Welcome to episode 15 of the Hot Nuance Book Club, where it’s time for the Rising in The Ruins of Ambrai. Aradia and Ali are both pro- this particular murder, but are divided on the reality of Wraiths. Bree is here to make us sad about spacecraft and announce a virtual book release, and she’s all out of spacecraft.
Star Trek V’GER clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TP1Zg3ivX80
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The Ruins of Ambrai, Rising parts 1-4: Soggy Bowls of Tapioca Hallucinating Calculus
0:00:10 Introduction and welcome
Ali: 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, most recently for Rugrats, and also the co-host of Wheel Takes podcast, and the creator of the Grinwell Cup on Twitter, which is a yearly March Madness bracket where we determine definitively who the hottest character in the Wheel of Time is.
Aradia: I am Aradia. I am one half of the Wheel of Time Spoilers podcast, which is now done with Crossroads of Twilight! So Happy. And we’re about to move on to show coverage episodes, which is going to be the rest of our year. We’ll be returning to Knife of Dreams in 2024. So that’s pretty fun. And I am a podcast producer for Fox and Raven Media.
Bree: And I’m Bree –
Ali: Currently we’re nuancing our way through the Ruins – Oh, Jesus Christ.
Bree: The first time you were so on top of it.
Ali: It’s the first time ever.
Bree: It’s amazing. That’s okay. We don’t have to introduce me. I’m just here, existing. Half of Kit Rocha, doing edits on the Horny Dragon Book part two.
Bree: First one comes out in November, so I’m very excited about that.
Ali: Wait, really quickly, I would say as a ringing endorsement of the Horny Dragon book that Gus hasn’t been able to put it down since he started it, and I am very impatient for him to finish it. But he went on many rants about how good this book is. So, very excited to read it.
Bree: Very high compliments.
Ali: Currently we’re nuancing our way through the Ruins of Ambrai. So if you haven’t read that yet, go do that and come back when you have. For the rest of you, let’s break it down now.
0:01:40 Bree’s Time Travel Adventures
Bree: It’s time to jump into Bree’s mostly reliable time travel machine. We are headed back to 1994, where I have some fun news! (swoosh sound effect)
After the Church of England was like, Yay, girls can be ordained, Pope John Paul the second was like, No, only boys for us real Catholics!, which I think might have been the reason that all the matriarchal leaning Catholics fled to space. What do we think? Is that how this book happened? Could be?
Ali: Oh, I like it.
Aradia: I like it. Yeah.
Bree: Conspiracy theory here. Yeah.
Ali: I like the origin story.
Bree: Heather Whitestone of Dothan, Alabama, became the first deaf Miss Alabama, and then she became our first deaf Miss America in 1995, which I think is pretty cool.
Aradia: That’s awesome.
Bree: So, yay for Alabama.
Ali: That’s really awesome. I didn’t know that. 1995, and Alabama! Yay, Alabama.
Bree: And after a five year mission, scientists in 1994 had to say goodbye to the Magellan space probe, which took all sorts of amazing pictures of Venus for us. And they said goodbye by gently guiding it into the atmosphere of Venus, where it apparently, you know, we assume, eventually crashed on the surface. And I have put a poster in here for you guys to look at from 1994 that commemorated the farewell to our robot friend. It says, Carpe atmospherem. And remind me to put it in the discord, too.
Aradia: Oh, R.I.P. Magellan.
Bree: Yeah, it is Magellan catching on fire as it drifts down towards the surface of Venus, which is – I get very emotional.
Aradia: There’s like little screws and nuts and bolts falling off. Aww.
Ali: I get very emotional about the robots we send it to space. I can’t think too hard about it. I, you know, like wasn’t there one that was kind of aware-ish in a way? That made me sad.
Aradia: Curiosity sings Happy birthday to itself every year.
Ali: Yes, that makes me sad.
Bree: No, it was whatever one that had its batteries failing and it was like, Batteries failing, Good night, or whatever.
Ali: And it was aware of its dying.
Bree: We were all very emotional.
Aradia: That was another one of the Mars rovers.
Ali: There are so many where I’m just like, Stop! I can’t. I can’t.
Aradia: I love it though.
Bree: I can’t remember what – it’s a sports website, which is why I can’t remember what it is – SB Nation maybe? And one year they did this science fiction story about the space probes, like different space robots and probes and stuff becoming sentient far in the future. Have you guys read this?
Aradia: No, but I do remember there’s an episode of Star Trek where they find one of the Voyager probes and it has gotten upgraded with alien technology and has become sentient. And it calls itself V’ger because some of the letters have worn off. But like, it’s Voyager.
Bree: Oh, that’s cool. Now this is a fiction story that they put on the website. It’s sort of interactive. And they all become sentient. And one of the things they do is that, like, this is so many tens of thousands of years in the future that humans have eventually evolved to become impervious to harm and immortal, and they just play these games of football. Like, games of football where they run across the country trying to like, you know, getting swept up into tornadoes and like playing this crazy football. And it’s like, the space probes watch them. So it’s a sports story, but it’s hilarious and you should go find it. I will figure out if I can get a link to it and put it in the notes, or the discord. It is one of the weirdest things I’ve ever read, and I kind of love it, because I love the idea of those space probes just, you know, 10,000 years, looking down at Earth, making fun of humans. So R.I.P. Magellan.
Aradia: Ah, science.
0:05:40 Rising, chapter 1
Bree: Okay, so back to 1994, Melanie Rawn said it’s time for righteous murder. So let’s go, you guys. What did you think of our reading for the day?
Aradia: Stabby, stabby. Stabby, stabby. Stabby, stabby. I loved it.
Ali: Not the person I expected to die. I’m still holding out a candle for, what’s her face? Murder Punch Card Lady.
Ali: I just keep going, Your time, your card will be punched at some point. But I am happy about this turn of events. I hate Scraller. I think he sucks eggs and I think he got what was coming to him.
Bree: Yes. Happy. Happy. Well, that’s part four. So we’ll get to there. We should go back to part one. This is, we’ve started our – like I said last time when we talked about fight or flight, they were in the flight portion. Now we have come to the fight portions. So they are sort of slowing down a little bit to take a beat and think, which with this crowd I feel like is probably a good idea.
Aradia: First time ever.
Ali: I always think thinking is a good idea.
Bree: So what do you guys think about part one?
Bree: Anything jump out? Any first thoughts you just want to yell about?
Aradia: It’s a lot of Cailet development.
Ali: There’s a lot of Cailet development. Can we clarify for me what it is they’ve realized about the Ladders? I hope this doesn’t make me sound super dense.
Aradia: I feel like it was that they worked out that the Ladders are far more recently created than everyone’s been led to believe.
Aradia: Which I feel ties in with what happens later with the weird old lady who’s obsessed with figuring out that they came from space, and the whole timeline of this world is really being thrown into question in this section. And everything we thought we knew about, the history, is kind of like a little fuzzy now. So I think that that’s what they discovered, is that the Ladders are actually a very modern recent invention, that they have been lied to into thinking that it’s an ancient, archaic system.
Ali: Ooh, okay, this makes more sense, because I was just kind of like, Come again?, about what they were going through. But I think partially it’s because I am reading a book at the exact same time where they’re realizing everything they had been told is a lie and that everything is older than they think it is, and nothing works the way that it should. And everything’s fuzzy. And so I was reading this and I went, This can’t possibly be happening to me two days in a row.
Bree: It may be.
Ali: So I was kind of like, Am I getting this right or am I just in the other book’s mood and deciding that that’s what that means?
Bree: Well, okay, we open – remember the last time we left Lady Lilen’s house, there was a pregnant lady and a bunch of dead bodies – and we have returned and the pregnant lady has gone away with her.
Ali: She has just died, right?
Bree: She has died. We’re not doing good.
Aradia: Two birth and death moments.
Ali: We’re two for two with maternal death in the world with a matriarchy. That’s not a great look for the matriarchy.
Aradia: But I do feel like, at least in this case, she didn’t die of the sads. She died of being hiked to like three different locations in the middle of a sword fight while actively laboring. So there’s that.
Ali: I mean, if the matriarchy is not prepared for this eventuality, how good of a matriarchy is it?
Bree: Yeah, it was not a peaceful birthing, we can say. It was like a week of, Don’t have that baby, don’t pop that baby out. Don’t pop that baby out.
Ali: I’m just saying, if I were Glenin, I’d be real nervous.
Bree: Yeah, well, I mean, me too. I will say that I feel like sci fi fantasy needs to do something to address maternal health care.
Ali: I just. I need pregnancy – I want one book where someone’s pregnant and that’s just all. They’re just like, She just happens to be, it’s fine. Everything goes well.
Bree: It feels like if there was any series where you were going to have the top notch maternal birthing health care, it would be one where somebody’s literal value in the hierarchy and society depends on whether or not they can pop out babies. That’s the number one thing that we’re giving people rank for, we’re not going to spend a lot of time making sure that it’s safe?
Ali: I like, I’m with the second one and I get that the first one was an homage.
Bree: It wasn’t really an homage.
Aradia: It was a prediction.
Bree: If you think about it, the prequels hadn’t come out yet, so Padmé hadn’t died of the sads yet. So really, this was a prediction.
Ali: She nailed it.
Bree: Yes, she really did. Or George Lucas copied her. I don’t know. It’s just, you know, I don’t think so, but maybe.
Ali: He was like, I wasn’t sure what to do with her, but now!
Bree: Dies of the sads!.
Aradia: And then we also have another baby being secreted away. Some Mage baby being secreted away, so that way, once Cailet is too old to be Captal at like the ripe old age of 28 or whatever, they’ll have a new 14 year old to shove all the info into.
Ali: We’ve just decided that this baby’s going to get this information shoved into, haven’t we? We just decided we’re like, You know what? The best thing to do, always the best thing to do, is just shove a bunch of information in an unsuspecting tween’s head This is the way.
Aradia: Especially if they’re an orphan whose mother died as their umbilical cord was being cut.
Ali: Well, yeah, because what parent’s going to consent to this.
Bree: Lady Lilen?
Aradia: Yeah, I don’t know. I just. I just think, Oh, we’re just going to squirrel the boy away. And Cailet’s like, Huh? I wonder if I’m going to run into him in 14 years. I’m like, Wow. Okay. So that something like that would probably happen in book 3 when that gets written, right?
Ali: Something like that. I mean, how long do they think Cailet’s going to be around?
Bree: How good is my poker face? I will say that book 2 is like a generational skip, basically.
Aradia: You did say that.
Bree: If it comes back, it comes back in book 2.
Ali: Okay. Uh-oh.
Bree: I again caution people: Book 1 ends in a nice happy place. That’s why we’re reading it. If you pick up book 2, it goes into a wild cliffhanger and there’s no book 3. So I did warn you. And I do feel like in some ways like this is just like such a better standalone book because some of the stuff in book 2 almost sort of retcons book 1 a little bit. So I feel like this is a great standalone. So that’s why I thought it would be okay to read like that.
Ali: I’m enjoying it.
Bree: So yes, they have taken away the babies and Tamsa and the kitten and the puppy – or I don’t know about the puppy, but –
Bree: And they have turned the bodies into mulch. Ali, your favorite people showed up.
Ali: I thought you were talking about the baby and the puppy and the kitten into mulch. And I was like, I missed that!
Aradia: No, just the asshole Guardians.
Ali: Okay, that’s fine. Mulch away.
Bree: No. Elin Alvassy showed up with her brother Pier. So Elin is May’s sister.
Ali: Finally, we figured out where this chick is. We’ve been missing her for 500 pages. Where you been, girly?
Bree: So. And her brother is the one who suggests that they mulch all of the Council Guards. So that’s what they do. Elin digs up the backyard, Pier turns them all into mulch. And so we have hidden the dead bodies.
Ali: Those cactuses are about to pop off.
Aradia: Yeah. Seriously. Wow. Your garden is doing good.
Ali: And is that how we create Audrey 2? This is what happens.
Aradia: Feed me.
Ali: Feed me.
Bree: Yes. So basically, Lilen’s gone. Everybody else is gone. The house is pretty quiet. They’re trying to, like, send all of the Mages off into safer places to hide them inside the Waste. So there’s not very many people there, like Elomar, Cailet, Collan, Sarra, Taig. She thinks she should send Taig away, but can’t quite bring herself to, even though they’re still having sad, they’re having issues.
Aradia: Ugh. The whole Cailet Taig thing throughout this whole section was just heartbreaking.
Bree: It’s brutal.
Ali: I just go, She’s still your kid sister. Kinda. She’s just also super magical. Both things can be true.
Aradia: No nuance for this guy.
Bree: So what we – where we catch up with the Ladders, is that they have gone throug, Collan has, like, given them all the different versions of the Ladder song he knows, and then he lets them all debate it, looking smug and brilliant in the corner, waiting for someone to ask him his opinion.
Ali: He’s smug because he’s like, See, I do have a purpose, Ali. Being all smug.
Aradia: Yeah, He’s being smug at you specifically.
Ali: It’s me specifically.
Bree: Specifically at Ali. And then he says, I think you’re idiots, all of you. “You shouldn’t be tracking down the oldest version of that silly song—you should find the newest.” And so, because they were thinking the oldest would be the most authoritative version. But he’s saying, Look at this. The song mentions things like shop signs, you know, those change and who owns this building changes. And, you know, so you should be looking for updated versions of the song that have changed to keep up with what’s going on around these Ladders, which is smart thinking.
Ali: All right, you have a purpose.
Aradia: I feel slightly called out because I didn’t think of that and all the evidence was there on the page. So I feel like he’s specifically criticizing me.
Bree: Well, you’re in good company. He’s calling us all out.
Ali: How dare you not solve it? I mean, I would have thought the old version would be better, too. Really it’s their fault because they’re like, Oh, it used to be called this, and now it’s called this, and you wouldn’t, Huh, well, maybe that might be more accurate – We don’t know the shop sign names. We’re operating with incomplete information. We were set up to fail, Aradia.
Aradia: Okay? Okay.
Ali: It’s not my fault. It’s you!
Bree: It’s just. Yeah. And then they start to think of other things, like some of these Ladders are made of wood. Would wood really – like wood that’s, you know, being attacked by the waves that have lasted a thousand years, since the Waste War – If these Ladders were all really built a thousand years ago, that doesn’t make sense.
Ali: Good point. Wood does disintegrate. That is true. I know this as a fact.
Bree: So basically they’re starting to realize maybe – and they do know, we know, because they used a Ladder that was built after the Waste War. The one that went from Malerrisi Castle to – the Traitor’s Ladder, basically, the one where the Mage Captal and the Malerrisi Third Lord or whatever used to hook up, their little booty call Ladder. So one of them made that, and they made it after the Waste War. So we do know, like it has been in the books, clearly they’ve you know, somebody made them.
Ali: Booty call Ladder.
Bree: If it was in the bequest – which is what they call the little box of the stuff that Cailet was supposed to get – She didn’t get the whole bequest, so she doesn’t know. Maybe Captals know how to make the Ladders, and now she doesn’t know.
Ali: Oh, my God. I just thought to myself about the booty call Ladder. This is such – This is not going to be as funny as I think it is. But, where you text like, You up?, but they’re literally up, because they’re in the Ladder? Anyway.
Bree: Booty call Ladder humor.
Aradia: You up, in the loft?
Ali: Oh, it’s so stupid. I’m sorry I interrupted everything to do that dumb joke.
Bree: No, it was amazing. Commit, Ali, commit.
Ali: I’m committing. That was the funniest joke that has ever been made on this.
Bree: Absolutely. I mean, I’m not sure it’s lentil funny, but you know. The lentil is still winning.
Ali: I fucking forgot about the lentil thing.
Aradia: That’s funny as shit.
Bree: Yeah. So I did enjoy the whole lentil thing, but yes.
Aradia: So, they talk about Ladder mechanics and stuff, like the specifics of all of that. And then Collan and Sarra flirt so hard that they get called out on it. And instead of brushing it off, they both look shocked, because they actually are flirting underneath all this sniping. And I’m just like, You kids.
Ali: Shameless, shameless kids.
Aradia: You kids. Kiss already!
Bree: Yeah, Taig’s the one who calls them out. He says, “A man never argues with a lady unless he’s married to her—or wants to be.”
Ali: I mean.
Bree: They have been
Ali: I don’t know about that.
Bree: They had been flirting pretty hard. The flirting is escalating. Though they’re still sniping at each other by doing it. They’re having wars of wits. Which I’m sure is entertaining for everybody else, because Pier doesn’t want to change the subject back. He’d rather watch them continue to go at each other.
Ali: Well, yeah, it’s a roast battle. This is hilarious.
Aradia: It’s so funny!
Ali: And they don’t even realize they’re in love. Everyone loves that kind of shit. I mean, that’s Taming of the Shrew, right? Or, not Taming of the Shrew. Oh, my God. Much Ado about Nothing?
Bree: Much Ado about Nothing, yeah.
Ali: Yeah, That’s the one.
Aradia: Yes, that’s Much Ado about Nothing
Ali: Yeah, that’s Benedick and – Oh, my God. What’s her fucking name?
Bree: Is it Beatrice?
Ali: Beatrice! Benedick and Beatrice. We love that kind of shit where they’re, like, giving each other a hard time. We love a match of wits, we love it.
Ali: That goes back, like Romeo and Juliet. She completes his rhyming couplet. You know, she can keep up. We love a good verbal spar.
0:19:55 Music break
Bree: Yes. So they keep talking about – they’re trying to guess, you know, where the Ladders would be and everything. And then they get hungry. This is funny. We get a weird line here, which I feel is like one of those things where she reached and maybe she missed, which is the “Which of you otherwise useless men will cook tonight while we women discourse learnedly on more important things?” That sounds so sarcastic that it doesn’t sound like it belongs in a world where women might actually believe that. I don’t know.
Aradia: Agreed. It felt off. Didn’t land for me. But I saw where she was aiming, you know?
Ali: Yeah. I mean, I feel like it’s not usually that overt. It’s just like, you look around Thanksgiving and you realize the women have cooked and done the dishes and the guys all watch sports. You know what I mean? Where you’re like –
Bree: It could be the, you know, the good guy who’s, like, making the joke but not making the joke. But she’s like, she means it, seriously. So she’s not like poking fun at it.
Ali: It’s giving that guy who’s like, Make me a sandwich!, to women. And you’re like, You’re joking. But also the tone of that joke doesn’t feel like a joke. Do you know what I mean?
Bree: Yeah, it’s not a joke because she makes them go make dkinner. But like, it does feel like that sort of thing.
Ali: Yeah, exactly.
Aradia: Right. And they’ve been demonstrably non useless this whole time. Like they’ve been useful for days.
Aradia: Yeah. It just. Yeah. It’s a joke that’s not a joke energy. Yeah.
Ali: How many times have women been useful for days and not gotten acknowledged for that? I will say that part’s real.
Bree: That is true.
Ali: They’re like, Oh, you worked all day? Well, you also have to do the housework. Thanks. Have a good day.
Bree: I’m trying to, like, explain it, because it’s weird because, like, parts of it, like, it makes total sense. But it’s like one of those things where you would have to be the sort of person who understands all of the dynamics at play in order to say this out loud, because most of the people who expect men to do dinner would just be like, Is that a hint you’re hungry? And she would just be like, Yes, who’s making dinner? Or like, where’s dinner? Or just, you know, expecting dinner. Like my grandfather, God bless him, would just go every day and sit down at the table at 11:00 in the afternoon being like, you know, he wasn’t like, Well, somebody make me lunch. He’d just go sit at the table and lunch would appear eventually.
Ali: Is the expectation. It’s the expectation that, like, women will take care of Thanksgiving while I watch my sports. Like, it’s kind of jarring. Once you realize that, like at every gathering the women are in the kitchen or like, you know, there’s just like a very set delineation of roles. And sometimes I’m like, get up and help!
Bree: And how I will say in my family, it’s only the boys. My brother and my husband are the ones who cook everything. They do not allow us to touch a god damn thing. They are foodie chef types.
Bree: So I do enjoy that in my family.
Ali: That’s beautiful. I just feel like that shouldn’t necessarily be exceptional. Do you know what I mean? I don’t know.
Bree: Yeah, it shouldn’t, but it is odd.
Ali: Well, I just think it’s the biggest scam in the world that women are expected to be the cooks at home. But like, the cooking industry is dominated by men. I’m like, We can’t have fucking anything.
Aradia: No, no, we can’t, absolutely not.
Ali: These gender roles. Which is it?
Bree: Doing it for no pay is for one people, and doing it for prestige is for someone else, you see.
Ali: Well, and I also am like, Oh, is there a reason why teachers are paid so much less than they should be? Because theoretically, I think they should be on par with doctors and lawyers and, you know, because they serve a very important function of society. But since women historically had those jobs, of course they’re lower pay.
Aradia: Yeah, that makes sense.
Ali: Than they’re considered just public servant jobs.
Ali: Of course.
Aradia: Sounds like it’s setting us up well for success.
Bree: Also a job Mr. Bree has.
Ali: Yeah. Yeah. To me, it’s just like, much of society’s ills are either racism or sexism. We just have to figure out which one it is.
Bree: Often both, yes.
Ali: Or both.
Aradia: Yeah. I mean, we even got classism here in the book, well, not classism so much but wealth disparity. Yeah. When they’re like, If you fuck up in this, you know- cause Sarra’s like, Iif you fuck up, you’re going to get eggs on your porch and soap on your windows. And then they’re like, No, in the Waste that stuff’s too expensive. You’re just going to get horseshit. Like, no one would waste eggs and soap on telling you that. And again, I’m like, Sarra, you think that you’re going to do great just waltzing in and being one world government for these people?
Ali: Yeah, it’s a check your privilege moment.
Aradia: Like, you think you can just take over and fix everything because you dream about bridge engineering. You don’t even realize that the Waste won’t waste soap and eggs on political action. Like, you don’t even know that. How are you supposed to rule the world?
Ali: Well, it’s kind of like when you talk to, like, a very wealthy person about, what it is to be alive. And you realize that they are so far removed from, like, actual human society.
Aradia: It’s exactly that. Yeah.
Ali: Yeah. You’re like, you don’t grocery shop. You don’t know how expensive shit is. Like, you only realize how expensive shit is because other people are talking about it, but you don’t check the prices like, you don’t balance the budget. I feel like the wealthy people that I know are actually worse with money, a lot of the time than people who are poor that I know.
Aradia: Poor people are brilliant with money.
Ali: They are brilliant with money, because they have to figure out how to make it work. It takes up like a huge portion of their brain space. Whereas wealthy people, it’s like a given that they’ll probably be able to afford it, so they never have to engage with how expensive something is, and they never have to be scrappy with money.
Aradia: Or resourceful with not spending money, or whatever.
Ali: Yeah. Yeah. Oh my God. The wealth disparity thing and the classism things always kind of grind my gears as well. But yeah, I just, I feel, yeah, I feel like here’s the thing. We’re going back to this comment, right? I feel like it has a certain self-awareness that I feel like is not usually present in these comments. And actually Sara’s disregard of like soap and eggs, it to me, is more realistic. It’s like, Oh, I didn’t even take the time to engage with this critically. I just assumed, I just made an assumption about what your role would be and what my role would be.
Bree: Yeah, though I will say that, like I can kind of understand, Sarra as like somebody who thinks she’s like, believes in and men having rights to being like sort of sarcastic about it while also expecting them to still fulfill it. So like, maybe that was what it was going for, but it didn’t quite hit. But like, the egg thing. Exactly. It’s like, you know, she’s like, Yeah, the kids are going to egg our house if we can’t give them trick or treat – because that’s what it feels like to me. It’s the, you know, turn off the lights because they’re going to expect trick or treat sort of things, or they’ll egg our house – And she’s just oblivious to the fact that, like, no kid in the Waste would get caught dead, you know, destroying food.
Ali: Throwing eggs in this economy? In this economy.
Aradia: Put them eggs back.
Bree: Which we all know because eggs were very expensive for a while there.
Ali: Oh, my God. In this economy, with the price of eggs, we’re not egging people’s houses this Halloween. Absolutely not. Unless you are in a certain financial demographic, or your parents are going to be pissed.
Aradia: And also, there was this line here that we got from Col, that was like just one of the most, like delightfully autistic humor kind of lines. He’s like, Horseshit! And Sarra was like, Oh, wow, you’re so like, eloquent, where did all your eloquence go. And he says, Oh, would you rather I have said “the inevitable result of intestinal collaboration between animals of the equine persuasion and certain varieties of nutritional fodder?” It’s just, I die. That is my favorite kind of humor. Just like the longest possible number of words, the longest number of syllables per word, the most complicated, convoluted roundabout, like it just – peak autistic humor. I love it so much.
Bree: Best way to say it.
Ali: Well, because it’s like, here, I will inconvenience myself for your weird societal norm that doesn’t make any sense. Like, we’re killing people, but we can’t say shit? Calm down
Aradia: I love his humor. It’s great. I like him and Sarra, as much as I’m like, Ugh, enemies to lovers, predictable. I’m also like, But they’re really cute, though.
Ali: Yeah. The Neurodivergent urge to challenge bullshit societal norms is so real.
Aradia: It is.
Bree: I feel like she needs exactly someone who will just, like, give her this shit, because she – You know, that’s why I like them. You know, I feel like she does have the thing where she will just assume that everybody throws eggs, and she needs somebody who knows that these people can’t afford eggs. To be like, Girl, girl, you want to save the world. You don’t know basic shit about who lives in it.
Ali: It’s almost as if people from a variety of backgrounds should be in leadership positions, because they might be able to bring something to the table that other people might not be aware of.
Bree: Almost like.
Ali: They might be able to, you know, shed some light on some things.
Bree: Almost like!
Ali: Almost as if representation matters.
Ali: Almost as if everyone has benefited by uplifting everybody. I don’t know.
Aradia: I don’t know, sounds sus.
Bree: Bold statement, Ali.
Ali: I don’t know. I guess I’m just radical that way.
Aradia: And like, you know, worst case, if we try that, worst case scenario, the world gets better. And I don’t know if I want to risk that.
Ali: Oh, but it might inconvenience ME.
Aradia: How am I going to have another yacht if I share my pie? Just not going to happen.
Ali: Oh my God, the second yacht. We’re going to lose our second yacht. This can’t – I paid $250 million a year, but I can’t give $800 million to 160,000 people. Absolutely not. Which comes out to $5,000 a year per person. Silliness!
Ali: Exorbitant, too much. We cannot pay workers. Help me. My company is dying. I don’t know where to budget.
Bree: For those from the future who are listening to this podcast and wondering where to place us in history. We are mad because they just walked away from the SAG negotiations.
Ali: Very mad.
Bree: So the studios just walked away. So, hello from the past. If you are listening later on. They are. They’re greedy. That’s what they are. They’re greedy.
Ali:. It’s one of those days where we’re living in a historical time and I would like to not do that for one day.
Bree: One day, no history.
Ali: One day not have a cultural moment. You know. So anyway, about Sarra and her, you know, need to check her privilege, and her aggressive flirting. Does Mr.Bree as a teacher – really quickly, does Mr.Bree as a teacher – can I ask what age he teaches?
Bree: He teaches middle school right at the moment.
Ali: So he is all about the awkward flirting attempts of youth. Does he ever come home and go like, I saw some shit today.
Bree: He has been doing this for a long time now. Not to out us, but almost 20 years. So he’s definitely in that old teacher, Oh my God, stage of it all, where he has seen everything.
Ali: Yeah, You’re just like, nothing surprises me.
Bree: No, no, nothing.
Ali: Yeah, but it is hilarious when you teach that age and they’re just so flirty and silly.
Bree: So he is definitely, he’s been through it at this point.
Aradia: So they have like a plan for what they’re doing next. And it involves running. Yeah.
Bree: Cailet has a plan. Tell us about Cailet’s plan.
Aradia: So, Cailet’s plan is like, way too complicated. So it’s obviously going to fail because it’s like eight steps long. But her plan is basically to do the quintessential guard and prisoner routine where you take your own people in pretending to be guards, and then you can bust out them and everyone else in the prison, and then it immediately goes sideways because it’s so complicated. But it starts with the fact that they have all these uniforms. And she is like, how can I use the uniforms? And so obviously the fake prisoner routine is where they’re going to go with that.
Ali: Sure. Sure.
Bree: Yes. They’re like, well, we’ll bring Alin and this very famous bard and renegade Sarra, and we’ll just be like, Look, we’ve got wonderful high value prisoners for you. And they’ll have to let us in and then we’ll break in and take all the Mages and Rising people out with us.
Ali: And Sarra is like, I get it, Cailet, I’m not useful to you other than doing this because Glenin anticipates everything I do. So we have to do something Glenin wouldn’t anticipate I would do, which, I would not do this, so I guess I’m on board.
Aradia: And then she’s like, I’m Mai Alvassy, so like, poor Elin Alvassy has to be like, Oh, yeah, so my sister’s dead. But here’s her doppelganger pretending to be her for this fucking escapade. But are we going to hold space for her emotions? No, she has no emotions. She’s just an NPC.
Ali: We don’t have to hold space for anyone’s feelings.
Bree: Collan says, “Not on your life, Captal!” And that makes her hurt, because he doesn’t call her Captal very often. So that stung. He was like, The fuck. And you know, because I love the Collan/Cailet relationship too, because I feel like she desperately needs someone who is not going to treat her like the high and mighty Captal. So when he says that it really hurts and she’s like, You don’t have to come with us. But you know, he of course, he can’t seem to let them go.
Ali: Yeah. And he’s like, I don’t know why, but I can’t let them do this by themselves. And I go, I know why you care, you silly sausage.
Bree: He doesn’t have feels!
Aradia: Yeah. And then, and then he says, he says something. So like, I’ve been really mad at Taig for shutting down around Cailet. And then he says the most heartbreaking thing, that he can see his brother looking out from behind her eyes. And I’m like, Okay, that’s a really fair reason to be uncomfortable. Actually, we should hold space for him having lost a brother. And now that person is behind the eyes of his little sister. That is actually a lot. I hadn’t thought about that.
Ali: That is a lot. Listen, trauma’s trauma. People do things because of trauma. We can hold space for the trauma. We can also go, But also, you’re hurting people with your reaction. Let’s also hold space for the people that this is hurting. I think life is so complicated, actually, when we really think about it.
Aradia: No thinking, only reading.
Ali: Yeah, it’s uncomfortably complicated as a situation. We’re nuancing our way through this book.
Bree: We are. So, yeah, it’s hard. His brother is in there somewhere. But also, Cailet is experiencing this as Sarra, just like mama cat swiping at anybody who says anything mean to her. Cailet has this, like, one person.
Aradia: Which is awesome. She needs that.
Ali: She needs that. Yes, she needs that. And also, as someone with a much younger sister, relatable as hell. Like any time somebody has ever been rude to my sister, it’s on, we’re throwing hands.
Aradia: Hmm, ever since my little brother got taller than me, I haven’t had that instinct.
Ali: Valid, valid. But I’m like, that little girl is a child. A child in her early twenties.
Bree: So eventually Taig apologizes and, you know, they have this really sad moment where they, like, they hold each other’s hands. And she thinks, “His hands are as cold as mine. We’ll find no warmth in each other’s touch… “
Aradia: (makes sobbing noises)
Bree: And someone who’s inside her head, like, gives her this memory of a girl that he had loved. And then, like, the same girl, you know, kind of rejecting him, saying, you’re so different now. So, like, she doesn’t know whose memory it was, but, like, you know, the people inside of her, like, trying to comfort her with this, Sometimes shit happens.
Ali: Sometimes shit happens. Well, that felt very – trying to figure out how to phrase this – I’ve been going through this emotional journey of like, Ali, you can’t control everything. You have to just, like, let life happen. You can’t stop bad things from happening just because you try really hard to make sure nothing bad happens. You know, like things happen. So you kind of have to just like divorce your ego from the results. And I felt like that was kind of what was happening. They were just kind of like, You are all powerful, yes. But also, you’re not going to perma fix everything. Like, things are still going to be bad. And even though it feels pessimistic to say that, it’s like, you kind of have to accept that to a certain extent, you know, without letting it weigh you down so much that you’re unable to function. You just kind of have to be like bobbing on the surface of life, you know what I mean?
Aradia: You can’t fly, but you can’t let yourself sink. You got to bob.
Ali: Well, yeah, I mean, it’s like Egwene Al’vere being shoved off that cliff into life, right? Like, you kind of have to – you can’t fight it, you kind of have to trust that the river will take you where you need to go. Yeah, I feel like that’s kind of what it was trying to do. Am I wrong here?
Aradia: No, no, I. I agree.
Bree: No, I think it was very much, you know, she’s this is something she thinks that – and what she finally thinks is that he has to he has to either see her as Cailet only, or as the Captal, or he can’t cope. And so he’s never going to see her as a grown up woman, like, you know, who loves him, and that sort of thing she has to let go of on the way down the river.
Ali: Yeah. We can’t control if or how other people care about us, unfortunately.
Bree: So she makes a joke. She’s trying to cover for it. She says they’re going to leave on the third. They’ll try on the uniforms and Collan can judge the fit. And he says, If I do, they’ll know we’re faking it.
Aradia: It’s so funny. They’re supposed to fit badly. And I am Collan, I like my clothes to fit well.
Bree: I am the fashion maven. I do love Collan’s ongoing clothing, fashion thing carrying through, which is like such a subtle expression of his trauma, that trauma from, you know, childhood.
Ali: We were talking the other day on the episodes of Wheel Takes – which we’re obviously not releasing until the strikes are over – But we were talking about core wounds in characters and how they can manifest. And like, this is such a good example of that. Yeah, he has this traumatic thing and he’s carrying a piece of that with him in this subtle, smart way. I just think it’s good writing.
Aradia: Yeah. And it goes well with what happens by the end of the section that we’re going to get to by the end of this episode. Because like, that core wounding sure does pop up. And then he, like, ruins his clothes and takes his clothes off, and everything goes really far to hell. So, being reminded of that core wound and how that manifests here is a nice little nod to what’s going to happen in three sections.
Ali: Well, I like it, because, like, trauma doesn’t always look self-destructive. Do you know what I mean? It doesn’t always look bad and it’s not always bad.
Aradia: This is a really new revelation for me. So I’m working on knowing what you mean.
Ali: Well, yeah. I mean, like, depressed people don’t always look sad. Like, sad people, right? Like, trauma doesn’t always look like devastation. It can look like someone is fine.
Bree: Yeah. This manifests in a way that is valued by society. Looking good, fitting in. You know, this is something that people would consider a gift. It’s still trauma.
Ali: And I think, yeah, it’s still trauma. And I think that that’s important to think about, and emphasize, It’s like not always – you know, cleanliness can be a result of trauma, like being hyper clean can be a result of trauma, like being hyper organized can be a result, like things that us as a society, values and places value in, can still be a symptom of trauma. It’s just, you know, much more secret because it’s easier to deal with, for us as a society. We’re like, well, they’re functioning in a way that I find socially acceptable. So I’m not worried about them. And it’s like, well, that’s not always a sign that people are doing well, or that that’s coming from a positive place. And even if it is something that is ultimately positive, it still comes from trauma. And it’s like, trauma doesn’t always have to result in a bad habit, right? Or like an outwardly expressed bad habit. Or it can have multiple habits. Some of them are good and some of them are bad, right? Sorry, I hope I didn’t bring down the mood by that.
Aradia: No, no. It’s very correct.
Bree: No, no, I think it’s perfect. I mean, it’s hard to bring down the mood of an episode that’s going to culminate in a trauma murder.
Ali: Yeah, Sometimes trauma looks like nice clothes and sometimes trauma looks like murder. And I think we experience the multitudes that is trauma presentation in this section.
Bree: Yes. So Cailet goes to bed thinking like, you know, she has this thought as if this life has – these people in this life had been waiting for her. And then, like, the thought comes, that it had for nearly 18 years, just like, Whoever said that, go away and let me sleep. So Cailet’s dealing with voices in her head.
Ali: How nice for her that the voices in her head respect her boundaries and let her go to sleep.
Aradia: Must be nice.
Bree: I mean, it would be nice.
0:43:35 Music break, Rising, chapter 2
Bree: Let’s go on to part two. Part two.
Ali: The pretty girl’s back.
Bree: Yes, pretty Lusira is back.
Aradia: The hot lady.
Bree: So, the hot lady has returned and she’s got the final two survivors – way back when they faced off against Glenin and the rest of them, like, plunged back through the sewer Ladder – Only two of them survived, apparently by jumping down into the sewer and living a very harrowing life. Not something I want to think, too – I feel like this is a, I don’t know, maybe this is a nod to how often Star Wars end up in trash compactors. Like, that’s all I got. This is a sewer.
Ali: You know, I’ve seen a lot of, like, escape through the sewer tropes. Les Mis, they do that at one point I think, and there’s a few different escape through the sewers, and I’m like, I feel like we never lean hard enough into how fucking gross it is.
Bree: Melanie Rawn said, I got you, girl. It is gross.
Aradia: Yeah, almost as gross as their their numbers on how the Mage genocide is going.
Ali: It’s not great.
Aradia: They’re like, Sewer humor, hahaha. Poop jokes. And then also, by the way, we’re looking at, like over 70% of us are dead now. Like, Aaah!
Bree: Yup, not fun.
Ali: That’s not good numbers. In fact, those are bad numbers.
Bree: Basically. It is not good. That is most of part two, we’re getting like, you know, we’re getting caught up. We get the stories of how different people escape. Lusira was warned by a real bouquet, not like a fake one, like some of them got, and she managed to go and hide and, you know, get here safely. But yeah, the sewer people did not have fun, and they have – on the way they found out basically that the Council reports over 600 Mage Guardians dead or imprisoned. And there are like a thousand total. Gorynel Desse said there was 1109, that was his last count. So it’s not good. That was a week ago, too. So they think that by now they probably have 800 or 900 dead or in prison.
Bree: So it is absolute murder, bad, bad stuff.
Ali: So we kind of do need that prison break. We kind of do need that prison break, even though that’s a absolutely out of control plan.
Aradia: Yeah, no prison break does seem like the only reasonable approach, even though it’s obviously too complicated to work. So this is one of the reasons why I’m terrible at DnD, is because I can’t ever, like, think about how like, I want to plan all the eventualities, like I want to know everything. And I’m like, Well, clearly that won’t work. And then, you know, that’s not how DnD works.
Ali: Is this the difference between autism and ADHD? Because I do the dumbest stuff during DnD, just because I’m like, I’m bored, I want to shake it up. Just do something stupid.
Aradia: I’m just paralyzed by like, I don’t want to fuck up! Ugh! Yeah, no, when I can manage to let my ADHD reign, I have a much better time. But it’s really hard to let that leash go.
Ali: Sure, the AuDHD of it all?
Ali: Yeah, I feel like. I feel like for me I’m like, Open the chest, see what happens.
Aradia: But what are the color of the drapes in the room? The drapes are important.
Bree: In the game where I met Mr. Bree, I got him killed.
Ali: And you got Mr. Bree killed?
Bree: Yes. In the game. In the game where I met him. I got him killed. His character killed, because I was doing chaotic shit. So that’s a good way to meet cute your spouses, everybody.
Ali: I always have to be a chaotic character. Oh, you know what, that is a meet cute.
Bree: Yeah, I think so.
Ali: That’s the cute, right there.
Bree: So, just murder, accidental murder.
Ali: You know? Yeah, I’m against murder as a whole, but I mean, there are nuances even here.
Bree: Well, fictional murder has nuance, I would say.
Bree: So we find that they’re going to try them in two bunches, the Mage Guardians and the Rising. And they’re going to, like, transfer them all to Ryka Court. So there’s time to go to Renig and try this jailbreak. And Collan is like, I need to not do this. I need to not do this. I need to not do this. And he’s like, Ah, what the hell? I’ve been in Renig Jail. So he’s like, Yeah, I’ll help.
Aradia: He is such a Han Solo.
Bree: He is.
Ali: I call that the Charming Rogue.
Aradia: Yeah, he’s just quintessential. I love him.
Ali: Charming rogue. We love a good, charming rogue.
Aradia: Like the Ah, what the hell, is like, I can hear it. I can imagine the camera angle. I know where the music is swelling, it is just such a quintessential moment. I love it.
Bree: Yeah. So part two, we can, like, you know, zip through pretty fast because there’s not a lot, I think, it’s a lot of catching up.
0:48:27 Rising, chapter 3
Bree: And we’re headed into the action. No, we’re not headed into the action. We’re headed into part three, which is the only time in this book so far that someone has acknowledged that this is a book about space catholics!
Aradia: Yes, this was so cool!
Bree: Aradia, take us away because I know you loved this part.
Aradia: I just, okay, so this like, absolutely like, six fries short of a Happy Meal academic comes wandering in and just starts ranting about all these words that don’t make sense, and how some words make sense. Other words don’t make sense. Why, why, Why? These words come from elsewhere? Where is elsewhere? I don’t know. And then Collan, like out of sheer desperation to get out of the conversation, is like, Well, where did we come from then if we aren’t from here? And this apparently blows this academic’s mind completely open, and they’re like, Ah, now I have a complete new post-doc thesis I need to investigate, and just goes back to mumbling about all the different things that show this incongruity. And it’s just so much worldbuilding through absence. It’s one of my favorite ways that worldbuilding can happen.
Ali: She’s like, How dare you give me something to think about? Because I’m going to take it as far as it will go.
Bree: I love it because this is so meta.
Ali: It felt very neurodivergent to me. I was like, Fuck you for giving me something to think about. I’m going to hyper fixate on this for like two years now. Thanks. And I was like, me when I encountered literally any of my hobbies.
Aradia: Right? Right. Yeah. And also it really makes me question the whole like, what is the Waste War, right? Because I’ve been hearing about the Waste War as like this magic thing, ladeda. I assumed it was sort of in the middle of the history of this world, that there was landfall, then the Waste War, then the present day, roughly evenly spaced. But the way this person’s talking, it’s like the Waste War is the final decommissioning of the spaceships gone wrong or something. The whole timeline of this world is cattywampus.
Bree: We don’t know what came before. We have no idea. So I’m going to go back and like, do this, because I love how meta this is. Because it feels like every person who’s trying to make a fantasy world, they’re like – And I can say this as someone who just is publishing a fantasy novel – How much am I going to use words that we know and how much am I going to give things new fantasy names? And it’s a like, you know, some people go all hard. Everything must have a new name. Which can be a little bit inaccessible to new readers. It’s like, how hardcore of your reader are you going for here? The ones who will learn new words for everything, or? And I love that she basically, she’s like, What does horse mean? And he’s like, horse. And she compares that to like the bird, the blue chitterling, which is a color of the bird and the sound it makes, or like, you know, the Stevvin four-horn, which is a place and the description of the horn, so there’s like – they have animals that have names that mean nothing, and then they have animals with descriptive names. So like, she’s like, well the animals that they came here and recognized, must have been given old names from someplace else. And the new ones they found, they gave names that sound like what they are, or they’re descriptive in something. So I thought that was really cool, because it is very meta. It’s, you know, Well, we’re going to give some things names and then we’re going to give, you know, other stuff, new names with the stuff that we have to create, maybe we’ll give it. And the thing that he says that really blows her mind is, “If they came from somewhere else, then the somewhere else still exists, probably, with people still there, probably.” And she’s like, Whoa, whoa, what? And he’s like, If they came once, it means they might come back. And she’s like, Whoa, whoa, WHAT? ”Col began to think of more words—like seizure and stroke.”
Aradia: Do you know what you’ve done, young man? Her reaction pleases me so much. She’s so fun.
Ali: Her reaction felt very Verin to me.
Aradia: Yes, Yes. Very like, snake from the drowned lands. What? I didn’t know there were snakes in the drowned lands! Yeah, yeah.
Ali: Yeah, yeah.
Bree: And then they do the thing where they say the name of the thing. Were the explorers, or were they exiles? So we know, because the series is called Exiles, that they were exiles.
Ali: It’s probably, it’s probably that, it is probably that one.
Bree: It is probably that one.
Ali: Gonna use my deductive reasoning.
Aradia: Yeah. That would track with the literal title of the book. Which then makes you wonder, why were they exiles, was it because they were too Catholic?
Bree: Too magic? Too both?
Ali: We’ve done, we’ve done those religious exoduses before.
Aradia: Yeah. The reason that we exist is because of those.
Ali: So yeah, exactly.
Bree: And it does like say, in the back of the book, in the back of the book, which it does not clarify anywhere else. I think that they were super Catholic who wanted to live without technology.
Ali: That didn’t work out so well.
Aradia: Yeah. That seems to have fallen on its face a bit.
Bree: But they brought Mages with them, and then that went kind of funny.
Ali: So how does Catholicism mix with Mages? Because like historically, they’re kind of anti magic.
Bree: It’s a weird combination. We’re going to get on this generation ship with, you know, the Catholics who might burn us all. I don’t know.
Ali: Yeah, exactly. They might set us on fire.
Aradia: Yeah, they have a history of literally doing that. Oh, look, they’re doing it again, huhu. Shocking.
Ali: Yeah. And it’s usually women. And we could get into that.
Bree: Maybe the Catholics were a weird subset of Catholics who like wizards.
Aradia: Those have existed historically. Those are a thing. Wizard Catholics. Catholic Wizards?
Ali: I definitely didn’t have the experience of growing up, going to Halloween and my sister having to change out of her witch costume. Definitely didn’t happen, so.
Bree: Actually, part three is basically just, first Collan thinking of all the reasons he should leave, like why is he still doing this? They’re not like forcing him to anymore. Collan is reluctant hero-ing so hard, he does not want to be a hero, but he’s not going to leave. So he’s just going to moan about it in his head a lot.
Aradia: Lovable rogue.
Bree: The fun world building discourse. So, part three is actually pretty short, but I do love it. He basically just ends that, thinking, Scholars! and then, Mages!, with equal exasperation. And thinks about how he should go to Ostinhold and see Tamsa and the baby, and give Lilen their father’s jewelry. And then he doesn’t. And he doesn’t know why. He just doesn’t.
Aradia: (creepy sing song voice) Because he likes Sarra!
Bree: Oh, he likes Sarra. And I think he likes Cailet, too. I think, honestly, like, he really feels for Cailet.
Aradia: Sure, yeah. He’s getting a family. He’s having his found family moment, where he doesn’t know what’s happening, but he’s finally moving from lone wolf to found family.
Bree: Yeah, Too protective of someone else. Which is fun.
Ali: It’s nice.
0:56:08 Music break, Rising, chapter 4
Bree: So we roll into part four, as they’re rolling into Renig. Any comments on this before we get to the murder? Lusira as the captain, how do we feel about Hot Lusira going full method actor here?
Aradia: I love that. And how like then the other woman that comes in is like caught in the throes of like, I really want to bang this lady, and it takes minutes before she’s like, Wait a second, this woman is totally usurping my authority! Get out of here with your tits and your eyes and your – I love her going full like, yeah, just committing to the bit so hard and being like, If I hold my symbols of authority and push my chest out, I should be able to blind everyone to what we’re doing.
Ali: I love the like, Actually, pretty privilege is real and –
Ali: – Really useful. And you can weaponize it. Exactly. It’s like, we can weaponize hot women. Yes. Let’s do it!
Aradia: Not just a pretty face, but yeah.
Ali: Blind them with their hotness.
Bree: So they get to Renig, and the Council Guards, like, have authority over everybody else because they’re straight from the, you know, central government, which makes people afraid to, like, fuck with them. So I feel like this is like – I don’t know if we have an equivalent here. Like, you know, it’s like the feds only, like, worse than the feds. It’s, you know.
Aradia: Yeah, it’s riot cops. It’s federal people instead of local people. It’s that energy. But like, where we would associate it with, like, an extreme situation, it’s just like the normal, everyday. Like we don’t normally have SWAT teams just strutting around, but like, that’s how these guys are.
Ali: That’s terrifying.
Bree: So they come in, there are nine Mages and eleven suspected members of The Rising, who are tossed out of the scariest little cells and like, put in another one together. And they toss Falundir to apparently – I love this the way they describe this: “Falundir went meekly into the indicated cell, a smile playing about his lips as if all this was a chaotic dress rehearsal for an opera written, performed, and produced by children.”
Aradia: He’s so old, he’s seen so much.
Bree: He’s just like, above all of this nonsense.
Ali: He’s bobbing on the surface. He’s like, This is fucking life. You know what I mean? We just have to go with it sometimes, we got to improvise.
Aradia: He’s like, full on laying back and just rolling with the waves. He’s fine. And he’s on board with this plan. Like, Cailet had to convince everyone else. But Falundir immediately saw what she was going for and was like, Yeah, no, girl, you got it. Like, he’s so chill.
Bree: It’s cool. Throw me in jail.
Ali: Well, I mean, it’s like, does anyone else have a better break into the prison plan?
Bree: Apparently not.
Ali: Does this feel like it’s out of some kind of farce? Yes.
Bree: Well, it’s going to get worse, so. Yeah. Pier shoves his sister into a cell. She’s glaring at him. Sarra looks at Collan like she will kill him if he does manhandle her into the cell. Basically, they all decide to go drinking. Oh, no, no. First they had to take the prisoners to one of the other like group cells. And this is where they do the little thing, where they give the prisoners a clue.
Aradia: Yes. Yeah. They indicate that, you know, Actually, we’re here to rescue you. Like, hold yourselves ready.
Ali: Mm hmm. A little wink, wink, nod, nod. Yeah, get ready.
Bree: And she sort of shows off her sword, which they recognize. It’s Gorynel Desse’s sword. So they’re like, Yeah, okay, help us here. And then Lusira takes them drinking, to a place with pretty boys and lots of booze. Where they proceed to be the most annoying drunks possible, or at least act like they’re the most annoying drunks possible.
Aradia: Like, obnoxiously, overtly, like, you’re trying too hard, levels of drunk.
Ali: But I feel like every fantasy, every fantasy ever I feel, like, has, like, one scene where there’s a group that’s behaving incredibly obnoxiously, and they’re like, Moar Wine!, and laughing way too loud. And they’re getting in the serving girls face. I feel like we’ve all seen that scene, and they’re just like, Okay, so that we’re going to fake that. We’re going to do exactly that, but for fakes.
Bree: Yes. Lusira has been taking lessons from Matt Cauthon. She is pinching boy bottoms. I’m like, okeydokey, we have successfully flipped this.
Aradia: Cat calling everyone in the establishment.
Ali: Don’t love it.
Bree: And random strangers. Toasting good looking sailors basically. And then it says: “Her looks guaranteed many offers of instant cooperation.”
Aradia: And then she, like, shoves them off by being disparaging. I’m like, You are the worst! This is an excellent disguise.
Bree: Yeah, she’s terrible. She specs them and makes a rude assessment of her probable satisfaction.
Aradia: It’s like, I don’t think you’ve got enough for me, boy, move along.
Bree: She is basically doing her best to, like, be the absolute worst person in the world. And she’s doing a great job, until a strange party comes around the corner.
Ali: Oh, yeah. And this screws up everything.
Bree: Huge slave men with, you know, guards. And they describe it as: “a tall skeleton wearing a garish crimson cloak and a brown coif from which inky hair sprouted at odd angles.” And who has arrived?
Aradia: Ugh! Our least favorite early book character.
Bree: Yep, he’s back.
Ali: The worst – one of the best named characters, though. Scraller is a good bad guy name.
Aradia: And they know him as the former owner of Taguare, who has been in the party now, and not triggering Collan’s headaches, but who definitely got rescued in the same thing that Col got rescued in. So they know who Scraller is. They know he sucks. They just don’t know that Col has a claim on him, but they know who he is broadly.
Ali: Yeah, they know he sucks and they talk about it for a while. They’re like, Oh, that guy sucks. He’s got a bunch of slaves and he sucks.
Bree: Yeah, they talk about how he goes to Bowers and hires young boys, and everyone’s like, Uuh, and they’re like, No, he just wants them to read bad poetry. And everyone’s like, Mm, ehh?
Ali: Still weird.
Aradia: Yeah. Which I figure is like a direct result of him never quite getting his nut off after Col was spirited away. He’s just stuck in a loop at this point. And now it’s a weird kink.
Bree: Here is a paragraph that is pretty amazing. “The point became moot as the next table overturned, spilling wine and shattering cups onto the pavement. A bellow of insane rage was followed by the hiss of drawn steel and the screams of those Collan Rosvenir trampled on his way to murdering Scraller Pelleris.”
Aradia: Excellent paragraph.
Ali: Do it! It is so good.
Bree: He just pulls that sword and tramples anyone on his way to stabbing the hell out of him.
Ali: Now listen, I’m against murder. I would not personally murder – But Scraller had it coming. Am I right?
Aradia: Scraller deserved it. And I love that Taig leaps right in with Col. Like, without even knowing. He just, like, follows him in and, like, kills some of the body guards. So that way Col can, like, have his vengeful, Stabby McStabatron moment.
Ali: That’s like friendship goals, right? You’re like, I don’t know why you want to kill this guy, but I know you probably have good reasons.
Aradia: Right? Which, again, not condoning murder of random, you know, employees, but I approve of Taig backing Collan, because Col would have gotten bodyguard killed, probably. I mean, it’s a lot of bodyguards to take on when you’re so single mindedly focused on killing the target.
Bree: Unless the bodyguards let him because they’re slaves?
Aradia: Which, you know.
Bree: You never know. That’s the question. That is always the question.
Ali: I’m sad about the bodyguards. That is a bummer about the bodyguards, because they don’t really have a choice in this thing, which, that’s rough. But I admire the Thelma and Louise of it all. He’s like, great. We’re going down together. Whatever’s going on, I’m on board. Like, you just want that friend in your life, where they’re like, I know you well enough at this point that if someone’s fucked with you, they’re bad. And I know that you have good reasons.
Bree: Yeah, he’s just, like, drinking, he’s like, Oh, we’re doing murders? Oh, we’re doing murders!
Ali: Oh, okay. We’re doing murders. All right.
Aradia: And then he finishes his part of the murders and he turns and looks, and Collan is just lost in blood lust repeatedly stabbing the corpse, and it’s like, Dude, dude, you okay?
Ali: It gets, like, slowly, like, slowly bringing his sword out. Like.
Aradia: Like. And then you drag him off to the side and you’re like, Buddy, you’re alright? And he’s like, Who was that guy? It’s like, Who the fuck did I just murder then, bro?
Ali: Yeah, that – I’d be like, Okay, we need to have a good friendship discush.
Bree: Yeah. Full trauma response. Yeah, Everybody’s dead. Cailet is frozen. Like all of the people in her head are like, Oh, here’s a thousand things you can do. And Cailet is a 17 year old girl going, What the fuck is happening? Which, relatable.
Ali: Yeah. I need you to pick one. Pick one thing I could do. For me, I’m 17. I feel this way as an adult sometimes, when you witness behavior in public, you’re like, There’s a thousand things in my head of what I could do, and I can’t pick one because this is so overwhelming.
Aradia: I’m just going to be frozen for 10 minutes until the situation resolves itself.
Ali: I’m a freezer, with the flight or fight? I’m a freezer.
Bree: Yeah. And then she tries to do a spell and Lusira is like, No, we’re not doing magic. So basically the woman who owns the place comes out with a whistle trying to summon the Council Guard. But here’s where we find out – I mean, summon the city guard, But like, nobody’s willing to really fuck with the Council Guard even if they just murdered a bunch of people in the street, because they’re the hands of fascism.
Aradia: Plus it was Scraller. And like, no one’s really sad about that? Like, it’s scary that the fascists could just kill anyone. But also they killed the right one. So maybe they’ll just continue not eating my face, even though they’re face eating leopards, they ate the right face this time!
Ali: They did eat the right face. It’s satisfying when they eat the right face.
Aradia: It is, and then I feel like a bad person. It’s great.
Ali: When they start eating each other’s face, you’re like, Oh.
Aradia: Yeah, yeah, you want a close up of that shit.
Ali: Yeah. You’re like, Ooh, I’m having the schadenfreude all over this place. It’s like, Oh. And then you go, Oh, the morality of the schadenfreude, though, the morality of the schadenfreude!
Aradia: Yeah, that’s a problem.
Bree: Let them fight. That’s all I’ll say.
Ali: Burn each other to the ground.
Bree: Yeah. Basically the woman screams: “They slaughtered six men without provocation! First they murder Mages, then Rising folk, and now—” “Scraller Pelleris,” someone said with deep appreciation. “And good riddance,” another added.” He’s not popular.
Aradia: But then she has the counterargument, What does it matter who he was? When will it stop? Who will they kill next? Like, those are all good questions when the fascists do like, you know, summary execution in the street.
Ali: These are good questions because this is the thing, we’re always like, Well, some people do maybe deserve what’s coming to them, but then where does it stop? Where do we draw the line? So we kind of have to go –
Bree: Who decides who has it coming?
Ali: Yeah. We have to make the decision to not continue the violence.
Aradia: Yeah. Who gets a monopoly on violence? Who gets to say what the correct response is? Who’s guarding the guards, who is guarding the guards?
Ali: I will say some people do deserve a swift punch in the face, though. They just do.
Ali: There are people where you’re like, You are like this because no one has ever punched you..
Aradia: There’s hot nuance, and there’s people who need punched in the face.
Ali: They need a little punch to the face. They can’t appreciate the hot nuance, so they need a punch in the face. And like, that is true.
Bree: Can’t disagree. So, “Cailet supposed she ought to feel heartened; after all, popular loathing was a powerful weapon against the Council and its Guard. But at present she was wearing the uniform popularly loathed.“ And I was like, Yeah, yeah. I mean.
Bree: Win that they’re mad at them, but a little awkward there. So, Lusira plays this so hilariously, you know, she’s like, Am I to understand we’re no longer welcome here? And then she’s like, this is “Scraller, eh? Don’t you Wasters ever say the Council Guard never did anything for you!” So she’s just workin it.
Aradia: Yeah she’s good at spin.
Ali: And everyone’s like, hear me out, hear me out.
Bree: And it’s all going fine because nobody’s going to fuck with them because they’re the Council Guard, until Collan takes his shirt off by mistake.
Aradia: Which, like any other time, probably would have been good, but bad.
Ali: He just is like Dennis Reynolds from Always Sunny in Philadelphia, he’s like, I’m just going to pop my shirt off real quick, I just feel like this is a good time for me to pop my shirt off. And I go, This is the worst time.
Bree: Yeah, he actually is like, really good at not taking it off because he’s like, so trained to not show his shoulder, but he’s stunned still and he’s dazed. And so he’s like fumbling with his shirt and it comes off and everybody sees Scraller’s mark on his shoulder. And this sort of breaks my heart because he’s still dazed. He’s still sort of out of it. And they have to – Cailet does the only thing she can do, which is like kind of turning on him. Oh, no, we’re going to cover our cover by pretending we didn’t know that this was an imposter. And it’s heartbreaking because he, like, literally is like feeling all of the shame and this, like, hurt. And I was not feeling okay.
Ali: It broke my heart. I was not prepared. I was not happy about it. And he was so confused and hurt by her, and she’s looking at him going, Understand what I’m doing, that I’m faking this whole thing. And it took him a minute.
Aradia: Yeah, he’s like, coming out of a fugue state, like three layers deep. And it’s Cailet holding a sword to him and, like, you know, denouncing him. Yeah, I was really glad he got it before the end of the interaction, because I was not ready to go into the week of waiting for our next recording with them unresolved. I was not ready for that, so I’m glad that he figured it out right before the scene ended.
Bree: Yeah, he finally gets there and like, you know, starts doing the fighting back acting thing. And Lusira is like: “Four dangerous prisoners, but only three cells. I think I’ll dump you in with the high-and-mighty Lady Sarra.” Because I guess Lusira is a shipper. So she –
Aradia: But she plays it off as using rape as punishment, which I was like, That’s breaking my suspension of disbelief for this matriarchal world just a little bit.
Ali: A-Yeah, well, because at first I was like, Is that what is being implied? And then it seemed like it was implying that it was actually a class thing, that it was like an insult for her to be held with him.
Aradia: A man in the same cell as a woman? I don’t know.
Ali: Yeah. There was a part of me that was like –
Bree: I mean, that’s the thing. Like, could he hurt her? Yeah. I mean, it’s hard for me to decide if she’s got this so ingrained that she couldn’t help but write it this way, or if I’ve got this so ingrained that I can’t help read it this way, even if there is another way to read it. Or if it’s both, you know, because she doesn’t spend a lot of time with these women worrying about men assaulting them. So it’s out of place, but –
Bree: But it’s so hard to write internalized like, I mean, you know, I feel like you might be right, this may be something that slipped in, or I’m just reading it that way.
Aradia: It didn’t even occur to me to think of a different interpretation. So.
Bree: Yeah. If it were in any other book, I don’t think we’d be questioning for a second that that’s exactly what that means, so.
Aradia: Yeah, it just fell out of line with the world she’s built? So, yeah.
Bree: So yeah, I get it. I mean I’m interested how other people read it, or if there is a way to read it differently. It’s hard to, I mean, because it’s just so ingrained in us. That feels like the only implication. So they’re, they’re already struggling with this. And this is where Inara Lunne shows up, the Chief Justice. Yeah. She’s a “terror of local Advocates”, which is their word for lawyers. And she has a code of sentencing, very simple. Ten years in prison, doing hard labor, slavery, or death. So those are three options, basically. So she shows up and she’s like – you know, like you said before – she has a small moment where she’s just sort of dazed by how hot Lusira is. Then she gets mad. She’s like, No, you cannot tell me what to do in my courtroom. I’m going to try this dude and kill him, tomorrow. And if you argue with me, I’m going to try all of them tomorrow and kill them, which isn’t ideal. Any thoughts about this section?
Aradia: I mean, her whole practical, I’m not being cruel, I’m just being efficient thing of like, either we can use you or we should kill you because you’re just a useless waste of space is like, fucked up. I appreciate seeing people who want to do murders for very cold, efficient reasons, rather than for, you know, hot blooded power or passion? But also, like, it’s the worst sort of evil in some ways. So I really was hoping Lusira was going to bowl her over.
Bree: And it’s the system! It’s the system, it’s like the law is the worst part of evil, which makes it commentary, I believe on, you know – Let’s, yeah, there’s nothing quite as evil as when your system of justice sees people only as their value to society, to a commercial. I’m not sure if this is quite Captalism. It is kind of the webs, I would say. Yeah. To your productive value to society. That’s scary.
Aradia: Yeah. And also I feel like Col would be a better candidate for hard labor than execution. But whatever.
Ali: Right, Exactly.
Bree: Murderers, man, you got to murder a murderer.
Ali: I don’t know. Then where does it stop with the murder?
Bree: So, yeah, Lusira tries to press her, like, tries to leverage her, you know, authority, which makes her even more mad. She’s like, Fine, you want a medal? Now, the Mages and the Rising people are going on trial tomorrow too. Get them advocates. I want it done quick and legal. Lusira says, the First Councillor herself will hear about this. And the woman’s like, Fine. She owes me a letter and a pay raise. So this bitch is not stopping for anything.
Aradia: Excellent comeback, honestly. It’s like a great way tp like, I’m going to call your boss!, to be like, Good. They need to be calling me. I’ve been trying to get in touch with them. Like, that’s a really good comeback.
Bree: We sort of end this section with Cailet having a full on discussion with Gorynel Desse in her head.
Aradia: Okay, honestly, can this man just die already?
Bree: No, I want to ask you guys, do you feel like this is an aspect of her that’s like talking in his voice? Or do you think his ghost is literally just wedged in her brain having this discussion?
Ali: Well, it sounds like a lot of the people who have died are like behind her eyes. That makes me feel like she has them in her? So it’s possible he is talking to her right now?
Aradia: Yeah, she does. She talks about, like needing to, like, sit to the side at night and like, just let the voices run loose and, like, talk to her and to each other. So, yeah, it feels like there’s shades, spirits, wraiths, in her head, but also, like, that seems like a really needlessly complicated added thing of magic. And like, maybe it’s just like the fingerprint taste echo in there knowledge, that like, suggests itself as a voice through her subconscious. Because like, he dead! You don’t just get to live in other people’s heads. You’re not even paying rent! I don’t know.
Bree: Well, and there’s the question, if they leave their memories behind, how are memories different from them? I guess there’s th, Do memories need a spark of a soul to be sentient, or can the memories themselves sort of like, you know -? I mean, I feel like it’s interesting.
Aradia: Well, I mean, yeah, like, is it a loop? Is it just a running loop of code, or is it an actually, like, interactive, sentient, creative thing? Because you could totally have some kind memories that can talk with you in real time, but they are very limited in scope. Versus someone who’s like seeing through your eyes, drawing new information, doing Google searches while you’re asleep, like all of that. Which I just find hard to believe that he’s doing that, as powerful as he is.
Bree: He says “Everyone dies eventually.” And she says “Everyone but you! You’re still alive, here in my head — Not in your heart? You wound me, Caisha. Stop it, damn you! It’s not funny!” And you know, then he just like he starts critiquing her proclivity for, like, picking a goal, running straight toward it and panicking if, you know, a difficulty pops up. So, like, he’s lecturing her.
Ali: Which I kind of needed to hear, I kind of needed to hear that, too.
Aradia: Yeah. Yeah.
Ali: You’re right. You’re right. Sometimes we have to pivot a little bit. We have to take a more circuitous route than we would like to.
Aradia: But I don’t know. I just feel like, like so often when I’ve done things, like play with tarot cards or whatever, like there’s, it’s really easy to feel like information is coming from outside of you, just because you’re looking at it in a new way and you have a very overactive imagination. So I feel like given that she’s just had like, you know, several college degrees shoved in her head with like magic sparkle dust, like some sense of there being another person talking to her, when really it’s just her processing like that, feels like more of a conservation of energy, than, he literally is cheating death in her cranium.
Ali: But at the same time, I don’t know, it sounds like – But the dead are behind her eyes!
Aradia: And then there’s that!
Ali: And then there’s that. The dead behind her eyes and the fact that there’s magic. And also just thinking about the world in general. When people die, where does that energy go? It’s just like, you know, don’t take it too existential, but like –
Aradia: Well, it’s a magic system. I mean, some amount of existential is correct.
Bree: And we’ve been told that there are wraiths in the series.
Aradia: Yeah, ghosts exist, apparently. Yeah.
Ali and Aradia: (In Scooby Doo voices) Ghooosts? Ghoooosts!
Bree: We end the chapter with her saying, “Either tell me what to do or go away!”. And there’s like, silence. She’s like, Gorisha! And then she thinks: “Cursing his Wraith that lived inside her mind—and cursing her own insanity for believing such a thing was possible—she cast a spell of Warming onto his cloak and tried to be subtle. A minute later she swore again. She’d let her anger invade the spell. The wool was so hot she was sweating. And let that be another lesson to you, chided his voice in her head.”
So. And then she tells him to leave her alone. And Lusira is like, Is something wrong?
Aradia: Out loud!
Bree: She starts talking to him out loud. And so that’s where we end with her, them all waiting, to try to figure out what the heck to do as their plans have all fallen apart.
Ali: Here’s the thing. I’ve been thinking about this. When you go through grief, sometimes you do occasionally feel like the presence of the person or creature that you lost is around still in some ways? And then you start to go like, Am I crazy? Is this a coping mechanism? Is this my brain, or is this real? And that’s like, valid. So I kind of like that it’s a mystery.
Ali: Whether this is her, whether this is him, whether it’s some combination of the two. Because sometimes, yeah, when you lose someone, you feel kind of occasionally like they’re still around in this weird other existential way – and I can’t talk about this too much on this podcast because of Gus listens to this and he hears things about existential stuff, he’ll have a panic attack – But I kind of like that it’s a mystery and it’s kind of like, I don’t know, is he still around? Is he still part of everything?
Aradia: Yeah, Especially because she’s still in the immediate aftermath of the trauma of being made Captal and losing a bunch of people. Like, it would make sense that things were really heightened and chaotic, and her mind’s a little on the insane side. Say, in like 20 years, once things have mellowed out, will she be having these snappy back and forths with Gorsha? Probably not, but in the moment it hasn’t mellowed yet, you know.
Ali: But is it insanity? But is it insanity? I don’t know.
Aradia: I’d say temporary. I mean, temporary insanity in the throes of stress and grief is real. And she hasn’t had much time to chill since losing a bunch of people in a really traumatizing situation.
Ali: That’s true.
Bree: And having an extremely traumatic manifestation of her magic, like her magic just blew up her brain, basically.
Aradia: So, like, I don’t know, there’s a lot of reasons to leave this undecided narratively, I guess. There’s a lot of good explanations.
Ali: A lot of variables. Yeah.
Bree: Okay. So let’s put a pin on the real or not real of – Sorry to make all the Hunger Games people cry, the real or not real of Gorsha’s death being –
Aradia: This is the Schrödinger’s box of Gorynel Desse?
Bree: Yes. We will keep Gorynel Desse in Schrödinger’s box.
Ali: In my mind I’m like, if he’s helpful, he can stay.
Ali: If the the voice is helpfu, they can stay.
Aradia: How useful is he?
Bree: I mean, is being kind of snarky.
Ali: This is where I am with having lost someone. Sometimes I will kind of feel like they’re still around and saying things. And I’m like, Well, is it helpful, or is it telling me to do weird stuff? Because if it’s helpful, it’s like.
Aradia: Yeah, no, I mean we are just bowls of soggy, tapioca, hallucinating calculus, like whatever gets you through the day?
Bree: Episode title.
Aradia: I stole that from a hilarious meme. It’s not mine.
Bree: Well, it’s funny.
Ali: Yeah, we’re just dirt walking around –
Aradia: Animated stardust. That’s what we are.
Ali: Yeah. Observing itself and going, What is life about? And it’s like, Oh, fuck if I know!
Bree: I’m a bowl of jello. That’s all I am. I am a bowl of wobbly jello.
Ali: Yeah, I feel like the older I get, the less I know.
Aradia: We’re just trying to exist for this weird flicker of a moment in the space time continuum. We’re just trying to do our best.
Ali: Which is why I’m like, Can we just chill for a second?
Bree: No, we’ve done murders and now we need to break out of jail, which hopefully is going to happen next episode, we better hope.
Ali: Well, okay, literally though, Cailet was like, Can we just chill after this? And the voices in her head said, No. And I literally just said, Can we chill though? And you’re like, No, we have to do that.
Aradia: This is not a chill time!
Ali: Am I Cailet?
Ali: No, I’m not. I’m not a googly Cailet. I want everyone to chill out for one sec.
Aradia: Yeah, you are clearly not of the Ambrai line. You have way too much chill for any of the Ambrai girls.
Ali: That’s true.
Bree: Yeah. The Ambrai line is not really chilled. Poor Cailet though.
Ali: It might be my recent COVID vaccine, though. I’m a little tired.
Bree: Well, it is almost time to wrap up Speaking of that. So do we have any final thoughts before we assign next week’s homework?
Ali: Umm, yay this particular murder?
Aradia: I was glad to see Scraller get his just desserts.
Ali: That was much more eloquent.
Bree: Yeah, not sad. I’m not happy that Collan had to do it in a trauma event that’s probably going to have such repercussions for him. But maybe there’s some catharsis to be had in all of this for him. Let’s hope.
Aradia: Especially given that we’re in the Rising now, we are rising up, we are fighting back, we’re done running. And so here we have our first – one of the very first traumas of the book has now been punched in the face. So maybe that bodes well for the subsequent traumas that we’ve been introduced to. We’re going to successively punch each of them in the face.
Ali: It’s our first stab at fighting back, you know.
Aradia: Stab. I see what you did there. Love it.
Bree: Okay. Next time we are reading the rising chapters 5 through 10, we are hopefully going to break out of jail and have some fun, not get sentenced to hard labor.
Ali: Hopefully not too many people die. I think that’s probably not going to happen, though. I think people might die.
Bree: And you know what? I haven’t even looked at where – I apparently picked out some pretty good cliffhangers for you guys when I went through this. But I haven’t gone back to look, so I’m not sure who dies, but somebody might. You never know.
Ali: I think somebody might.
Bree: It is a Melanie Rawn book.
Aradia: As long as there’s not another pregnant mother.
Bree: I don’t think it’s going to be another pregnant mother.
Ali: Oh, my God. First chapter. It’s going to be like, And there’s this pregnant lady that happens to be here.
Aradia: Oh no.
Ali: I want to see nary a pregnant woman.
Bree: People for the Ethical Treatment of Pregnant People Giving Safe Birth in Fantasy. That is my new organization I’m founding. Please, everybody, join.
Ali: Bree? You have the power. Write it.
Bree: I do. I do. I’m not killing anybody in childbirth. That has not happened in my books.
Aradia: I’m so excited to read your books.
Ali: Oh, it comes out November, right? November?
Aradia: Yeah, late November, though.
Bree: November 28th.
Ali: Read it!
Aradia: Forever from now.
Bree: November 28.
Ali: It’s sexy, it’s fantasy, it’s everything.
Bree: And I’m having a fun virtual event that everybody can come to if they want, on November 28th.
Bree: Hosted by the Ripped Bodice Bookstore, featuring Katie Robert, and Jennifer L Armentrout, and us, and Sarra Wendell, who is the fabulous founder of the Smart Bitches Trashy Books website, which is an amazing website. So everybody should come.
Ali: I will come the fuck to that. Where do you RSVP?
Bree: I’ll give you guys a link. We can put a link in there.
Ali: Please. I will be coming to that party. It’s virtual too? Oh, no question. I’m there.
Bree: It’s virtual. So everybody can come.
Ali: Very excited. Will people see me or can I look like trash?
Bree: You can look however you want. Nobody will see you. They will see us. Me?
Ali: Great news.
Bree: I’ll put on my good hair.
Ali: It’s going to be great. Everyone read it.
Aradia: Well, that’s very exciting. I’ll put that in the episode description. Everyone make sure to mark your calendars and come attend that.
Ali: 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.