mage stuff. Like we get some background about those things, but I feel like they’re going to be more fully explored in later subsequent stories.

Bree: So there’s something suspicious, is what you’re saying, about the way this all went down? You wouldn’t just burn a random family and…

Ali: It seems super random, right? Like, why not just take their stuff? Yeah, it’s like overkill. Do you know what I mean?

Aradia: Literally. Yeah. That was one of my questions when I was reading. It was just like, How many of these characters are just here for the speedrun, and how many of them are foreshadowing Easter Egg kind of people? Because any and all of them could be in either category. Like I could totally see the crippled musician showing up in flashbacks and flashforwards, or never showing up again. Clearly Collan is going to show up again. But the mysterious she he keeps referring to, who is she? Who is she? I need to know.

Ali: And yeah, why the wind that clearly was meant to save his life happened. Why would they sell a four year old into slavery? I’m like, if they’ve killed this whole family, why take this one kid and sell them into slavery? Is that just because, he’s not going to really remember, it’s fine? Because, I don’t know. I’m against slavery as an institution. Let’s come out really strong against slavery. But I’m also like, is a four year old going to be a particularly effective slave? Like, I don’t think so.

Bree: So it does make you wonder why they didn’t sell the rest of them.

Aradia: Right.

Bree: Is it just because he fit in the cage so they could like, transport him?

Ali: Did he fit in the cat cage? What was in the cage? That’s another question. What was in the cage before him? Does it matter?

Aradia: Were they slave traders or was it opportunistic kidnapping?

Ali: Like they’re like, Oh fuck, we ended up with this four year old. I know what to do! Weird Uncle Bob has an idea, he has a friend. He’s like, Oh, we got a kid. He fell off the back of a truck.

Bree: Take him to Scraller.

Ali: To Scraller!

Aradia: I’d be fine if we never saw him again.

Ali: I’d be very. You know what I did like, though? That there was some, like, weirdness against this boy. It was not played for laughs and it was objectively bad. I liked that. I didn’t like that it happened, but I liked that, if we’re going to go there, honor what you’re doing.

Bree: So basically Collan goes, he’s, you know, he’s knocked over by the wind. He’s taken and sold into slavery to this man named Scraller, who is quite a controversial character. They make it clear that Scraller is unusual, because he is a man who owns property and the only reason he owns property is that all the women in his family have, quote unquote, mysteriously died.

Ali: Can we talk about what an icon his mother is? She births him and she’s like, he’s going to suck. I’mma dip and then I’m going to wait in the afterlife to be like, see, I told you, he would suck. I think that’s hilarious.

Bree: Yes. Yes. Scraller’s mother, MVP.

Ali: She’s like, I hate it here.

Bree: She’s like, I’m sorry I did this to you.

Ali: You couldn’t have gotten that premonition a little earlier?

Aradia: Why couldn’t you just have died yesterday, lady?

Ali: Or, like, I don’t know. It’s the Would you kill the worst person in the world question. Like if you have a baby and you’re like, he’s going to be the worst person ever. But she kind of took the easy way out. She was like, You know what? I’m not going to kill this kid. I Absolve my self responsibility, you can’t blame me for raising him, I’m going to go and good luck, my other children.

Aradia: The reason he’s so bitter is because his mom died.

Ali: He killed like three sisters, four aunts and five cousins.

Bree: Something like it was a. Yeah. Let me see if I can find the passage: “By the time Scraller acquired a certain very young copperhead slave, talk had long since died down about the fortuitous, for Scraller, deaths of three sisters, four aunts and five cousins.”

Aradia: That is a lot of deaths.

Bree: So, I mean, this is I think the first indication we really get, though, that, like, this is a world where men cannot own property, which is somewhat different than our own world.

Ali: Which, considering we got the right to have credit cards in 1970, right? I think it’s in the 1970s

Aradia: Somewhere in the seventies.

Ali: I’m sitting here like: Oh, no. Are you not able to wrap, Bernie? No. Was that not a right that you have? I like the role reversal. She really said: role reversal.

Bree: Yeah, she does this in lots of interesting ways, large and small, in that they – I think that she does a good job of showing how deep it goes, even to… well let’s not get too far ahead. Let’s see.

Ali: Oh, like: men can’t show their hair, is one. That is too sexy, they have to wear a coif.

Bree: Yes, they have to have their hair completely covered. And he’s not a big fan.

Ali: He doesn’t like it, mood. That’s a sensory nightmare.

Aradia: I hate hats.

Ali: And I like I mean, I pictured it like, kind of going around, like, tuck it under the neck, too. And anything that’s under my neck, …

Bree: And the way it is described, it is not just like like a head scarf sort of thing. It’s like a tight thing that like, comes under your chin and like, kind of chokes you.

Ali: You know, that’s a sensory nightmare for me. I can’t have anything that goes to my neck. No.

Bree: Like I feel like it’s like high heels for your head.

Ali: Yeah.

Bree: Like that sort of discomfort.

Aradia: Yeah. I think there’s periods of, like, weird Catholic religious headwear that, like, this is exactly describing. And, yeah, just the visceral sensory nightmare of, just like, my hair needs to breathe. Don’t shrink wrap your skull. It’s not good.

Ali: See I don’t have a problem with hats, it’s the around the neck thing that would bug me. I have a really big aversion to things being around my neck. And some lady at one point was like, well, it might be because you were hung in a past life. And I’m like, Ooh, that’s kind of cool. I’m liking that my sensory problems you’re making cool. But like, yeah, there’s a collar that’s too close. Like, I can’t, I can’t do it.

Bree: Yeah, my extremely plunging neckline over here.

Ali: I’m not supposed to borrow Gus’s shirts, because I keep stretching out the neck line, and he’s always like, Now I have, like, a bag. Now look like I’m, like, open chesting it.

Bree: No, I did the same thing. I used to cut the collars out of my t shirts because they were like, too… they would touch my neck and I couldn’t handle it.

Ali: I hate it. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it.

Bree: This is the neurodivergent podcast! Brought to you by people who can’t stand clothing.

Ali: Yeah, that would be a sensory nightmare for me. And I feel like, if it’s itchy on top of that? Game over. Game over.

Aradia: Yeah, yeah. Just kill me. Just. Just, we’re done.

Ali: Yeah. Where is the tag? That’s the big question. Where is the tag on that outfit? Because, you know, there’s got to be a tag.

Bree: Just scratching behind your ear

Ali: Oh, no, no. No, no.

Aradia: Yeah, the like, little boning right around the edge that, like, makes the edge firm. Like, it didn’t get quite stitched in properly, so it’s just like poking…

Ali: Like a bad bra. Noooooo.

Bree: Oh, yeah.

Aradia: Oh, yeah. So no wonder he takes it off and is just scandalous in front of the audience, because that’s the alternative.

Ali: That kind of thing always makes me so paranoid too, because there was one House episode where some woman got like septicemia because her like bra underwire was poking her in the back and it got infected and then she got septicemia and she died. And I think about it all the time.

Bree: Bra underwire that pokes you is like literally….

Ali: Every time a bra underwire is going haywire, I’m like Oh God, it’s my time! (laughs) Imagine, that’s an embarrassing way to go!

Bree: Nightmare unlocked.

Ali: I’m sorry I did that to you. I’m sorry I passed that to someone else.

Bree: I mean, I’m wearing my nice bra today, so thank you. I will not die.

Ali: I’m like, since the pandemic, I’m pretty much purely a sports bra person. I can’t, I can’t. I can’t do it anymore. I know too much comfort now. I’m just always dressed like Adam Sandler in the early 2000s. Like, that is my wardrobe aesthetic forever now.

Bree: I’m down with it.

Ali: I’m too comfortable. But anyway, so, Scraller! Oh, can I ask a question?

Bree: Of course.

Ali: They very explicitly say, and I don’t want to linger too much on the sexual assault, but like, they say in the beginning, he doesn’t have a predilection for boys, but then he – does?.

Bree: I feel like that’s one of those things where maybe he just has a predilection eventually for anybody because he’s so overcome by whatever. Like, maybe I don’t I’m not entirely sure, like if that was just him deciding whatever, you know, because this is the problem for Scraller, which I think that they pointed out, is that he can’t get married.

Ali: Right.

Bree: Without losing everything.

Ali: He gaslit gatekeep girlbossed too close to the sun.

Bree: (laughs) Boy. Did he boyboss?

Ali: Boyboss. He boybossed too close to the sun.

Bree: So he can’t get married without losing everything. And they have still, because this is a, you know, sort of a role reversal. There’s definitely, if he desports himself, if he sluts about, they will not respect him anymore. He can’t, you know, do that thing. You sort of get trapped in that place where he doesn’t have very many options. So I think that’s clearly how I read that. Like eventually he was just, you know, sort of had a moment of being overcome. So like, because it’s a progressive thing where he’s making Collan read him these like bedtime stories, basically.

Ali: Which is, like grooming behavior 101, right? Like having children read you pornography is…

Bree: Oh, it’s terrible! And it is never played funny, thank God.

Ali: No, that’s what I appreciate is, it’s never meant to be funny or it’s clearly not funny, titillating, any of it. It’s just like creepy and weird. And that’s like, yeah, it is creepy and weird because it should be creepy and weird.

Bree: And even in Scraller’s fantasies, they’re role reversal, because it’s the, you know, the strong blooded lady who takes the quivering man’s virginity.

Ali: Yeah! I loved that.

Aradia: That. Yeah. I liked it, it wasn’t funny but I liked the satirical twist of how his internal monologue was sort of interpreting what was happening, and the fact that it was a role reversal. It was, it wasn’t funny, but it was interesting. It wasn’t like, I know this scene in every detail. It was like, Oh, that’s a little different! That’s a different angle to look at it from, to have it be like sardonic and angry. Not afraid, like that was the other thing, he wasn’t afraid. He was disgusted. He was annoyed. He was ultimately threatened. But like a lot of the build up to that was him just being like eye rolling inside, while he dealt with this like creepy grooming behavior.

And yeah, I also saw the attempted assault at the end to be more of like, you’re a pair of hands that isn’t mine and like it. And also he is less of a boy at that point. He’s becoming more of an adult. So we’re getting like out of the like – and I liked that he wasn’t like a pedophile, right? That we have an evil, nasty, sadistic person. But like, not in the Well, you have to bundle all the bad things together, right? It’s just like, hey, sex toy, like, come closer.

Bree: Yeah. It was almost more dehumanizing to me, I think. He wasn’t a person that was a preference at that point. He was just the object of relief.

Ali: Exactly! Like a desperately lonely, gross man. But just, they’re just like a gross person. You’re just like a serious person and you’re sad and kind of gross. And sad.

Bree: Also, what I really liked in that thing is that Collan was contrasting the behavior in these, like, books that were being read with the behavior of the people around him. You know, and that the one thing that he thought that, like, made this sex obscene was not that it was sex, but that it was like sex without laughter and sex without affection. And like, that was what he took away from this, that that was the obscenity.

Ali: I noticed that.

Bree: I mean, I feel like that’s such, one of the things that I would say right away is like, such a different vibe from Wheel of Time, because it’s not puritanical. It’s not saying that the sex is bad, it’s saying having sex with, you know, people who don’t value you and love you and want to laugh with you is bad.

Ali: But it’s also not saying: 3 to 4 hours later!, and you’re like, please. (laughter) I just felt like they she really thought about what she was trying to say there, which I really appreciated.

Bree: Yeah, it was a delicate, a delicate thing to write this boy’s point of view of this whole thing going down, I think very delicate.

Aradia: For him to take away that joy should be part of sex. It’s like – having grown up in the United States, it took me a while to get down to that layer through all the social conditioning. I’m really impressed that he went straight from that creepy bullshit to like, joy and sex should be together. Like, good on you Collan, for having your head screwed on straight. It’s a good conclusion to come to.

Bree: Yes, Collan is ahead of much of our pop culture already.

Ali: Yeah. That laughter, it’s not like it’s not a bad part of it. It’s like, you know, it can be fun. It can be fun, no, it should be fun.

Bree: It should be fun!

Ali: And it’s silly. Bodies are weird and silly. Like things are weird and silly.

Aradia: They do strange things! (laughs)

Ali: They do strange things. They’re funny.

Aradia: There will be weird noises. It’s just a fact.

Ali: Weird stuff happens sometimes, and like it’s fun where you can roll with that versus be like, taking it so seriously, that all of a sudden it’s not fun anymore. I don’t know. We like, take all the fun out of it.

Bree: Yeah, I do think that that is totally true. So I think I love that. I love that he took such a – she managed to convey how horrible it was and how abusive but like, still come out of that with him not like, damaged but, you know, having this like, strong idea of like, what things can be and should be. And I think she navigated that really cleverly.

Aradia: Also like that he got rescued at the 11th hour from like the worst that would happen, that was really relieving after all that creepy buildup?

Bree: Yeah, let’s talk about that! Once it was discovered that he could sing beautifully. There was sort of a ticking time bomb above his head.

Ali: Yeah, well, they were like, we’re going to take his balls. And I’m like, Castrati were a thing for sure. That was like a horrible thing. And I think the last castrati died at, like a weirdly late time, where I was like, really? So I thought ‘m going to look it up and be like, when, when did that happen? Because I saw it recently and I was like, really?

Aradia: (inserted into the recording) Editing Aradia here, popping in here to fact check that the Last Castrati to live died in 1922. His name was Alessandro Moreschi, and he was the only one to ever make a solo recording that can actually still be heard. There will be a link to some information about that in the episode description. (end of insert)

Ali: Yeah, I think I think like Aradia said, there was this kind of like grooming that was happening at that point. And of course he has to be special in some way because he’s the main character in this series. So they’re like, We discovered he’s gifted. And I went really? Did you?

Bree: You don’t say.

Ali: I just want one average Joe just bopping their way through as the main character. They’re like, I’m the average guy! Nothing special about me, but I’m going to work my way through. Yeah yeah, he did have kind of a, alright, when is something weird going to go down, because at the last minute, they’re like, Nope, never mind. And I thought to your point about the damage, I think they did that in a way that didn’t frustrate me where I was like, And now he’s fine. It’s like, clearly he went through some stuff. It wasn’t like, dismissive of what he went through. It was just kind of like, that was fucked up. It was fucked up for him. It clearly sat with him long enough that he was like, I don’t trust the people I’m currently with to protect me, because I have not been protected all of this time.

And so he booked it, which I go, Well, yeah, everyone who he’s been around has screwed him over in some way, shape, or form, or at least tried to, in Scraller’s case.

Bree: Yeah. So somebody shows up at Scraller’s place and is like, Come with us, if you want to keep your balls!

Aradia: Basically.

Ali: Come with us if you want to live.

Bree: I mean, they’re not giving him a consensual choice about this, so that’s not great. So he peaced out with the mysterious old magic man. A mysterious magic person has finally come to town, though, we need to note that!

Aradia: Gandalf has entered the chat!

Bree: Yes.

Ali: I mean, they did give him kind of a choice. They were like, stay here and lose your balls or come with us and have balls.

Bree: Oh, no. Yeah, I meant the people who are going to take his balls, they’re, like..

Ali: Oh, no, that was that. But see, I like that the slave people are objectively bad. Yeah. Serious. They’re objectively bad. They’re taking balls.

Bree: That’s definitely not not a good thing to be doing.

Ali: Not a great thing. I mean, unless they’re dogs or cats, like, please fix your pets. But otherwise,… Anyway, so they, unlike me with the dog, they did not take his, his stuff because he ran away.

Bree: Yes. With the magic man who came to town.

Ali: Mm hmm.

Bree: This is our first glimpse, I think, like, of overt magic, which is… What is it, that he, he folds? Folds the road, basically. So basically, it’s like some sort of mini wormhole, I guess, like, makes the road shorter.

Ali: Well, I just always think of..

Aradia: It’s like the Wrinkle in Time.

Ali: I was literally going to say! They take this end of the skirt, and this end of the skirt and they put it together.

Bree: Yep. Yep.

Ali: Somebody, I swear to God, I was reading something else and somebody used that exact verbiage, and I put the book down like they just ripped off Wrinkle in Time, for sure. Yeah, it is the easiest way to explain it.

Bree: It is.

Ali: But still, I was like, that’s a total direct rip off of Wrinkle in Time.

Bree: But instead of traveling across the galaxy, they’re going, I think Collan even like, does the math on it like, six or seven steps for every one, or something.

Aradia: Yeah, I looked at the map and the main point was getting up and over the mountains, it seems. That it was less the distance and more the vertical transition.

Bree: I’m trying to remember, where did they go.

Ali: I forgot to talk about. One of the major ick moments was, that he was so cold that like, helping deer or whatever, give birth, was like, warming his hands! Ew!

Aradia: Oh God. Yeah, that that was an ick.

Bree: Oh, yes, that was explicit. That, that was one thing that was earlier, before they discovered his magic. He did lots of slave tasks that were not great and helping birth – I think they have a different name, but in my head they’ve always just been Gazelle because it looks like.

Aradia: Oh, yeah, yeah, it’s it’s some fantasy grazer that just has weird horns. That’s kind of what my mental picture says.

Bree: I’ve always imagined they become like, reindeer, I think. But like, it’s not gazelle. It’s gal- … I don’t know. This is my problem. There’s no audio book for this, so I can’t go make someone tell me.

Ali: I’m such a, like, reaction reader where I’ll be like, Oh my God. And stuff like that. I freak out Gus all the time. But I had such a visceral reaction to that moment. He was like, What’s happening? And I was like, I cannot possibly explain to you. You’ll have to read it, like I can’t out of context, explain this to you in a way that’s going to make sense. Anyway, that was funny. But yeah, so that was a major ick moment for me. So he gets away and then he steals a horse and he books it. But he’s with some woman, right.

Bree: Lady Lilen.

Ali: And they’re like, Oh, we’re going to put her with this woman who’s being investigated by Scraller already for stuff?

Bree: I’ll give you guys a little bit of history, since it’s mostly said in this chapter. The waste is this like big area that was basically ravaged by magical wars. And so it’s sort of like a tough place to live. And there are only two real families who live there, and they talk about it earlier on in the book, The Ostins, and then Scraller. And Scraller tried very hard to put the Ostins out of business, to like just basically crush them, but he never completely managed to do it.

So this is the Ostin family, where he takes her. So she is like basically the only other important person in this big territory. And yeah, she’s being investigated because Scraller is like constantly trying to put her out of business.

Ali: Scraller is like, I haven’t killed enough women yet. I haven’t. If I kill ten, I get a free Sub.

Bree: Yeah. He’s, he’s got to take him out of business.

Aradia: Well, and his free sub is, he wants a sigil, right? If he has enough wealth, then like the one woman he doesn’t want to kill will, like, give him a fancy cartoon to put on his banners, and then everyone will respect that.

Ali: There really is a free sub in this world.

Bree: Right, you guys don’t know the particulars of this yet. And you will learn a lot more about it in the next section. But what you do know right now for sure is that there is something called the Blood. And like the blood is like the highest ranked person you could be. And then you get a little like, fancy sigil, so you don’t get to have one of those unless you are Blood. And Blood sounds like something you have to be born in. In theory, you have to be born Blood. But I guess you can pay enough. If you punch your subway card with enough murder, you can buy anything.

Ali: Murder enough brides, you get enough reward points. You are entitled to a free…

Bree: A free smoothie sigil. So yes. And at this point, I believe he has his sigil already, so he may be going for something else. I don’t know, because they do mention that it is embroidered on his underwear.

Ali: How real. There’s a lot that I would do for a free t shirt. So, I mean, who am I really, to judge? (laughs)

Aradia: That’s fair.

Ali: There’s a lot I would do.

Bree: Okay, so yes, she actually says that Scraller is coming to her house tomorrow and Collan’s like, fuck this. He tries to run and the Mage is like, Look, I can do the opposite of folding, so that every time you take a step, you take like a 10th of the step.

Ali: Wrinkle in time.

Bree: The magic we’ve seen now is like manipulating how space works. And I believe he made them invisible at one point too. So like, some sort of, like, magical shielding.

Aradia: Yeah, there was, like, some silence, some invisibility, and then some space folding. And then he talks about, like, his other ones, which are more like attention redirecting sort of magic rather than invisibility. It’s look over there and like, that when he’s describing the magic. That part reminded me so much of like, like dealing with dragons style magic. It’s just funny. There’s a funniness and a sardonicness and a practicalness to it? It’s not like the great Holy Mick Meow Meow in the sky. It’s like, look over there! But it’s all capitalized. So like it is a spell, but it’s also this like earthy, grounded sort of magic, which I find enticing.

Bree: The wards are like, Yeah, these great things that like, you know, they’ll put: I have a stain on my shirt next to a mirror. And so then whatever you’re supposed to be finding that they don’t want you to find, all of a sudden you’re compelled to look in this mirror to see if you have a stain on your shirt. And by the time you’re done looking, you have forgotten that you were going to go do something. So it’s lots of redirect and subtle funny things with the wards.

Ali: As an ADHD person, are there distractions spells all around my house? Like is that what is going on?

Bree: Yes. I feel like my house would just be warded with Forget this. Where did I put my phone?

Ali: Where do I ever put my God damn phone? No, that’s so true. I can’t find my phone to save my stupid life. Yeah, I felt like that was all very relatable content. I’m like, yeah. I would get distracted on the way to the kitchen thinking about whether or not I had a stain on my shirt and then forgot why I got there. Perfect. So it’s just ADHD spells?

Aradia: Yes, basically.

Bree: So, yeah. So he peaces out. He peaces out for six weeks. They were going to send him to Lilen’s, another of Lilen’s houses with her family. But as soon as they get on the road, he’s like, I got a horse, I’m out of here, bye.

Ali: He’s got no ID disk right. And he can’t get one made. Okay. How… as ADHD people, I would lose that in 5 minutes.

Bree: They wear them as necklaces.

Ali: Oh, that doesn’t matter. (laughs)

Aradia: Yeah. I’m like, that chain is going to catch and pull so fast.

Bree: I would absolutely like yeah, I would get it ripped off and it would just be gone. And then I’d be like, Well, I guess I am now, well, nobody!

Ali: I would get it snagged on -, Well, you’re having a bad day. You have your identity disk on a chain, right? You go in the door, it snags in the fucking doorknob. Yeah, ruins your day. I would rip it off, I throw it, and then I don’t know where it went. I would never see it again. The borrowers. I always say the borrowers take my stuff. That’s how I find peace. I’m like, the borrowers have it. They’ll give it back when I’m meant to have it again.

Aradia: Yeah, they know when I need it better than I do. It’s fine.

Ali: Yeah. The borrowers took my jacket. I’ll find it again when I need it. But I also am like, Is there nobody doing fake disks? Like a fake ID person? There was always that one person at your high school that somehow could get you a fake ID, right? Like where is the fake ID disk person?

Bree: Well, they do give him one at the end of this. They give him one by having an official one made. So it doesn’t feel like it’s quite a fake ID. They just, like, get the official people to make a fake one.

Ali: See, and that’s that’s too much. I’m like, there’s got to be someone who’s like, you know, he’s a youth. Go talk to the other youths and be like, Who is the fake ID guy? I need a fake ID. I feel like there’s got to be somebody.

Aradia: Yeah, he missed that opportunity on his one galavant in amongst the youths.

Ali: Yeah, I have notes. I have you doing this year thing all wrong.

Bree: In his defense. He definitely was not well prepared for his six weeks of freedom here before they track him down again. Definitely was not well prepared by his life on Scraller’s estate there, so he is what he’s juggling, so like if he juggles enough things, he gets to keep them. That’s how he’s like making his money. Because if he starts singing, of course, immediately everyone’s going to be like, main character, main character!

Ali: (laughs) Plus his voice is changing now. But I want it to be like still. I mean, if you can hold a tune, usually your voice is good even during that transition period, it’s just deeper.

Aradia: I feel like I remember reading in a different fantasy series where a main character has his voice crack. His voice teachers are like, No, you can’t sing until the transition is over.

Ali: Oh wow.

Aradia: You’ll damage your voice if you’re, like, singing properly and your voice cracks in the middle of that like that might damage your voice forever. So like, you have to stop it until it settles. And I don’t know how true that is? But it was in a different fantasy book, so…

Ali: I mean, I sang all through puberty, but I also am a woman, so I don’t know. I don’t know what the deal is there. I don’t know if men have to stop singing for a little while or what, but I mean, you certainly can lose your voice. I mean, I do know people who have, like vocal hemorrhages happen who are singers. And like, there’s always a risk of losing your voice. And some people do it on purpose. Some people damage their voices on purpose, like smoking and screaming and stuff, until they get a husky sound. But I know there’s a couple of famous singers that did that, but, you know, I don’t know if puberty has an effect on whether or not you’re allowed to sing as a boy.

Bree: I will say I think probably like, you know, like the reason why they didn’t want his voice to lower like, I don’t know anything about music, but it just feels a little bit like, well, if we have these guys who sing high still, then we don’t need women! (laughs)

The Mage comes back and asks him if he knows that Lady Maichen Ambrai has divorced her husband, which I think is the first time we see the title of this book.

Aradia: Yes, definitely pinged for me.

Bree: There’s something that maybe is relevant. Of course, Collan doesn’t give a shit because some lady got divorced and her husband left her, and yeah, he just wants to eat.

Ali: Maybe we’ll hear the details of that story. I feel like. I feel like then we’re going to be like, Oh, you really should have cared about the details of that story. This feels like a Mat moment where he’s like, I don’t care, must eat. And you’re like, Oh no, Actually that was a really important detail which you probably should have…

Bree: We’re trying to give you the worldbuilding, could you stop eating the peppers. But he eats the peppers, so, and then they take him to see the old crippled bard.

Aradia: Yeah. That’s so sad. Deliberately crippled musicians is one of my, like, the softest, most, like, heart wrenching spots.

Ali: Uh huh. That’s so sad.

Bree: Yes. So this bard is like the person who wrote all of his, like, every best song forever that Collan loves and worships. And for some reason he pissed off the First Counselor, which is somebody we’ve heard a bit about, because she is Scraller’s patron, who gave him his ten sub murder, you know, sigil. And so she is the sort of person who would give you a rewards card for murder, is the sort of person who would take a Bard’s tongue and cut all the tendons in his fingers, I guess, if he sings a song she doesn’t like. And that is what she did to him. So the greatest bard of a generation.

Ali: I think it was a line in a song that he had that offended her. Like it was critical.

Bree: Yes. And I will say you will see more about this, exactly how it went down.

Ali: Oo. Interesting.

Bree: In the next part there is more details about our wonderful bard Falundir. Falundair? Let me let me go back and see,… Falundir. We’re going to say Falundir.

Aradia: Yeah. I need to know more about him. I need to know more about him. Like it’s too intriguing.

Bree: So, yeah, he’s got this little baby gifted singer in his house now, while he is trying to recover from losing his passionate career. And I, when I read this, he seemed very old. But now I think he’s like I think he’s like 35 or 40. So, like, you know.

Aradia: I got the old impression, too!

Bree: Yeah. He’s Yeah, he’s actually not that old!

Ali: So you might live a long time without your gifts.

Bree: So he was like, in his prime when they did this to him.

Aradia: Fuck!

Ali: As someone who’s played and who plays an instrument. But I’m not good, like I am trying to learn to play the guitar and I can play a couple songs. And I decided as a gift to my mom to do a song for her birthday. Playing in front of people is the scariest. Like I sing, I, I’ve acted, like I do the podcast, like I do that stuff. But like actually playing anything is one of the scariest things I’ve ever done in my life because I know I’m not good at it. Like, I’m just I’m like, Oh, bless her, she’s trying. But I knew I could personality work my way through it. And they’d be like, Oh, how cute, you know? So I can’t imagine. I’m trying to think of like, a singer I really look up to. I can’t imagine them handing me after they have, like, lost their fingers and tongue, handing me an instrument and going: play for me. I would cease to- I would evaporate into the air or something. I felt it so viscerally. Imagine T Swift comes to you and she’s like, play, you know, play White Horse, or whatever it is. And you’re just like, okay, like, here goes nothing. I haven’t played in like at least six weeks. So the calluses on your fingers aren’t the same. That to me, I felt very stressed by, because I was like, I get at least a little bit how intimidating that would be. And so I was like, Of course you fucked up.

Bree: Yeah. The first time he tries to play for Falundir, he just like, messes it up and runs away into the woods. Like, relatable. Like you would.

Ali: Yeah. You know, so relatable. I was like, I can’t possibly imagine. I would get stressed enough with writing when I send stuff in for writing. I don’t have to look at them while they read it. That’s so stressful. I was talking to somebody the other day who is a writer mentor of mine, and I was like, talking to him about performance anxiety and like writer anxiety and all those things and how I think I’m getting a little bit better this time because I’ve only had, well, because I only had a few panic attacks recently. (laughs)

And he goes, Oh, yeah, you know, like one day I just kind of stopped having those, you know, everything was just kind of fine. And I just was like, Oh, you know what? I’m good. I don’t really have anxiety about my writing anymore. It’s like more about them than it is about me. You know? I know I’m talented and I’m good.I was like, Wow, that’s amazing. And he goes, And I also started Prozac. That might actually be it.

Bree: (laughs) I was about to say, that is not relatable content.

Ali: I know, I was like, I was like, wow. That’s amazing! And he goes, Oh, but I also started Prozac and I think it might be that, then. (laughs)

Bree: Yeah, I mean, there are times when I think, Oh yeah, I’ve got this writing thing down and I have written like, I mean, I don’t even actually know how many books, like 30 something books. And then like, you know, but I’m about to start another one and I’m just like, I think I forgot how to write books, guys, like, every single time it’s like, I don’t remember if I know how to do this anymore.

Ali: I’ve just spent my writing processes. I spent two days having a mental breakdown before I actually sit down and write it in like half an hour. And I’m like, Oh, you know what? Actually, I feel pretty good. And Gus is like, for the past two days you’ve been like, I can’t write. I forgot ho. I’ve never written a sentence before in my life. And I’m like, It’s my process. It’s my process. I have to schedule two days of break down where I don’t write anything and I just pace and it’s very healthy. We highly recommend it. I think I feel that in my soul. I feel that in my soul. I know of Somebody who kept two different scripts on his desk. It was like Chinatown and Busty Aliens 2 or some, you know, some shit like that. And he was like, So when I feel my oats too much, I’ll read Chinatown and go, I’ll never be this good right now. And I’m what I’m like in that I can’t write. I have never written a sentence in my life. I pick up Busty Aliens 2, and I’m like, Well, okay, I definitely can write better than this.

Bree: Need to like, put Sharknado on the desk. So yeah, so I think Melanie Rawn would be my Falundir. Like, I don’t ever want to have to talk to her about writing, like that would that would traumatize me deeply.

Aradia: So yeah, I’m not a writer, but my mom is a musician and she has recorded albums and asked me to be on them as a singer.

Bree: That’s so intense.

Aradia: And yeah, it’s like I can sing, it’s fine, and then it’s like my mom’s like, No, I want this very specific quality of your voice and you got to sing these specific notes and it’s got to be this particular texture, and suddenly it’s like, urgh, like I can’t do this. And I mean, we got through it eventually, but it’s amazing. Yeah. I can empathize with the performance element, even though I’m not a written medium person, like it’s different when someone is watching and asking for a very specific product out of you.

Bree: Someone who you care about and want respect from too, so.

Ali: Yeah this is amazing actually, Gus’s father is an opera singer, like real opera singer. He sang at the Hollywood Bowl and stuff, like, he’s really good. And I made the mistake in front of him, like he he retired to take care of Gus when Gus was born. It’s all very sweet, but I made the mistake of mentioning to him, I just said in front of him that I sang opera in high school, that I did like a little opera training in high school. And now he’s like, We’d love to hear it some time. And I’m like, No, no, you never will. I’m not terrible, but I’m not good, like that good. I was like, No, no, I will never be singing that for you. I’d be way too embarrassed. So yeah, all of this to say I completely identified with this moment and this anxiety, and he went the second time, and it went a little better. And I was like, my second time would not go better. (laughs)

Bree: It’s a slow process. It is a slow process. But I believe they spend and, you know, I mean, they spend a few years in this cabin where basically Collan spends his time like hunting and gathering food. They grow it in the garden and they’re basically cut off from the rest of the world. And Falundir teaches him to play and, you know, to sing and basically turns him into a world class, like they realize his main character status.

Aradia: Right. And then gives him the lute and the scores, he like brings him up to like his own standard. And he’s like, you are now able to be my musical heir, carry on my work.

Bree: And then he goes into the village because he he’s like, What, 16, 17? I think at this point he’s probably yeah, he’s probably like 17.

Aradia: ‘Cause he’s 18 when they kick him out. So yeah, it has to happen when he’s 17.

Bree: And so he, you know, goes into this nearby village where they’re having a sort of spring festival.

Aradia: There’s girls.

Bree: Where there’s girls and he realizes that he’s hot.

Ali: We love that for him.

Aradia: Yes. Yes, I do love that for him, that he’s like, oh, wait.

Ali: When he mentions the young man strutting around without their coifs. All that sexy hair out for the public eye. It was a little scandalous.

Bree: So illicit. And he meets Agatine. Another name I have never had to, like, pronounce.

Ali: First he meets some, like, ten year old, who has a husband

Bree: Yes, a guy who is giving out the flowers, who is, I believe, Verald.

Ali: Something like that. Yes.

Bree: And Verald has got a promised, arranged marriage to – Verald is an older teenager with an arranged marriage to like this little ten year old. Which they mention is going to be a prejudice, because marrying a younger woman is apparently a prejudice that they have.

Ali: Ooooh.

Bree: That so? Yes, because, you know, why would you want to marry an older man?

Ali: I saw this thing the other day. Someone tweeted out that on Tinder and dating apps, you should be able to see the age range that the other person is going for.

Aradia: Hahaa!

Bree: That would reveal a lot.

Ali: I didn’t hate it as an idea.

Bree: And so that’s another one of those quiet, little things that like, you know, marrying a older or younger woman is kind of a taboo because, you know, why would women want to saddle themselves with an older partner? Because, you know, this is a different world.

Ali: There are a lot of young, coif less men walking around.

Bree: So, yes, they have a tradition where you give these first flowers to the, you know, prettiest girl you see. So Collan gives them to this little ten year old for Verald, gets some real stink eye from the ten year old’s mom, until he’s like No, no.

Ali: Well, I mean, if you’re the mother of a ten year old, someone gives your ten year old flowers. I would be like, why are you giving my ten year old flowers?

Bree: But he does get his first kiss from this ten year old.

Aradia: It’s so funny.

Bree: It’s really cute. Sticky, sticky. You know, candy.

Ali: Yeah, well, yeah, because she’s ten.

Aradia: She’s. It’s so innocent and cute and awkward. Awkward in the best way.

Bree: So. So, yeah. But then we have, like, some sad things. He, you know, there’s all these boys who are doing this thing where they take off their shirts and it’s like a ring toss. And if the girl throws the ring on to the bottle of wine, the guy has to jump into the water and then they get to go share the wine. And that’s when he sort of remembers that he’s got a slave tattoo, so he can’t take his shirt off. And that kind of kills the mood. But I think before that he meets Agatine, and Agatine’s little ward, Sarra, and has a little kick fight with another little kid.

Ali: And Sarra’s sassy. I like Sarra.

Bree: Sarra is definitely sassy.

Ali: I like Sarra.

Bree: She’s got some attitude with a capital A. They have immediate We hate you vibes. So, you think any of these people are coming back? Verald, the little ten year old, Sarra the sassy?

Aradia: Well, I assumed not, until you immediately recalled their names. And I’m like, Oh.

Bree: Do remember, I’ve been reading this book nonstop since I was like 15, which was 1995. So I actually know, like the names of literally everybody. I even know the names of most of the Saints, because I used to get all of my online names from the Calendar of Saints from this story.

Aradia: Oh, nice.

Ali: But Aradia! That was good First time reader-ing!

Bree: Yes. Yes. I may be throwing you off the track.

Aradia: You’re going to Bree light us?

Bree: I might be Bree lighting you. Okay. I’m going to admit, I know the ten year old’s name, too. It’s Sela. So I know everybody’s names.

Ali: I felt like we spent a lot of time at the market, and so I feel like the market, the people of the market are people to watch.

Aradia: Yeah, it did feel like, because he was finally meeting people his own age, and that seems relevant because we’re on this, his back story arc and like, you know, the people your own age are more likely to be part of your main character arc.

Bree: Yeah, the people a little bit older or a little bit younger than you are going to be the ones who are politically relevant at the time your main characterness becomes important. So I think that is good deduction.

Ali: Plus, I feel like if there’s minor interactions between them, you might later read back and go, Oh, look, they’re talking. You know, there might be some threads that you might…

Bree: Well, I mean who you got your first kiss from may be interesting later on.

Ali: I feel like Ten year old is going to be important. I feel like she was such a standout in a way, because it was so lingered on, and then also she gave her some really significant moments, like the kiss and the mention that, Oh, I know it’s unusual to marry a younger woman and be betrothed to a younger woman, but, you know, rich families do that kind of thing. I feel like she might be important.

Bree: And sassy Sarra. Because anybody who’s introduced being sassy is always important, right?

Aradia: Oh, yeah. You can’t introduce Sass and then not follow up with that. Like, that’s not bland. That’s a signpost.

Ali: I also feel like immediate hatred vibes gives me like, enemies to lovers? Ooh?

Bree: She’s a little baby right now. So, yeah.

Aradia: Well, there is a mysterious She that keeps getting referenced as being very sassy, and all of his thoughts throughout this thing. And yeah, every she character that came up, I’m like, is this the one? Is this going to be the one? Is this where she comes from?

Bree: Is this the sassy blooded lady? Speaking of both his reaction to the slave, remembering that the slave market’s there, also like one of those fast forward things is remembering he has a trauma response once, when this future blooded lady gives him a present that reminds him of being sold. So like, you know, this is something that’s going to linger. This is you know, he’s definitely got some damage.

Ali: I like that we’re honoring the things that damaged him. Do you know what I mean? Like, I think my big qualm with some series is that sometimes things will happen to characters and you don’t see the lasting effects of those things. And like certainly everybody handles trauma differently, and things hurt some people more than they hurt others and all that. You know, everything’s a spectrum, right? And there’s it’s like there’s hot nuance in the world or whatever. But I do think that there’s no way you can go through an experience like being owned by another person and not have that seriously impact you for the rest of your life in some way.

Bree: And it doesn’t have to be huge ways where you run around yelling, I was owned, shut up! But like it can be little things where someone gives you a present that hits a bad memory and you know, right?

Aradia: Like his thing with being dressed in a very specific way, he, like, has to have it all be his own and like, look. Yeah, like it’s a lingering life long trauma, right? But it also isn’t just like, And I’m a trauma dumpster and that is my entire arc! It’s just no, he dresses really nice and you think he’s just because he has aesthetic style and no, that’s a trauma response.

Ali: Yeah. Trauma responses can look positive.

Bree: To controlling. He let that controlling his appearance, to controlling how he looks and to nobody being able to put clothing on him that he doesn’t want, you know, like, yeah, it’s deeply like he’s obsessive about it. So yeah.

Aradia: And like, his body gets violated with the tattoo, that he’s, you know, gets told like, here’s how you can, like, have to, like, tan and basically burn it off with the sun. Yeah because it’s a tattoo. But like, also he got to keep his name, which I thought was interesting because like anyone who’s read Roots right, like the taking away of the name is like an important part of the enslavement narrative, right? Like, that’s literarily like what I expect. It’s like if you have an enslaved character, like the secret name versus the public name is part of how that goes. He just insists on keeping his name and his enslavers are just like, Meh.

Bree: I also love the way they said that. Here, I’m going to read that: He retained precisely one possession from the time before the wind and the brigands: his name. Though he was given a new one, he stubbornly clung to the only thing he owned. So after a few weeks of slaps, when he did not answer to the new name, they shrugged and gave in. He was only a little boy after all. He couldn’t be expected to learn as swiftly as an older child. And what did it matter what he was called, as long as he caused no trouble. It was the first of Collan’s victories and for many years was his last. It broke my heart. It’s like the one thing he managed to keep, but you know. But he kept it.

Ali: I’ve been thinking about the names a lot recently, just like the importance of them, how you’re you’re kind of given this name, right? But it becomes a big part of you like that. It’s so automatic that you respond to what you’re called. And I think it’s interesting, because I saw this thing where someone is talking to a lot of different women who had changed their last names.

And she mentioned one woman who had said that she was called her maiden name. She went back to a high school reunion and she was called her maiden name for the first time in, you know, 10, 20 years. And she was like, It felt like finding an old friend. It was like putting on my skin again. And I was just like, that’s such an amazing, interesting thing that the profound impact that names can have on you. And yeah, it’s such an important part of your identity. You know, I think it’s also interesting when people change their names during their life because it’s like they’re claiming a new identity and they’re like, This is actually who I am. And I think that’s also great. But like, it has to come from you.

Bree: Yes, you have to let people control. It’s just like the clothing. You have to let people control what you call them. Like, you know, you let people have their names, respect them and pronouns and everything like that. Like just do not, you know, tell other people who they are.

Ali: Yeah. What their names are. And I feel like that’s such a simple thing. It’s like when I was a teacher, people would all often try to nickname each other all the time, but when they were doing that, I would always look at the child who was being nick named, to go, Do you like that name? Is that what you want to be called? Because sometimes it’s like, Yeah, all right, you know, you want to call me Hannah Banana or whatever. And sometimes it’s very deeply hurtful. And I was like, Let me give this kid a chance to opt out of a nickname they might not want. You know, my last name became a big part of my journey as a person because, like, there were so many Alis when I was in school. We all went by our last names instead. And so the idea of changing my last name, you know, it just didn’t sit well. I couldn’t picture myself with a different last name. It’s just a huge, entrenched part of my identity. And Gus and I talked about him changing his last name and he felt the same way. And I was just like, Listen, I’ve grown up my whole life not having the same last name as a big bulk of my family because my parents are remarried. It doesn’t bother me. We don’t have to have the same last name to be a family, and that’s fine. But I feel like, yeah, and that was my choice. And meanwhile I have a another person in my life who really dislikes her dad. So changing her name to her husband’s last name was like a big win for her. And I’m like, Totally get that.

Aradia: That’s literally what I did. It’s literally what I did.

Bree: I use my maiden name as my online name. I was just like, I’m going to get myself a clean government ID with no Google history. I’m going to take that married name, going to use it for evil later.

Ali: Meanwhile, I’m like, If I have to do any extra paperwork in my life, I will cease to exist. So I Can’t.I would just never like I would just never do it. I know so many women, too, who have said they’re going to change your last names and they don’t because they’re like, it’s so much work.

Bree: It is a lot of paperwork. It is really annoying. But you know what? Now I have a clean government ID, so if I ever have to change my name and disappear, nobody will know how to find me.

Ali: But I did think it was so powerful that he was like, This is the thing. Even at four. Yeah, at four years old.

Aradia: Well, especially given what he lost. Right. Like that’s his only connection to his family that he… That’s the only connection to where he came from, who he came from.

Ali: Right. It’s like that’s the first thing your parents give you is your name. And life. I suppose. For what it’s worth. But they give you your name.

Bree: This is also a world which I think you can already sort of tell where names are pretty important. You talk about being named and they’re going to do this more in the first or further chapters talked about like being named for Saints or for people in your family. And like, your family name is everything because they’ve got these families that are, you know, basically the heart of this thing and these blood family is another thing. So names really matter. And he kept his but he gets a new one at the end of this section here after he goes to the party and goes home, he turns 18 and they get him his fake ID finally.

Aradia: He gets kicked out of the nest.

Bree: They get him all of this presents. This is a world where when turning 18, you get 18 presents.

Ali: So 24, 36?

Bree: Where’s my 43 presents?

Ali: Yeah, where’s my 30 presents?

Bree: I think you only get it at 18. But they get him, you know, his own clothes, perfectly fit to him. Some daggers, his lute, Falundir’s lute, a map and his fake not fake identity disc, which gives him a new last name, Rosvenir. And this is, I think, where the first time we see the tiers, second tier, which is presumably less than blood and how many tiers there are, I guess we will find out. But this speaks to a pretty sharp hierarchy, right?

Ali: Yeah. Well, like the owning of clothes and that kind of stuff. I mean, that’s so real. I don’t know. My mom, it was interesting. My mom, her mom, they didn’t have a lot of money and her mom had to make my mom’s prom dress. And that always embarrassed my mom because my mother was not like a good seamstress. It wasn’t like a cute thing. It was like, here’s some fabric. Go to prom. You know? Yeah. And it always, like, sat poorly with my mother. And she was so proud of the fact that all of us got to go to prom with, like, the dresses we wanted to wear. Like, that was a big thing for her. And I feel like that to me, I’m like, That makes a lot of sense because that’s also another big part of your identity. And when that kind of choice is taken away from you that sits with you. It is a unique kind of trauma, the identity trauma, where like things, your choices, your feelings are not – your identity as a whole is not respected or taken into account. It’s a whole thing. And it can become a big part of your story. So I like those little details about how he was gifted with things that were his own for the first time.

Aradia: Right. Yeah. They’re giving him the ability to have a self because they’re kicking him out of the nest. Right. They’re like, the cabin’s going to vanish in a puff of smoke. You’re never going to see us again. Like this is your square one for your adult life. But, like, they’re not making him start out with nothing, right? They’re giving him a name, they’re giving him weapons. They’re giving him a way to eat, they’re giving him clothes. It’s like we’re giving this to you so that you can survive.

Ali: They’re giving him physically his identity and they’re like, Here’s your here’s your identity, Here’s like clothes, things that you own. Here are skills that you now have so that you won’t be playing simpleton, balancing things in the street to eat. You have a future. They’ve basically given him a future because without an identity, he has none?

Aradia: Yeah. They’ve also made sure that he has to stay in main character status, because now he has a good flute, or lute. And he is going to be unable to not sing, which means he will come to the attention of antagonists and can fulfill his destiny as a protagonist.

Bree: Absolutely. So I have a question for you guys. Do you have any guesses like what the tiers are based on? Like what sort of hierarchy? What do we value in this world so far?

Ali: Well, there’s blood and there’s…

Bree: Maybe there’s a first tier, or maybe it goes blood second tier, but so there’s some sort of hierarchy. What do you think that they value?

Aradia: I mean, money and land has already been articulated, but presumably there’s more to it than that. Otherwise you just have tiers or just blood. The fact that there’s tiers and blood makes me think that there’s something other than material wealth. And given the context of this podcast, I’m suspecting it’s magic.

Ali: And it appears that there’s some kind of like matrilineal primogeniture.

Bree: Yeah, they did mention the first daughters like, So the first daughter of each family is the one who, like, inherits the bulk of everything and so like then you can have like a first daughter prime who is like the first daughter of the first daughter of the first daughter, you know. So like, that person is the one that gets everything.

Ali: First Daughter Prime I like that because that sounds like some kind of freaking transformer. I love it.

Bree: So, yeah, So the first daughters are the ones who definitely seem to have the most money and wealth.

Ali: Yes, it seems like. Yeah, the first. Yeah, it seems like that matters. And then also how much money you have matters. So there’s kind of, you know, almost seems like that conflict that like America and Europe ran into at one point, where once upon a time it was like, who your family was that mattered? And then all of a sudden, like the Industrial Revolution and all this stuff comes up and a mercantile class emerges and all of a sudden you’re like, okay, so we are the best? But they might have more money than us. So like, are we tied? No, they’re going to be slightly lesser than us?

Aradia: Old money versus new money?

Bree: So you think the tiers are sending their rich debutante sons out to, like, catch themselves a hot blooded lady?

Ali: I think there might be some, like, tension between those things because it’s like, okay, what matters more? Your blood or your money? Is it like Look down upon that they work for it, you know, or that they’ve had to punch a bunch of murder cards for it? And then the other thing that stands out to me is there is some class nobility. There’s some because like this guy, the one with no tongue and no fingers.

Bree: Falundir.

Ali: Falundir said they started out as a slave and similarly to Collan, worked his way up. So there is some class mobility. It’s not just blood.

Bree: Yes, that is true. There’s definitely talent that can, you know, overcome.

Aradia: Right. And like, it seemed like it was saying that the tiers are separate from the peasants, too. So it’s not like all of society is organized into tiers. It’s like there’s blood and then everybody else, which. Yeah, I’m digging this old money, new money thing. I’m digging that. It’s a cutthroat, ladder climbing sort of thing to get to the height of the blood, like up the tiers or something.

Ali: Versus the old money where they’re like – to me, it’s funny, because like, new money stereotypically tends to be the ones who are like rude to their workers and things like that because, I proved myself. I had to work my way up, so I’m going to reap the benefits. Whereas the old money folks are more removed from reality people where they’re like, My servants are family, but also like, doesn’t everyone have a boat? You know?

Bree: It’s like, well, we did meet a couple blooded ladies, Lady Lilen, who was the one who was going to help Collan originally, and she seemed very: My servants are my family. Doesn’t everyone have a sea house that we can send the Bard to.

Ali: Yeah. She’s giving Where do you summer? But also. Yeah, hopefully better to work for.

Bree: I’m going to tell you just cause I don’t think it’s a spoiler. She has four homes.

Ali: Of course she does. Of course she does!

Bree: And she does summer in one of them. So. Yeah.

Ali: And she’s like, So if you don’t have a second home, where do you keep your ski gear? Like that.

Bree: So that’s, that’s Lady Lilen. And we met Agatine, Lady Agatine, and then Sarra was also called a blooded lady. Sassy Sarra.

Ali: Oh, sassy Sarra was? Okay, so that’s giving,…

Bree: But that could be a ward. I think she was introduced as Agatine’s Ward.

Ali: So, so she is an orphan?

Bree: Maybe.

Ali: Because like there are different reasons you would take a ward, right? Like, like in the traditional sense they have no parents or they have some kind of deal with you where they’re like, we want an alliance. So you raise our son, you know. Then you’ll be attached to him. And so you won’t attack us someday because you’ll be attached to us in some way. Or, I don’t know, for some reason, her parents can’t raise her.

Bree: Those are like usually – I think orphans are a big one, or we’ve got plots, family plots together.

Ali: So like either the subject of someone’s plan or she’s an orphan, which, Collan’s an orphan.

Aradia: Because there’s the range of exchange student through hostage, there’s a variety of ways that can go.

Bree: That is also one: exchange student through hostage. (laughs)

Ali: Which is always an interesting route because it’s like, we’re growing attached to each other. It’s hard not to get attached to a child, right? But also like, you’re here for a nefarious reason.

Bree: I mean, if we don’t know a lot about Agatine, we know that she’s hot and she was pretty polite to Collan. Collan thought she was hot at least, that she and her ladies ride through the woods. And it’s a very exciting thing to watch.

Ali: And she seemed to have a friendly relationship with Sarra because she was scandalized by what she was saying.

Bree: She was exasperated, I think is the tone.

Ali: But she never, like, hit her or anything. You know what I mean? I know that’s a very low bar for being a nice person, not hitting a kid, but like.

Bree: Her husband did come in and I think picked Sarra up by the belt like, okay, it’s time.

Ali: But that is more of a humorous moment than a threatening moment.

Bree: That was Orlan I believe, Orlan Renne, there are a couple Renne brothers.

Aradia: Yeah. The whole interaction seemed very friendly and not like there was a lot of tension in it. Like less hostage, more exchange student.

Ali: Yeah, she clearly wasn’t afraid of them.

Bree: Oh, they say Sarra’s name: Sarra Liwellan.

Ali: Sarra Liwellan. That’s cute. So is Liwellan her last name? Because that’s a clue.

Bree: Yes.

Ali: Okay. Sarra Liwellan. But Agnatha, or whatever her name is?

Bree: Slegin. Slegin or Slegine. Slegin.

Ali: They don’t have the same last name.

Bree: They do not. But Orlin Renne is her husband, so I think you can assume that the men do not take the women’s names, because he was introduced as Orlin Renne, still.

Ali: Another sly thing. They’re not taking each other’s last names. I’m assuming, because this is a matriarchy. Your mother’s last name is what matters.

Bree: Yes, that sounds like a good idea, like you don’t get to give up your mother’s name.

Aradia: Right? Right.

Bree: So Yeah. Collan gets his presents and then something happens. The Magic Man makes him forget.

Aradia: Thaaat part.

Bree: So there’s one line in here, at the end of this: A voice he had never heard before, and couldn’t really hear now, said, “You’re hurting him, Gorsha. He’s fighting. After all the preliminary work I did, he still—all right, that’s got it.” Thick black velvet muffled the light. As it wrapped sleep around it, a voice murmured, Little singer, grown so tall… thank you for these years. But it’s time you were on your own. My music is safe in your keeping. We will meet again… I promise we will meet again, son of my heart.

So, do you guys think, Falundir was somehow talking to him there?

Aradia: Yeah, definitely.

Bree: Because, I mean, that’s the only thing that really makes sense to me. But I have never been 100% sure.

Ali: Kind makes me wonder about that magic wind again. And like, the fact that he’s like, I don’t really remember much from that day, but I know I was knocked over by wind.

Aradia: Suspicious.

Bree: So clearly memory tampering is on the table.

Ali: Memory tampering is on the table. Suspicious. Falundir was definitely attached to this kid.

Bree: Very much so.

Ali: But why? Why him? Why did they rescue him from a horrible thing?

Aradia: It makes me wonder, too, if Falundir is more than he seems. Right? Is this some sort of like the god of music incarnated kind of situation, you know? And now he’s passing off his gifts to an actual human who can actually carry that on.

Ali: Woah!

Aradia: It’s a voice of God kind of moment! Like there’s a lot of Saints, maybe there’s a saint of music.

Bree: There’s something really magical going on in this moment. I mean, a man who can’t talk is speaking in his head. And we don’t really know who Gorynal Desse is either, for sure. I mean, he’s the magic man. He’s our Gandalf. You know, mysterious magic man who keeps popping up doing crazy stuff. I mean, any ideas about how he fits into the larger picture?

Ali: Well, I think he saved his life as a four year old. I think he must have been involved in that. But the question is like, why? And what’s with the armband? Because they were like, that’s the clue of what my mother was So clearly, his mother was something important, right? Like a witch or something, Right. Where it was like, don’t fuck with my kids, they’ve got armbands. I’ll send my witchy powers after you, which might be why they burned them alive. But yeah, I think I’m like, what is he, his father? What is the importance of this particular boy to this particular man? And then he comes in and saves him at the last minute. Why are these balls the balls that matter?

Aradia: Right. Because it does seem like he doesn’t just show up and pick this kid out of the slave quarters at 13 randomly. It’s like he knew about him. He was watching him. Who’s to say that that doesn’t go back to when he was four, or when he was conceived, or when his parents first met. Or, like Magic Man could be folding time, so that way he’s been around for 500 years managing this for all we know, like he could be from another dimension where it’s non-Euclidean timelines, like, why does he care about this kid? It has to be cosmic. He feels like an agent of Cosmos.

Bree: Definitely a lot of political stuff going on as he keeps trying to tell Collan, even though Collan doesn’t care. So he’s busy. So like, he’s taking time out of whatever weird political stuff is happening, to come make sure this little music kid doesn’t, you know, run off, chasing him around. So there’s something going on there.

Aradia: Yeah. I feel like he’s working for a third party or for himself. I feel like he’s not, like, clearly aligned with any of the mysterious powers we’re getting a sense of over the horizon to feel like he’s playing for a third side.

Ali: Is someone organizing all of this? Are we getting together a group of extraordinary children?

Bree: Oooh! I mean, we do have three more points of view, where we’re going to speedrun some more background. So I guess we’re going to find out who these other people are.

Ali: The prophecy foretold that we would have four extraordinary children from different backgrounds.

Bree: So since we’re at the end, I mean, Collan wakes up, he doesn’t remember, you know, he doesn’t remember basically anything. He has a headache. He thinks he drank all that mead by himself. He knows he has a map. He knows he’s a minstrel. He knows that Agatine is known for, you know, giving good money to musicians because he’s got his little map of good places to play. So he trots off. His section ends: Snow quietly buried the stone behind the young man who no longer remembered the wind.

Aradia: What a line. In your Hunger Takes, that’s the shot taking line. “No longer remembered the wind.” Ugh! Kill me.

Bree: Yeah. Melanie Rawn!

Ali: Flip that table over. We’re done writing for the day. Yeah. If you come up with a line like that, that’s the moment where you’re like, well the writing is only going to get worse from here, so I’m going to put it down. I don’t know if that’s true for you, Bree, but when I write a really good line, I’m like, I’m going to end it here because this is my line.

Bree: End on a triumph.

Ali: End on a triumph. End on a, Yeah, fuck yeah. And then you’re like, All right, now it’s time to close. Because you don’t want to end on a wet fart line. It’s not fun.

Bree: Well, that was, that was a shot line right there. He doesn’t remember the winds.

Aradia: But he doesn’t remember anything about himself. And then he runs into people he met. Isn’t that going to be awkward?

Bree: You know what, it might be? We might find out.

Ali: He’s going to run into Sarra because he’s going to Agatine’s!

Aradia: Right? Exactly. I’m just like, is it wise to wipe a man’s mind and then send him into a place where people know him?

Bree: I mean, that is the question. Unless there’s some greater conspiracy, do you think other people might know who he is, too?

Aradia: Hmm, I mean, that would be awkward. Oh, you’re the only person with copper hair in this whole continent. Clearly, you’re the savior.

Bree: Well, we do know he’s got the red hair. The main character red hair.

Ali: We got to have that red hair they got it.

Bree: That is a 90s thing. That is a 90s thing. Red hair, Main character.

Ali: The 90s loved a redhead.

Aradia: Yeah, Especially if it’s curly.

Bree: Yes, yes, yes.

Ali: Curly red. Yeah, I think, I think he’s got to meet Sarra there and he’s not going to remember the fight, which is going to be awkward. So she’s going to be like, I don’t like you. And he’s going but I don’t know you, weirdo. Yeah. Why did they take the wind out of his memory? Like, why did that matter?

Aradia: Because they caused it. It must have been because they caused it; they must have expunged everything about themselves. Because I was thinking too, earlier in the chapter, it says, you know, like the whole flashback about him having a freak out over a Gift. That means he does remember parts of his life, right? He can explain.

Bree: Yeah. They, they, they’ve surgically taken out very specific things, it seems. We don’t know exactly what, we just know it’s I mean, presumably him learning from Falundir in this cabin. He knows he’s a musician. He knows he was a slave. We don’t know exactly what has been taken.

Aradia: So maybe he will remember Sarra.

Bree: He clearly has enough left to, you know, be careful and to remember some of his trauma. They took the wind away from him, and we know that’s how he picked his birthday. I don’t know if you guys caught that?

Aradia: Right! Yeah.

Bree: The Saint who is in charge of the winds. Yeah. He picked his birthday for that Saint. So that’s like a big thing to take away. Actually, that memory.

Aradia: So he knows that that’s when his birthday is, but not why. Arghh!

Bree: So. So do you think he’s going to get all these memories back?

Ali: I think about, if you woke up and had no memories. I’d have a massive freak out.

Bree: Well, he clearly has a lot of memories. Like, it seems like he just has enough memories to not know that he’s missing some memories. So that’s like, almost worse. They took away some of his memories, and he doesn’t even know what’s not there.

Aradia: Right? Yes. I feel like the memories have to come crashing back in at some point. They’ve been very much sealed away, but like, they’re still there. And I feel like maybe, you know, he’s going to meet one of them and then it’s all going to come back all at once. He’s going to walk through some doorway and like the illusions that have been on his mind since he was a one year old are going to get blanked out because, reasons. It has to come back, he can’t just never remember the years in the cabin. That would be mean!

Bree: That would be terrifying, that would be sad.

Ali: Don’t be silly, Melissa. Is her name Melissa? Melissa Rawn?

Bree: Melanie.

Ali: Melanie. Oh, Jesus. I was between the two. Melanie: Don’t be silly. Those are coming back. Melanie, please.

Bree: Okay, I am going to now. I was saving this. I was. I dithered over when to tell you guys this, but I decided I’d save it for the podcast. I’m going to issue you guys a challenge now. This book is actually – and I don’t even think you can Google this, or you may be able to, but please don’t Google this – is kind of based on a fan fiction of a very popular franchise, that I know you’ve both heard of. And so while you’re reading the book, your challenge is to see if you can figure out which one. And it’s something where, you know it follows some of the very broadest strokes. It’s not like it’s like a scene for scene rip off. The worldbuilding is all extremely unique. It’s like way AU. But it was originally way back in the seventies. So there’s your timeline, kind of a fanfic. So this is my challenge to you and to our listeners. And I don’t think listeners will be able to Google this unless they’re really lucky because I tried it, tried to Google it and the franchise. Nothing seems to come up. So if anyone – the first person who figures it out, I’m going to give you some sort of prize.

Ali: I’m going with X-Men.

Bree: I’m not going to tell you, but you’re not right yet.

Aradia: Well, it’s not Wheel of Time, I know that.

Bree: It’s not Wheel of Time.

(all laugh)

Ali: I was going with X-Men because I was like extraordinary children, all coming together.

Bree: I mean, you kind of hope that. Right? And speaking of which, for next week, we are going to read about another extraordinary child. Glenin is the section for our, for next time. I do think her name popped up once in this first section. I’m not sure if any of you guys caught it. It was during Gorynel Desse’s politics dump, when he said that Maichin Ambrai had gotten divorced from her husband, and her husband took their daughter Glenin, and went to be the First Counselor’s BFF.

Ali: I did notice it, because that name is not dissimilar from Gus’s grandmother’s name, and I read it out loud. I was like, Oh, Glenin.

Bree: So that is who we are going to Speedrun for next time.

Aradia: Nice. Yeah, I notice it because like literally the first page of the book is a little blurb about all the three perspectives, aside from the one we just read? Which is kind of like, Oh, I’m like, okay, these are names to pay attention to. And I turn the page and get to the chapter, and it’s none of those three names. I’m like, I’m confused, but okay.

Bree: This is, I will say, broadly a book about sisters – and Collan.

Aradia: Yeah, it’s like, this is a book about girls! But it starts out with this boy, having this, like boy experience and like, okay.

Bree: But I will say that I believe she started out because she was sort of going in chronological order from oldest to youngest.

Ali: I’m like, Fine, we will allow the boy.

Bree: So there’s going to be some overlapping time. And each point of view is going to take us a little further into the future, until the final one will bring us to where we start a more normal fantasy. So more, instead of speed running back stories, we will get to part two and then it will just sort of take off like a fantasy novel.

Aradia: It’s a hell of a way to start a book, with four vignettes of context.

Bree: Yeah, this is one reason I have had a lot of trouble, and I’m going to admit it, like getting people to, like, read this book because it is. It is… I bounced off it a couple of times, I think, originally until I got into it and then when I got into it, it was like, Holy crap. But I feel like if there’s any fandom to ask to give some book 200 pages to heat up, it’s the Wheel of Time fandom! We make this ask of everybody all the time. So, please people out there, give this book 200 pages to heat up.

Aradia: Yeah. If you’ve ever told someone that Wheel of Time picks up in book four, you owe it to Bree to read the first 200 pages of this book.

Bree: Yes.

Aradia: Yeah. And like, I’ll admit, like, I was bouncing off of it at first because I’m like, these words aren’t sticking. I don’t know why I care, but I’m like, I’m just powering through for the sake of that promise. Having read Wheel of Time and recommended it, I’m like, I’m just trusting. I’m just putting my trust in Bree.

Bree: I hope it pays off. If not, we will have the most torturous podcast, but?

Aradia: It’ll be fine. It’ll be fun.

Ali: I’m enjoying it. I feel like it’s good. I mean, I am a little bit like, what is the overall import of all of this? But I don’t necessarily need to know right this second. You know what I mean? Because I feel like the world building is keeping my attention enough, and the stakes are still there, even if I’m not clear on what the ultimate goal is? I’m still like, oh, well, I don’t want him to go back into slavery. That would be bad. So definitely, and I don’t want you to lose your balls, so please definitely get out of that situation.

Bree: I think that’s going to be interesting, too, as we go through each successive one of these sections, is we’re going to get more and more Leonardo DiCaprio pointing at the screen. Because now you know some of these people. So if they start to appear in different contexts in future segments, you know, we’re going to start to get this interwoven tapestry of their lives, which I think is, you know, I mean, for me, rereading, it’s always like amazing. I’m like, wow, I never noticed how many of these people pop up, you know, So it’s, I think will be fun to see who pops up again in Glenin!

Ali: Seeds. have been planted already. SEEDS.

Aradia: Yes, Yes, very much so. I mean, I love I mean, like I said, at the top, I run the Wheel of Time Spoilers podcast. The whole point of that podcast is a four dimensional reread where you know everything that’s happening and can see all those little things. So it is delightfully fascinating to be on the other side of that, reading it like, I don’t know!

Bree: Yes. And this book rewards that kind of deep dive. So I am really looking forward to it.

Aradia: Yeah, I’m super into it. If I was picking this up in an abused bookstore and seeing if I wanted to read it, I don’t know that I would hang on to it at this point. But in this context, I’m very, very intrigued.

Ali: I’m down. Well, let’s read.

Bree: Let’s read, and hopefully you guys out there will read with us, and come talk to us. Come answer the questions, tell us what you think the Tiers are. And if you know the secret fanfic origin. Just tell me that, I guess! Don’t tell anyone else. Don’t spoil!

Aradia: Yeah. Or just, you know, listen along and laugh at us. Making ridiculous predictions that don’t that don’t make sense, because you’ve already read these. That’s an option too. This is good for rereaders too. First time reader podcasts are super fun for rereaders as well. So, hopefully we’re providing some strange entertainment for you.

Bree: You are already both doing a great job at being both right and wrong. So in all the best ways.

Ali: Good. I like your Music God theory.

Bree: Yeah. Music God is pretty cool.

Ali: Wait, what if he’s the Saint Whatever?

Aradia: The Wind Saint?

Bree: Ohhh. Valin, Veleen? Yeah, I don’t remember.

Aradia: He actually just came out of the wind and just got dropped there.

Bree: Calendar of Saints….

Ali: It’s a bunch of Saints.

Bree: I can look at the Calendar of Saints in the back

Ali: The Saints were important!

Aradia: I do love a good Gods Walking Among Men sort of thing.

Bree: Oh, Lirance. Lirance Cloudchaser is the wind person, First Moon, but there is a V one. You caught that, Velenne the Bard.

Ali: Velenne the Bard!

Bree: Saint of Bards.

Ali: He’s Velenne the Bard.

Bree: So good job on…

Aradia (quietly): Velenne the Bard.

Ali: I’m going with Velenne the Bard. Final answer!

Bree: Basically each of the weeks have a name, and Velenne the Bard is the week 34, which is the Never Sun, which is sort of a portentous week name.

Aradia: And is it the number of days in a year is different in this world? It’s like 380? Instead of 65.

Bree: I think so.

Aradia: Like what in the what?

Bree: Well, this is not our world for sure, sure, sure. Yeah. I don’t want to go off too much into like my own little tangent, but I actually had a lot of fun with the series we’re working on now, literally building a world and then building a calendar. And I payed a scientist, a space and geologist scientist, to reverse engineer me a world with two moons, where one moon had a 40 day, a 50 day cycle and one moon had a ten day cycle, so that I could make those my weeks and my months. I was like, I’m thinking ahead for easy math here.

Ali: Wooow! Math is mathing.

Aradia: Very cool!

Bree: And boy, this world has the craziest tides. She made me like a tide chart of this world. It’s a goofy.

Ali: So, question. I had a question. What are the other Saints? Throw some Saints my way now, that I think he’s the Bard guy.

Bree: So, Shepherds Moon is week 2, is Lusine and Lusir the Twins. The Lady Moon is Gelenis First Daughter. So they name people after Saints a lot. So Glenin, you can assume, was named after Gelenis First Daughter. Ilsevet’s Moon is Ilsevet Waterborn. The Spring Moon is an equinox, there’s no Saints on the equinox. So being born then, with no saint is sort of chancy. Seeker’s Moon is Alilen the Seeker; Lovers Moon is Imili the Joyous. Yeah. Lilen, you caught Lilen.

Ali: Maybe there – Is there a reason why there’s no Saint of the equinox? I feel like I will find out.

Bree: They may say, I’m not sure.

Ali: I’m smelling the antagonis.

Bree: Something going on there, where there’s, like there’s no saintly protection and it’s like sort of bad luck. Another one that is sort of relevant. First Flowers, which is that festival that they were at, First Flowers. Sirrala the Virgin, which is who Sarra is named after.

Ali: Interesting!

Bree: So, interesting. Thieves Moon is Pierga Cleverhand. I was Saint Pierga on every AOL Instant Messenger, because I love to name myself after thieves on… I was always a rogue girl.

Ali: Ooh good, give us a little rogue girl. Give us a rogue girl.

Bree: I’m looking. Oh, Rosebloom is a fun one. Geridon the Stallion. Geridon the Stallion.

Ali: Tell me you named yourself.

Bree: (laughs) There is one character in here, who praises Saint Geridon whenever she sees a handsome, handsome fellow that she would like. I’m looking to see if there’s any other characters relevant here. Gorynel the Compassionate. Gorynel the Compassionate is who Gorynel Desse is named after. Nettle-and-Thorn is his week. I actually think I’m gonna go make a list of these characters and I will give guys the Saints for next time. Because I don’t want to read all 36 Saints, but I’m going to get these, because that was a really smart thing to ask. So I’m going to be prepared next time.

Ali: I just feel like there’s something there. I just feel like there could be clues, because they talked about the Saints a lot.

Bree: Also, I think we’re going to get a Discord together, and I may put the Saints in there, separate from any spoilery thing and pin them somewhere. By the time this releases, you will know and it will be in the notes.

Ali: But yeah, I’m digging this. This is a lot of fun. But I feel like the Saints are important, I’m a Saints truther.Something’s going on there.

Bree: I mean, in a world with magic, you’ve always got to wonder where the gods came from, right? Like, who do we worship? Do we worship these earlier powerful magic people?

Ali: Melanie really said, What if Gods were one of us, you know?

Aradia: Mm hmm. Yeah, totally.

Bree: True 90s vibes.

Ali: So just a stranger on a bus. You guys, the Busker God, he’s busking in the subway, and we have no idea he’s Jesus. I’m feeling it.

Aradia: Yeah, yeah. Classic.

Ali: A classic busker on a subway, but he’s actually Jesus kind of vibe.

Bree: Beautiful. Okay, you guys are reading Glenin for next week and hopefully, so are some of our listeners.

Ali: For those of you following along, that’s pages 49 to 94 in the e-book. Thank you so much for listening. If you want to keep gabbing with us, our social media and contact details are in the episode description. Until next time, have a very nuanced day!