The Gal With The Gut: Episode Notes

Ruins of Ambrai by Melanie Rawn

Welcome to episode 16 of the Hot Nuance Book Club, where it’s time for the Rising in The Ruins of Ambrai.

Join us in some quintessential 2am college freshmen dorm political discussions about the world’s problems! We get the full gender flip we’ve been asking for.

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Transcripts by Anna
Art by Bree
Produced by Aradia | Fox And Raven Media


The Ruins of Ambrai, Rising parts 5-10: The Gal With The Gut

0:00:19 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 the Paramount Plus show Rugrats, the reboot. And I also am the co-host of the podcast Wheel Takes, a podcast that is about the first time reader experience, reading The Wheel of Time and also right now, The Hunger Games.

Aradia: I am Aradia. I am one half of the Wheel of Time Spoilers Podcast – currently rewatching season two of the show Wheel of Time on Prime. We’ll be returning to Knife of Dreams in January – as well as being the podcast producer for Fox and Raven Media.

Bree: And I am Bree, also known as one half of the bestselling sci fi fantasy romance author Kit Rocha, and I’m trying to remember how not to work. So that’s a new project I’ve got this week.

Ali: Oof, that’s real.

Bree: And once these copy edits are off, my agent was like, Okay, and then you’re not writing until January. And I’m like, I’m what?

Aradia: Ooooh, challenge.

Bree: She’s like, Take a break.

Ali: Take a break.

Bree: So, challenge not accepted.

Aradia: Accept the challenge, Bree.

Bree: I don’t know!

Aradia: I will hold your beer. Take this challenge.

Bree: Okay. Okay. I’m going to try. We’ll see. We’ll see. I’ll give you guys running updates to this adventure I’m going to be on.

Ali: Take a break.

Aradia: We’ll be brooming you out of your office, back into the discord.

Bree: Yes. Yes. Broom – how do you, what’s the opposite of broom?

Aradia: It’s a reverse broom.

Bree: Dangling cheese? So I’ll be – I do like cheese.

Aradia: Cheese is a motivator.

Bree: It is.

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.

0:03:05 Bree’s Time Travel Adventures

Bree: But it is time to jump into the time machine. We are going back to 1994. (swoosh sound effect) Okay. I have to do this one first. I did mention at some previous point that the FDA approved its first genetically modified food. What I did not realize at the time is that this was called the Flavr Savr tomato, spelled f l a v r, s a v r.

Aradia: Flavr Savr!

Bree: The flavor saver tomato, which I feel like is the most miraculous thing I have learned this week. And it’s literally just modified to reduce the enzyme that softens tomatoes, so that they will have a longer shelf life in stores. But Flavr Savr, that is the most nineties.

Aradia: It’s so nineties!

Ali: They wanted to spell stuff all kinds of ways in the nineties, if it had a Z at the end instead of an S, it was cool.

Aradia: So cool.

Bree: Just like, chopping that E out of there, just for some reason it feels so nineties to me.

Aradia: Edgy, bro. Yeah.

Ali: I remember one of the most cracked things was when they were like, okay, we’re going to do ketchup, but it’ll be not red. It’ll be like, green, or purple.

Aradia: Any color but red. God, I remember that. Flashback!

Bree: So, also in 1994, Tom Hanks won a second consecutive Best Actor Oscar.

Ali: Damn.

Bree: And now I’ve realized I’m not sure if I want to, like, say the part that comes next, because SAG Aftra strike. Let’s not talk about movies.

Ali: Bloo bloop bloom. It didn’t happen!

Aradia: Tom Hanks who?

Bree: Do the harp sound from Wheel Takes, please.

Ali: Bloom, bloom, Bloop.

Aradia: No, just the Ali acapella version. That’s all we need.

Ali: Yeah.

Bree: Also, one more thing that happened in 1994: The White House launched its website.

Ali: Oh, my God.

Aradia: Wow. They got with the nineties.

Ali: I would pay money to see what that website looks like.

Bree: You could have one of those like under construction gifs.

Ali: I bet it was ridiculously funny.

Aradia: Oh my God.

Bree: I’m sure it is archived somewhere. I’m sure we can go back and like, see what the White House’s first website looked like.

Aradia: I’m sure the Wayback Machine has it. Yeah.

Ali: I want to see what their graphics were. I want to see their logo.

Aradia: Bold of you to assume they had graphics.

Ali: Yeah, exactly. I mean, they don’t know how the internet works now.

Aradia: Still, yeah. Their website is not the most functional website I’ve ever interacted with.

Ali: It’s a series of tubes. The internet is a series of tubes.

0:05:10 Aradia was right

Bree: It is forever a series of tubes. And also in 1994, Melanie Rawn said it’s time to learn about jurisprudence. So welcome to the Ruins of Ambrai. Let’s go. Well, you guys, we had jailbreaks, legal antics, escapes, the return of the wind, and kissing and kissing.

Aradia: There was kissing.

Ali: There was kissing. Aradia’s sitting there like, I told you, it was a bad plan. I heard your voice the entire time. Everything is going wrong. Going, See? What did I say? Terrible plan.

Aradia: That’s exactly how I was reading it.

Ali: Literally, I think neurodivergent people are just like – the autistic folks need the ADHD folks, the ADHD folks need the autistic folks. Who say, This plan sounds all right, and you’re like, Bad play, terrible plan, worst plan.

Bree: Let’s dress up and put all the most valuable people in jail and then break them back out? Yes, there was some – it made sense at the time. It sounded good, except for to Aradia who was like, What the fuck?

Ali: It sounded good because I thought they would do more than – Well, I guess they broke a bunch of the Mages out of jail and that was good and important. But why not just break into the jail in the first place?

Aradia: Yeah. Yeah. I rate very low on the impulsivity scale, so, yeah, I just – but really all that I remember from my reading, because I did this last week, is that there’s kissing, like everything else is just sort of gone. I’m just like, they finally kissed, Goddammit.

Ali: The kissing occurred, and Sarra was not impressed with it.

Aradia: Oh, my God, it is so funny. So yeah, we’ll get there when we get there. But yes, jailbreaks, I forgot that the whole jailbreak falling apart and me feeling vindicated was like – the whole first part of this was me just being like, I told you so. Turns page. Yeah, I told you so.

Ali: I heard you. I heard you go, I said this was a terrible plan.

Bree: (sing songs) Told you so, I told you so.

Aradia: It was brilliant, though. I enjoyed the chaos as it all went down, though. And the return of the wind was very, very interesting. Like, that’s very, okay, the plot is gonna – we’ve hit our apogee and we’re starting to turn towards the descent, because the wind was like the first event of the book.

Ali: There you go. We’re reaching a midpoint of some kind, where we’re like – All right, well, I want to know what the fuck’s up with the wind? Oh, Bree’s like, we have to talk about the other stuff first.

Bree: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Well, let’s start with part five, and we will work our way up to the wind and kissing.

Aradia: Okay.

0:07:40 Music break, Rising, chapter 5: 2am dorm conversations

Bree: Part five is actually kind of fun. This is where Collan gets thrown into the cell with Sarra, and they decide to spend the night doing political debates that you would have in a freshman dorm, you know, like at 2 a.m.

Ali: This is so real.

Aradia: Which I was also feeling vindicated through, because he was saying all the things I’ve been yelling at Sarra about her cluelessness.

Ali: That’s true.

Aradia: I was very enjoying Col telling her what I wished I could tell her.

Ali: Isn’t it so nice when a character does that for you? And you’re like, Thank you. I have been shouting that for chapters now, someone needed to say it. Please.

Aradia: Yes. Very smug goat emoji.

Bree: We ought to put this smug goat emoji on our discord.

Ali: I love it because that is the face I make when I’m right about something.

Bree: It is adorable.

Ali: Oooh, am I right again?

Bree: So yeah, Col gets thrown in. He’s trying to – he remembers he got out through the sewer drain last time, but they have like, apparently learned from this and cemented sewer drains in place.

Ali: Imagine learning from your mistakes.

Aradia: I know. And this is again, why it’s like, you know, why it’s a bad plan is because you’re relying on the same vulnerabilities in their armor as before. Because, like, what makes you think that they aren’t smart? Why are you underestimating your enemy?

Ali: Yeah, I feel like we shouldn’t underestimate or overestimate our enemy. We should be, like, very aware of exactly how smart and dumb they are. As much as possible.

Aradia: Ideally, yes.

Ali: Ideally, I know that that’s not usually the case. We don’t get to assess the smartness and dumbness of an enemy, but I think we are vastly underestimating their intelligence here.

Bree: Yeah. So he tries to get the drain up, doesn’t work. Sarra is talking at him this whole time, and so he finally wants her to shut up. So he’s basically like, Why don’t you tell me something? Why do you want to hold this revolution anyway? And you know, she comments, he is making it sound like a ball. And, you know, he says both need advanced planning. How are you going to do it? And she doesn’t actually know how she’s going to do it. He’s like, Are you marching on the council and assembly? And she’s like, Well, no, that’s stupid. Capturing towns and setting up a stronghold? And she’s like, No. And her idea is, we have to tell people that the bad people are bad.

Aradia: You just have to raise awareness and then people will come to their senses. You just have to convince them nicely of the facts and then they’ll stop being, you know, oppressive assholes. It’s just a matter of information.

Bree: Well, no, no. Worse, the people will stop being okay, being oppressed, as if it’s like, like nobody told them.

Aradia: Oh, right. Yeah. Yes. Class consciousness will arise.

Bree: Like we have to let them know who the bad guys are. Like people who are trying to feed their kids don’t know who the bad guys are. They’re just trying to feed their kids.

Ali: Yeah. They don’t care as long as they can feed their kids And like, you know, he’s not necessarily wrong, but he’s acting like – my favorite thing is like, to put it in the nineties, it’s like Sarra is being like, You’re invited to Mary Kate and Ashley’s rebellion.

Bree: Yes.

Ali: But yeah, I think he’s not wrong. I think this is a case of, he’s underestimating the people and she’s overestimating the people, you know what I mean?

Bree: Yeah.

Aradia: Yeah. Too much optimism and cynicism, represented in the two of them.

Bree: Yeah.

Ali: I think that he is right in that it’s kind of, you know, when we do big rebellions like this, it oftentimes will present just a power vacuum that someone who may or may not be better will try and fill as quickly as they can. So, there is no guarantee that Sarra’s rebellion will be better for the common people. And I think he’s right about that. But also I go, well, the Malerrisi also suck a big one, so we probably shouldn’t let them be in charge. But yeah, there’s no way to really prove that the outcome of this will be any better for the common people. And in fact, it’s thrusting them into a war which might make their lives worse for nothing.

Aradia: Right? Like you have to have a plan before you initiate that kind of upheaval. Otherwise you’re just throwing a short term anarchy bomb at the situation. And like, she’s coming in like she has a plan. But if you actually ask her, she doesn’t. And that’s like, that’s a little weak sauce for the people you’re asking to go into battle for you.

Ali: You’re telling me you have to have a plan for a rebellion?

Aradia: Everyone will just rise up and organize naturally without any conflict at all.

Bree: Yeah, he’s basically saying, you know, he keeps telling her that, like, she’s got these lofty political ideas and they’re fine. But, you know, people don’t care how the government runs until their needs are met. And like, that’s something that feels so real right now, as we all try to capitalism through multiple disasters.

Aradia: Yeah.

Bree: Just like, like there have been times where I have just felt – like you start to disassociate a little bit because it’s like, you know, remember the early pandemic and they were all like, yes, we’re going to come together and we’re going to make sure people are fine. And now it’s just like they’re literally asking us to forget that there’s still a pandemic going on, and that people are still getting sick. And they’re just like, No, work. Come back to the office. Why did you ever think that we were going to let you stay home, even though you worked better from there?

Ali: Not to mention that like there was still that very capitalistic vibe at the beginning of the pandemic, too. I don’t know if this is true for you Bree, but so many creators were like, If you’re not creating during this time of intense trauma, what are you even doing? You’re not taking advantage of the time. And that bugged me so much.

Bree: Every professional author I know was just – like we all have a pandemic book, which was late, and a wreck, and it’s full of our trauma. Like, you know, I actually feel like someone should go back and get the author’s notes from like, you know, 2020 to 2025 or so. Because mine, you can chart the pandemic in the back of my Tor books, because my acknowledgments are just sort of like drunk and confused and sad and weird.

Ali: Yeah. I mean, during the time of the strike, all these people were like, I’m going to get so much writing done, if you’re not getting a bunch of writing done during the strike, what are you even doing? Ladedadadada.

Bree: We’re striking. It’s an active activity!

Ali: We’re striking. We’re striking. And yeah, exactly. It’s exhausting and it’s emotionally draining. And it was really nice because a bunch of writers came out on Twitter not that long ago and said, I didn’t get anything done. And according to my agent, none of you did either. So stop with this shit. Yeah, They were like, My agent said one client turned in something.

Bree: Yeah.

Ali: Yeah, it’s. Yeah.

Bree: Now, there was a year where – I think of all the people I know, like one person turned her book in on time in 2020. It was just – It’s hard to do stuff when the world is falling apart. But you have to do what you have to do for survival, basically, and to feed your kids. So that’s kind of what he’s talking about. He’s talking about how, you know, they’ll grumble and they’ll be upset and they’ll say, Sure, that’s a great idea. But unless you can materially ease the burdens on their survival, you know, then –

Ali: And quickly.

Bree: Yeah, immediately. If you can’t give them immediate relief, they don’t have time or the luxury of caring about that in a lot of ways.

Ali: Well, yeah, I think historically – this is what I’ve been told. So, you know, don’t come at me. Don’t don’t ever take a podcast as a place to get your facts – But what I recall being true is that most rebellions typically get started by the middle class, not the lower classes.

Aradia: I’ve heard that, yeah.

Ali: Because they have more luxury, they have more free time, they have more of an ability to not think day by day, but think ahead and have some more planning time. So, they are the most frustrated that they don’t have the upward mobility that they want, because they can see it.

Aradia: Yeah.

Ali: And so they tend to be the ones to start the most discord, is the people who are kind of in the middle.

Bree: Well, I will tell you down here, watching civil rights stuff, the reason like it feels very strongly that the people who have been so successful, you know, when they, you know – Because I live in Birmingham, in Alabama, and there were boycotts and marches like the, you know, bus boycott, there was a lot of stuff. And one thing they are good at – and even to this day, like when we deal with the post Roe versus Wade stuff – taking care of your community first. Because if you – they know that people can’t, you know, do the hard stuff until they’ve done the necessary stuff. And so taking care of each other, making sure that people have access to basic needs, is so much a part, like an integral part of political action down here, that it, you know, it really taught me – and and let me be clear, this is being run by black women mostly. You know, I don’t think that white women get the same training, generally speaking.

Ali: No, we don’t deserve black women. We really don’t.

Aradia: Historically the evidence would be No.

Bree: The communit -I don’t think that we have been, you know, trained and acculturated to believe that we’re supposed to be building communities, because our quickest path to power is through the white patriarchy.

Aradia: I mean, literally community. We don’t know her. Like, what is community?

Bree: Yeah, basically.

Ali: Well, not to mention that we’ve kind of killed our communities and stuff to try and assimilate into the main white culture. So like, everything that made us seem different, like our languages and our customs, we killed those for our children.

Aradia: Yeah. No, we colonized ourselves first.

Ali: Yeah, we colonized ourselves real hard once we got here, because we were like, Well, we can blend in. Once we ditch the accent, the language and the interesting clothing.

Bree: Yeah, it is – not to go too far on a tangent here, but in case it is interesting to anyone – the first daylight march of the KKK in this country took place in Maine. And like we have this big association, like all the all of these people are like, it’s a southern problem. But like, you know, bigots and hate live everywhere. And in Maine, they were marching against the French Canadians, the Acadians, and the Catholics and the Irish, basically. And like they took over the state briefly. In the twenties, the KKK basically took over Maine, governorship and all sorts of shit. And you know, my great grandfather was Acadian. And the way they just deleted that culture from my grandmother, like, to this day does not want anyone talking about the fact that we’re French. I have a French first name, and she is horrified by this. My mother, like, betrayed her by doing this.

Aradia: I live in Oregon and we are, like, the KKK state. Well, obviously Oregon comes into existence post there being a North-South. But we were founded as the only state with a white exclusion clause by a bunch of people fleeing the aftermath of the Civil War. And we have, I think, still some of the highest KKK membership, there are active cells of them all over the place. It’s very much not just down there where you live, Bree. Very much not.

Bree: No, I got a humiliating lesson on why northerners need to watch their shit when I moved down here.

Aradia: Ah.

Bree: Because, you know, we definitely were raised to think that, like, we were – the north was the good ones and everything was fine. And no, that’s not the case. This whole country has a racism problem. And, you know, we’re all part of the problem unless we’re actively part of the solution.

Ali: It’s true. No, it’s true. It’s got an everything problem.

Bree: Now we have done a freshman dorm 2 a.m. conversation inspired by Sarra and Col.

Ali: And Sarra is sitting there going, But I’ve seen a lot of musicals about rebellion. You’re telling me that if I don’t give them a heartfelt ballad, that they won’t join me?

Aradia: Basically, yeah.

Ali: The most sincere ballad.

Bree: Speaking of sincerity, that’s what she finally does, I think, that moves him. Though, she says, “Because my life is mine, not theirs.” And he says, “Her cry from the heart wrung something inside him, squeezing blood from a rock of fear in his guts. It was why he’d killed Scraller, this fear; it was, in the end, why he hadn’t seized the first chance to escape these crazy people who would challenge Anniyas and the Malerrisi. His life belonged to him.”

Ali: I mean, I think it’s an important thing to reflect on, is that there are people who are the recipients of oppression, no matter how well they’re doing economically, right? You don’t necessarily know what’s going on with somebody or what oppression that they’re facing. Everybody’s got something. Does it kind of help a little bit if you can cry into some money? Probably. But, you know, I mean, Sarra has been through it and I think it’s unfair of Collan to assume that she – just because she’s wealthy doesn’t mean that she doesn’t understand somewhat what it feels like to have their freedom of choice taken away.

Bree: Yeah. I mean she does have that small, ‘My dad murdered everybody that I know and love and also is a monster who we have to go now fight’ trauma, which is a little bit, something.

Aradia: To say nothing of the world’s trauma with the whole Waste War thing. Right? That’s the other thing Collan brings up, is that you and your kind have ruined the world twice, when you have these power struggles. Why would any reasonable person invite that a third time? Like that’s a very, like – Yes. As a human, Sarra, it makes sense that you have these feelings, but like, given the risks to the rest of us, why? Why would we do this?

Ali: That’s a really good point.

Bree: The Mages dropped the nukes, so.

Aradia: Right. And you can’t put, you know, the nuke genie back in the bottle. I mean, apparently they have twice, but like, you know, it’s dangerous to assume you can do that a third time.

Bree: So yeah, they end this conversation with him saying, for what it’s worth, I’m with you. And she snarks to them, at least until you’re out of jail. And then he grabs her arm and she’s like, very affronted and, like, scared that any man would dare lay fingers on her. And that’s when he realizes he can see her because it is getting light in the cell and they have not been rescued. And this is a problem.

Aradia: Mm hmm.

Ali: This was a big problem. That was good. That was good writing, Melanie, because when he was like, Wait, I can see you, this is a problem, the sun is rising. And I was like, Oh, no! This is bad. I immediately was like, Oh no, now Aradia is sitting there, smug goating away.

Aradia: But I was so caught up in the conversation though, like, I was right there with Col, just like, Wait, it’s been how long? You know, it didn’t even occur to me that this conversation was going to take all night. I was just right there being surprised by the dawn, too. Turned the page, and then I started smug goating everywhere.

0:24:17 Music break, Rising, chapter 6: A kangaroo court of Olympic proportions

Bree: So, part six. Cailet can’t break into jail. And she is having some issues because she figured that her magic was going to work. But nobody popped up with a convenient, easy to use spell and they can’t pry the grate off. So she’s having a 17 year old girl moment.

Aradia: Yeah.

Bree: So she made a dumb plan and she failed. And all of the people in her head are not giving her solutions.

Ali: That would be frustrating. If I had a whole library of people in my head and not one of them had a good suggestion, I would be pissed.

Aradia: Yeah, big time.

Bree: So what do you guys think about? Basically, we are headed to the infamous Justice Inara Lunne, who is the infamous, Try them at Seventh, convict them by Eight, execute them at Ninth, lady.

Aradia: She sucks. She seems like just the worst kind of a person that abuses their power and position and sees everyone else’s objects beneath them. And I hated being in her courtroom, having to listen to them deal with her crap, because she just sucks.

Ali: Oh my God. Her being like in between having execution stuff and then being like, Can you go get me a pumpkin spice latte at the nearby Starbucks?

Aradia: Ugh!!!

Ali: Oh, I need my starbies while I am signing people’s death warrants. Yeah. You know.

Aradia: Just the worst.

Ali: She’s Gaslight Gatekeep Girlbossing her way straight through these court cases. Yeah. Judges who abuse their power, weirdly triggering to someone who lives in America. I don’t, I can’t imagine why.

Bree: Yeah, the minimum sentences are wild in this courtroom.

Aradia: Yeah.

Ali: It’s wild. Yeah. So it was the abuse of power, combined with the Starbucks moment that made me go, You are the worst person we’ve encountered.

Bree: Probably. Yeah. She is just like – A defense lawyer shows up to make it all legal, and the defense lawyer’s like, Can I talk to anybody, get their names, get a defense? And the judge is like, Nothing they say is worth hearing.

Ali: Okay, so first I was on that lady’s side. I was like, let the defense lawyers talk to her clients. And, you know, I mean, she was whining, and I was like, that’s a weirdly unsympathetic word to use, you know, when protesting, complaining, grumbling, those are on the table. But whining was the word that was used. So I was like, are we not supposed to like the defense attorney? And then we were supposed to like the defense attorney. And I said, Excellent media analysis, Ali, well done today, you picked up on the word whining and it bothered you. Because whining is not a likable trait.

Aradia: Yeah, I figured it was just the bureaucracy sucks and even the advocate is like, – I was, again, I am a simple person. I believe everything as it’s told to me. I’m like, Oh, she’s just overworked and stressed out and everything sucks, and she’s had to do this so many times. She’s whining over something so important because that’s just how the system is. And like, I was absolutely flabbergasted when it turned out she was the real baddie all along and needed to be killed. I was just like, What? I’m just, I’m so simple.

Ali: Well, I wanted to just side with the defense attorney. I did. I was like, You have accepted lesser pay –

Aradia: Right?

Bree: No, all the lawyers are bad in this world.

Ali: For a job that, you know, I’m sure is difficult because there’s so many cases and there’s so many ways in which, like the abuse of power has already screwed your client, which is why we’d never talk to the police. Anyway, I have a cousin who’s a defense attorney, and she’s always like, never talk to them. Never!

Bree: Never!

Ali: You say, I plead the Fifth. You say, I am invoking my right to silence. You say, I want my lawyer. Those are the three things you are allowed to say. Then you say, You cannot search this without a warrant. And she’s very clear about that. So I immediately wanted to side with her. I was suspicious about the whining. I don’t know. It was a word where I was like, If Melanie wanted us to like her, I feel like there’s so many other synonyms that wouldn’t evoke a certain, like, babyish tone.

Bree: Yes.

Aradia: Okay. So then my other question is, did you suspect that the coffee was going to be their Trojan horse to getting out?

Ali: No! No, I did not expect that.

Aradia: Okay, cool. I’m glad that at least I’m not alone in not spotting that. Because I thought that was brilliant, to take the abuse of power to send for a PSL, and turn it into, But what if I drugged you? Brilliant, Brilliant.

Ali: And listen, there’s nothing wrong with a good PSL. It’s just like, maybe there’s a time and a place to get a PSL. And maybe that time and place is not in the middle of a potential execution trial. You know what I mean?

Aradia: Right? And likewise, I’m generally against nonconsensual drugging of people. Like, as a drug enthusiast, I think that that’s one of the cardinal rules, you don’t even joke about that. This is not cool. But in this case, it’s fine.

Ali: I know. Isn’t it so funny, what – sometimes you’ll find – literature will make you go, Well, I mean, I’m against it normally, but in this case, like, she kind of had it coming?

Aradia: Yeah, I’ve already had that process with kidnapping. Now I’m having it with nonconsensual drugging.

Bree: Mm hmm. Yes. There we go. So, yeah, she sentences all of the Mage Guardians to death, in 15 minutes.

Ali: That doesn’t seem like a fair trial length.

Bree: And then she moves on to the members of the Rising, and then she orders her vanilla cinnamon, extra sugar, coffee.

Ali: This is a kangaroo court, Your Honor. A kangaroo court. Worse. It’s a wallaby court. That’s where we’re at.

Bree: I love this, because Elo volunteers to go get the vanilla cinnamon extra sugar from the coffee bar, which makes Lusira glare at him, because this is beneath the dignity of their assumed roles. But they sent the Healer Mage to go get the coffee, right?

Aradia: Yeah. Brilliant. Brilliant.

Bree: There you go. And so the coffee had not yet arrived yet before she tried Falundir, giving him the same sentence. Okay, no, first she did all the members of the Rising before the coffee, and it took them 7 minutes to get all sentenced to execution.

Ali: A kangaroo court, Your Honor.

Bree: Very much. So now they’re down to three people, Collan, Sarra and Elin. And they call Mai, and Sarra steps forward, and Elin decides to pull a sassy, jackass Blooded First Daughter tantrum and said, This is not my sister.

Aradia: It’s kind of amazing.

Ali: Yeah, it was amazing. I appreciated this. The two of them, Lusira and Elin, fighting over whether or not she is Mai or Sarra –

Aradia: Whether or not it matters? It’s brilliant.

Ali: If it matters. And they go to Sarra and they’re like, You have to state your name for the court. And she just dimples at them.

Aradia: Yes. The best use of a dimple ever.

Bree: Yes. And like Elin does, she plays up the blood haughtiness, because Justice Lunne is a former Fourth Tier. And Fourth Tier people hate the snobby Blood. And so she literally says, She is no more an Alvassy than you are.

Aradia: Ooooh.

Ali: Oh, Elin.

Bree: Elin’s swinging for the face here.

Aradia: Yes, Elin with the steel chair.

Ali: Elin with the steel chair. Brillant.

Bree: And then Elin smiles and says, “The Council might be made extremely unhappy if this woman turned out to be someone even more important than my sister.” And then she says it’s Sarra, and then everybody starts fighting, all of the Council Guards. And, you know, Elomar’s like, There were two of them and they looked alike! So everybody’s disagreeing, you know, basically causing absolute chaos here. And so they start calling up the different people who are posing as Council Guards to like, testify. And that is where the coffee comes back. Just as Cailet is going up, realizing she doesn’t remember her fake name, she’s like trying to figure out if she can do a spell or something – and the judge falls asleep.

Aradia: Brilliant. We love to see that.

Ali: Love it!

Bree: Excellent use of coffee. And poor little 17 year old Cailet missed the thing that the rest of them did, which is that once the like judge falls asleep, there’s basically like, one watch person and the defense lawyer in this courtroom, and then dozens of them.

Ali: Perfect. I like the odds.

Aradia: Yeah. And then they still fuck it up. So she starts putting everyone to sleep who needs to go to sleep. And then she has mercy for the poor timorous advocate who’s just so scared.

Ali: I’m like, Put her to sleep. What is the worst thing that could happen?

Aradia: Just put her to sleep. You’re not doing the fantasy concussion where you hit people on the head and assume it’ll be fine. You’re actually giving her a magic knock out, so it’s like, safe. It’s fine, just put her to sleep.

Ali: It’s fine. Yeah. I’m like, I get showing mercy for people. I do. And I am all for it. But this isn’t even not merciful. It’s just kind of stupid.

Aradia: Oh, she’s scared of magic. Like, I don’t give a shit if she’s scared of it, she’s going to be fine.

Ali: Fine. Just knock her out.

Bree: Cailet’s just hypersensitive, because she’s being looked at with fear, and I think that there’s probably a lot going on here with her feeling newly, you know, maybe newly a little monstrous. Especially since some of the people she loves are occasionally looking at her with these, like, different people behind her eyes. She’s definitely got some defensiveness here. So she’s trying to prove herself. She literally thinks, you know, Okay, well, if we’re going to be regarded without fear, I’d have to prove myself. So no time like the present! And that sure comes back to bite her in the ass.

Ali: To be clear, when I say that it’s stupid, it’s not a knock on the writing. It’s a very realistic character choice. But I am yelling at Cailet.

Aradia: Yes, yes, very much so.

Bree: Cailet let her emotions and not wanting to be feared – which, when you are going to be the most powerful Mage leader in the world. I’m sorry, baby. This is going to come with it.

Ali: Baby, we got to get used to that. Baby, who doesn’t want to be a woman who’s a little feared, just like a little bit, a healthy amount of fear. Who, when they read the Wheel of Time, doesn’t, like, hear about, you know, people being a little bit scared of Moiraine and go, Ooh, I would love to walk into a room and have everybody stop talking when I walk in. That would be great. But like, not in a way where they’re mortal, afraid, just like a little bit. This is the goal.

Bree: A little.

Aradia: I mean, you’re not wrong.

Ali: Just a little bit. Just intimidated. Intimidated, is where we’re going.

Bree: Yeah. Yeah. So poor Cailet. They start fighting about where they’re going, because the Mages are like, We don’t know who you are, and we are not listening to you. And Sarra says, they’re not going anywhere without the Captal’s permission. And they’re all like, What? Who now? Which Captal? That, that Captal, that 17 year old girl is the Captal, whaa?

Aradia: Yeah. Just bring you up to date real quick.

Ali: I mean, that’s a valid question. I too would have questions if the president was 17.

Aradia: Mhmm.

Bree: Unfortunately they can’t get the doors open, which is when they figure out that our poor little defenseless defense lawyer is Malerrisi. So here we go. What do you guys think of this fight?

Aradia: Okay, so I wish Gorynel Desse could just get dead already, but I freaking love that the sword, like, can drive itself basically. When she draws the sword, it understands her deepest intentions and just simply guides her body through the motions. I think that is a very cool way to bring a 17 year old up to, like, blade master status in a way that feels believable to the magic system, rather than just, And she was a natural. Moving on.

Bree: Yeah.

Ali: A prodigy, a savant.

Aradia: Yeah.

Ali: Better than people have been working on this for 30 years. For longer than she’s been alive. Yeah, I get that. I. I would be afraid to operate a sword like this, just given my intrusive thoughts. You know what I mean?

Aradia: Apparently she doesn’t have those.

Ali: I guess it is your deepest thoughts. Because usually it’s like, you have the intrusive thought and then you go, That’s ridiculous. And it’s the second thought that’s really You?

Aradia: Sure, yeah. Yeah.

Bree: No, it seems to be your real heart.

Ali: Okay, Good, good, good.

Aradia: I think it’s got a fail safe for intrusive thought people.

Bree: Yeah. So all the other maids like Ward themselves to basically protect the room from this battle. And Cailet looks at Sarra and thinks about Sarra saying, You’re my sister and I love you. And she thinks, I am also the Captal, Sarra. Love this part of me, if you can. And then she goes for it.

Ali: I thought it was really interesting during these couple of chapters, where we kind of get in Sarra’s head and we kind of get in Taig’s head, where they’re both kind of thinking the other one understands Cailet better.

Bree: Well, it is -I think that the question is, who does understand her better now? Taig has all of their shared history, but she’s definitely somebody new now. And I don’t think he can see that, or get to know the new her. Like, I feel like he’s struggling really hard. And like Sarra, Sarra is going to accept the new her no matter what. There’s nothing that is going to make Sarra reject this girl, no matter what Cailet thinks about. Because as we see, Cailet still doesn’t kill this Malerrisi, she thinks Sarra is going to be all horrified. And she, like, you know, hurts her really badly with the magic, destroying her magic and, you know, she doesn’t kill her because the sword knows that she doesn’t want her death. And Gorynel Desse warns her that she can’t lie to the sword, like it will know if she wants somebody dead.

Ali: And then Sarra goes, Don’t worry, baby, I want her dead.

Bree: Yeah. The woman jumps up and she’s about to throw a knife, do something to Cailet, and Sarra turns around and takes that knife she got from the bad ass old Warrior Mage lady, and just throws it right into her heart. Calm and chill.

Ali: What are the coolest weapons, skilled weapons? And why is it archery and knife throwing? Those are the two coolest. I think, most badass thing someone could be doing.

Aradia: Just so difficult. So frickin difficult. It’s easy to understand how hard it is to throw something accurately. Yeah.

Ali: It’s true. It’s true. Because somebody was talking about, on TikTok the other day, they said, What skill do you think you could take a year to learn, what Olympic event, take a year and you won’t come in last? Give me one. And she said, I think archery. And literally all of the comments were, Archery is actually the hardest thing to learn, it is actually the hardest thing to be really good at. Pick something else.

Aradia: Yeah. No, that that sounds about right. I have terrible aim.

Bree: Is there a Netflix bingeing? I could probably come in, you know, solid in the Netflix bingeing contest. But otherwise I’m going to be avoiding the Olympics. Thank you.

Ali: It has to be, it has to be a Olympic sport that already exists.

Bree: Yeah. No, thank you.

Ali: And not a team sport, because that doesn’t count.

Bree: Nope.

Ali: No riding the bench. I thought, none of them.

Bree: Yes, that is my solid answer.

Aradia: Yeah, I’m trying to think and it’s like, nah, I wouldn’t. There’s nothing that I would even begin to be able to try.

Ali: Maybe shotput like, maybe. Maybe. Just because I have been doing Pilates for a long time, so I’m pretty strong and I can throw stuff really far. My family jokes, though, like I always misjudge the distance and I’m like – they call me Cannon Arm Shields – but like, I always misjudge and go way over it. So maybe I could throw something really far. But even then.

Aradia: Yeah.

Bree: Okay, here you go.

Aradia: That’s your question.

Ali: What Olympic sport?

Bree: What is your unearned confidence for your Olympic sport?

Aradia: Or tell us Olympic sports you think we could do that we just didn’t know where Olympic sports.

Bree: No, no, there’s zero for me, but you can tell the other ones.

Aradia: There are some wild ones out there. Every year I learn about new ones I didn’t know existed.

Ali: That’s true. Curling? I learned about while studying for the S.A.T.. I just had the Olympics on. My whole family had left. I had to stay home and study, and I, in order to avoid studying, learned everything about curling possible, instead. The one with the brooms and the ice. And you, like, put that like put the desk over the ice and you scrub it.

Aradia: I watched a long ass video once about how the sourcing for the curling stones is super important. A whole long tangent about the geology of getting the correct kind of curling stone.

Bree: Intense,

Aradia: Is a very specific region the curling stones come from. It’s important.

Ali: I bet that’s because, if you screw it up at all, it won’t slide right.

Aradia: Or something. It’s just a rock. But no, you’re going to have a from a very specific place.

Ali: It’s a very specific rock and I bet the brooms are very specific too. I bet you can’t just use any broom. And I was trying to figure out, do they do it to increase the friction so it doesn’t slide so far or is it to clear detritus from the ice, so it slides further? I think it’s the first one.

Aradia: I forget, honestly.

Ali: Because they scream at them to go hard, and then they like scrub super hard.

Aradia: I don’t know. My curling deep dive was over a year ago. I forget everything now.

Ali: I like the Olympics. Anyway. So speaking of people going through a trial.

Bree: Very good segue way back in. So basically Sarra kills this Mage and she’s just like very chill. And Cailet is sort of shocked when she’s like, Sarra killed for me.

Aradia: She loves you. She’s your sister. She’ll do a murder for you. I mean, I would do a murder for my sibling too.

Ali: No question, I wouldn’t even – like they wouldn’t have to give me a reason.

Aradia: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. You go into battle. I go into battle with you. It’s a thing.

Ali: Especially the youngest. Whatever she wants. Like, I’m sure it’s reasonable.

Bree: Yeah, very big sister energy. So yes. So she’s sort of shocked by this, but then she hears Lusira’s voice from outside and ringing of steel on steel, summoning us into part seven.

0:44:44 Music break, Rising, chapter 7: The female gaze is really competent sword fighting

Bree: The Council Guard has, the real Council Guard has shown up and they walk up to this courthouse and I always liked this line: “It was to their captain’s credit that she instantly recognized the incongruity: so many people, some wearing ragged Mage regimentals, all wearing the pallor of long days in prison, and none wearing chains, should not be freely exiting any courtroom, especially Inara Lunne’s.” Yeah, people don’t get let free from this courtroom. So basically everybody, especially these Mages who just got free, start fighting like angry feral cats. The Mages don’t use magic, especially because they know their Captal’s here apparently. But everybody is just angry and wants to fight back. But they don’t have weapons. And then Cailet arrives, and everybody sort of stares as she basically takes out the Council Guard on her own, without a single killing blow. Like, so precisely takes them all down with this sword that she doesn’t kill any of them, because she doesn’t want to.

Ali: Again, baby, your goals. Your goals. Embrace it.

Aradia: She takes down five swordsmen a minute, for five straight minutes, and none of them are going to die from the blows she strikes. Like God tier.

Ali: Goals! This is what we all want. This is what women – This is the female gaze. This is what women want.

Bree: And she’s sort of like, not even entirely with it maybe, because Taig sort of like, walks towards her warily and tells her she can stop now, and she says they’re not dead. And he says, I know, you’re too good with a sword to have killed them. Which is just. And this is like the saddest thing, because this is the first time after I just said this in the last chapter, I forgot that this paragraph is here. This is the first time Sarra can’t walk to her because now she is seeing the ghost of Gorynel Desse, who she believes is the one who, like, gave her this skill. That Taig can see Cailet, but she’s seeing Gorynel Desse, and Alin and Tamos and Lusath, and, you know, all of these people. And that seems like, you know, it’s like you said, Ali, she’s having this moment where she feels like Taig can know her in a way that she never will, because she never got to meet her before she was everybody.

Aradia: Yeah.

Ali: That’s heartbreaking. Curse you, Gorynel Desse.

Aradia: The power of sisterhood has a lot to overcome.

Bree: Also, she’s sort of like half heartedly thinking that she has to, like, carve another notch in this knife at some point, which is good priorities, girl.

Ali: Aww.

Aradia: Yes. First notch for her, but not first notch for the knife. Very cool.

Bree: No. So they’re headed towards the pier because the idea is that they’re going to Ryka Court. And Sarra’s gut jumping instincts suddenly freak the fuck out.

Ali: Yeah, she’s like, We can’t go to Ryka. We can’t go there. And I go, Why are we questioning the lady who’s got the gut, the guy with the gut? Gut gal?

Bree: To his credit, Collan doesn’t question her too much.

Ali: Oh, no. But the other people.

Bree: Yeah, well, Cailet immediately does, but.

Ali: Yeah, and I go, Cailet, this is her special power. Though she doesn’t know that, right?

Bree: No, probably not.

Ali: Sarra, maybe we share.

Bree: This is the end here. You know, basically, the wind returns, guys, here we are. This part ends with the wind.

Ali: Okay, What the fuck’s with the wind?

Aradia: Yeah, They’re debating this decision, and then the wind is like, But what if I made the whole thing move, and just slams into everything? It’s very perplexing.

Bree: And this is like, no wind. “Canvas sails ripped from repair frames on the beach. Drooping pennants snapped to life and tore loose from poles. The boardwalk fencing groaned as it shook and splintered.” And then Sarra, like, literally gets blown into Cailet and the wood gives way and they fall onto the sand below. That is a conveniently timed wind.

Ali: But stressful.

0:49:33 Rising, chapter 8: Mucilaginous kisses

Bree: Yes. Well, the beginning of part eight, we remember, we find out that Collan, for all the things that he has gotten back his memory of, he still doesn’t remember the wind. He just has a vague idea that a strong wind had saved his life once.

Ali: Is it Gorynel Desse? What’s going on? Is Gorynel the wind?

Bree: I mean, that’s a good question.

Aradia: Gorynel Breaking Wind Desse.

Ali: Nine out of ten. I was trying to come up with some kind of quip. And you got it for me. Thank you.

Aradia: We’re a good team.

Bree: Very nice.

Ali: But is it Gorynel, who is the wind? Is it a Ward, are we Warding? Would there be a Ward at sea?

Aradia: Did the wind come for Collan or for Cailet? Who’s the wind even for?

Ali: Collet? Why not both?

Bree: Well, I guess the question is, what do you guys think the wind is meant to do this time? We’re given a few different things that it causes. It knocks them off the dock, it scatters everybody. And it also keeps this boat with the Ryka legion, who is like, even scarier than the Council Guard, from landing. So, like, this seemed like a really multipurpose wind.

Aradia: Yeah. It seems to be serving everybody in our party of heroes as they scatter and get away. It’s just giving them an extra bit to get away from a real sticky situation.

Ali: This wind is serving, literally.

Bree: To get off the docks, which would be a very bad place for all of these Mages to be as the Ryka Legion arrives to get them. Yeah, so Elomar and Col tell everybody to run and they jump off the dock onto the beach where Cailet and Sarra fell. Any thoughts about what else happened in here? This is the kisses, where the kisses start at least.

Ali: We got to talk about the kiss.

Aradia: Well, so what it is, is that Col is trying to get everyone away, and he’s working his way through everyone. And the final people he has to deal with are him and Sarra. And so he, like, makes them all, like, dirty and messy and like, puts this, like, stuff in her hair. And then he’s like, touching her face. Then he’s like, Oh, now I have to set up the idea that we’re being caught making out. But like, you could tell that he’s starting to like, he wants to kiss her, but it’s not relevant. And it’s just – it’s all so that way, when the Guard does show up, they see something else entirely.

Ali: Yeah, I think he is protesting too much, he’s like, I have to make it look like we’re making out. Oh, no!

Aradia: Yes. The only solution. The only solution. Yeah.

Ali: I have to kiss you, it’s the only way. The only way.

Bree: The only way. This is a time honored trope. The, Let’s kiss to look innocent, distracted. Basically, we’re making out, we’re not sneaking into someplace. The whole reason we’re in this forbidden place as we are kissing, don’t take us seriously. We’re not a threat.

Ali: And it’s a ten out of ten trope. I love it.

Aradia: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Definitely.

Ali: I just always laugh because it’s like, Oh, this is the only thing we could do to look innocent. Yes, the only thing. Yeah, absolutely. Obviously.

Bree: We put it in our third Mercenary Librarians book, and I read one that I love from Jessie Mihalik, who also used it in her third Consortium series. I just love it. It’s a good one. Maybe I love it because of this. Who knows? Maybe this was formative.

Ali: This ingrained in you.

Bree: Is this what taught me to love that trope? Maybe.

Ali: It induced the first kicks and squeals of joy feelings. That’s always how I when I read romance, always kicking, kicking my feet. For some reason.

Bree: They figure out that they’re probably going to be looking for like two blonds, two women and two men, blond girls. So they put a coif over Cailet’s hair and basically, you know, make her look like a boy, a skinny young boy. And Elomar can make himself invisible with a Ward.

Ali: Very cool, very helpful.

Aradia: I want that.

Bree: Basically they go off. Cailet doesn’t want to leave, but Collan’s like, I’ve got this. Go to this inn. I promise I’ll take care of her.

Ali: And take care of her, he does. Am I right?

Bree: I think there’s one line in here that is funny, you know, to that to be found under the most unbelievable or improbable circumstances ever. And Sarra was like, Oh, so me having sex with you, that would be the most improbable circumstance. Obviously.

Aradia: But he does pay her the backhanded compliment of saying no one could mistake her for a boy, which is to be read as a backhanded compliment of like, you are hot, woman.

Bree: Urghhh… Do we nuance that one?

Aradia: I think it’s pretty straightforward. He thinks she’s hot.

Bree: Yeah, as compliments go, I mean, little cisnormative, also a little weird, but it’s just, nineties, man. It was the nineties.

Aradia: It’s meant to be cute. So we’re going to take it that way? Ladededada.

Bree: What he does with her hair is, he mixes some combination of like, some mussel and seaweed together. And I’m just thinking, oh, man, that is going to smell so crazy. As a little beach girl -.

Aradia: That was all I could think. That was all I could think was how mucilaginous and stinky this would be. Sensory, fucking, nightmare.

Ali: Mucilaginous. Ugh, I don’t even know what that word means, but it’s horrific.

Aradia: It means exactly what it sounds like.

Bree: It sounds like what it means.

Aradia: It is an onomatopoeia. The feeling you have, that is the word. That’s what it means to me.

Ali: Eww. Mucilaginous.

Bree: At one point, she’s like, You’re not going to cut my hair. And I was like, relatable, Don’t cut her hair. So, but they apparently use this to dye leather. And so she’s like, Great, I’m going to have crazy colored hair now. But yeah, basically they get to this point. He throws all of his clothes away because he’s like, Yeah, listen, I’m going to distract them when they show up. She’s like, Your ego is massive. And he’s like, Yep, it is.

Aradia: That’s not the only thing that’s massive. That’s literally his argument. That’s literally his argument.

Bree: Yeah.

Aradia: It’s, I will distract them with how well hung I am.

Bree: Yeah. He’s like, you want to take a peek, it’ll boost your confidence?

Aradia: Amazing.

Bree: So they end this with Sarra saying, I may kill you anyway. And then they hear the government issue boots tromping down the stairs and he says, Some other time, First Daughter. And then he kisses her. And then we switch to Cailet’s point of view, because of course we do.

Aradia: And the fact that we cut away at that moment is what puts the absolute seal on knowing that that is the love interest story of this thing. I was in no doubt, but the fact that we cut away at that moment is what really just tonally sets it for me. Like, there is no doubt now.

Bree: That’s the moment. So now I’m going to say it, Ali. I think Collan just exists in this book with these other three because he is the scrappy love interest. He’s the boy that gets to come along.

Ali: Fine. I’ll allow the boy.

Bree: We’ll allow the boy, part two?

Aradia: Yes.

Ali: We’ll allow the boy, part two. But I still am like, what?

Bree: How is he related to everybody? I mean, everybody’s related to everyone.

Ali: He’s just the well hung stable boy, apparently.

Aradia: Yes. That’s literally what he’s there for.

Bree: Yep!

Ali: Which, you know what? Fine. It’s been done to women so much in literature, we might as well do a real role reversal.

Bree: There you go.

Aradia: Equality. Here you go.

0:57:43 Rising, chapter 9: Nothing happens, and it is cute

Bree: So part nine is a lot of walking and talking. Did you guys, did anything jump out? Do you remember anything about this? We learned a lot about starfish in this universe.

Aradia: Oh, yeah. Yeah. This whole, the starfish – I like the starfish thing. It added some local color, like the local customs and like luck charms, and how she, like, uses the local magic to figure out how to work her magic. Like, I’m enjoying seeing how the magic system works through the Captal’s eyes. I’m finding it much more illuminating than everything else we’ve gotten. But mostly she just thinks about how magic works, and then engineers a cool solution to a problem.

Bree: Yeah, I like this little bit of worldbuilding we get here with this. Shrines are shaped like a starfish, and people go before a journey and, like, take a charm and put it in the arm that is pointing in the direction they’re going to sail, for good luck. And I thought that was like, really cute.

Ali: That is really cute.

Bree: To draw the Saint’s attention to the voyage. But Cailet plans to use those arms to focus the magic that she’s going to cast out. Like, I don’t know. I guess I’m imagining that like, shooting out of the arms of a starfish, like a magic laser starfish.

Aradia: Yes. Magic laser starfish is definitely what’s happening. Psychedelic magic laser starfish.

Bree: Psychedelic magic laser – Yes, very much. It’s just like, Pew! So what she’s doing is casting a – Oh God, I forgot what it’s called. Is it a –

Aradia: A beacon?

Bree: – a seeking or a calling or – there’s something that it’s called, but they may not have said here. But she starts getting really technical. She’s saying: “News that all Mage Guardians are required to know is disseminated in this fashion—the approaching death of a Captal, a gathering for defensive action or discussion of policy, a dire threat from the Lords of Malerris—” And basically she keeps using words that like, don’t sound like a 17 year old barely educated Waster and that, like, Taig freaks out, again.

Aradia: Yeah, this part really fucked me up because, like, it’s super relatable as an autistic kid, you end up with a really massive vocabulary and a tendency to pick the longest, most roundabout verbiage to say what you’re going to say. It’s just sort of a thing. And for her to be doing that, for a completely different reason, but still, to be doing that thing where she’s talking way above her age, her grade level or whatever, and having that bother the people around her, was extra heart wrenching to me.

Bree: Yeah, it definitely – the Taig thing hurts me because I know it hurts her.

Aradia: It’s yeah, it’s like the one relationship she has and it hurts her the worst, you know, from before, you know?

Bree: Yeah.

Aradia: The Taig stuff really hurts.

Bree: And he eventually sort of like, you know, forces it down and like, you know, tries to pass it off as a joke by saying, you know, Please tell me you don’t remember the profanity my brother learned from Val.

Ali: Hmm! That’s cute.

Bree: Yeah, he’s trying.

Ali: I’m hoping that they can get it together, those two, and be friends again.

Aradia: I think they will. She’s young and dramatic in thinking that they’re never going to find resolution. And I think once the rebellion’s happened, they’ll like –

Ali: I feel like he needs a little time with this. That’s all.

Aradia: Yeah, he just needs time.

Ali: To adjust. There’s an adjustment happening.

Bree: Yeah. This has only been like a handful of days. Maybe a week or two when they were like, in that house, mostly while they were planning reckless jailbreaks and stuff. So it hasn’t been a lot of time. But she casts her spell and it works. Basically, you know, in all of the different directions. Oh, a Summons, I think it’s called a Summons. And so they all sit down to wait after she has cast it, and they’re like, Will wait, you sleep. And she falls asleep. And that’s it. If there’s nothing else you guys want to – because mostly this is just sort of talking and cool worldbuilding tidbits.

Aradia: Yeah, that’s all I had for that.

Bree: Anything from you, Ali?

Ali: No, it was just fun to learn about -I feel like this is like the comedown from the big high intensity action sequence that we had earlier. You know what I mean? So this is kind of like, we’re going to come up with the next thing we need to do in order to address the Glenin of it all. We need to get our group together and get on the same page, before – So, yeah, it feels like this is this really important character moment in between, before we get to another big moment.

Bree: Well, the next one is more kissing.

Ali: More kissing!

1:02:40 Music break, Rising, chapter 10: The cringe on the road to class consciousness

Aradia: We return to the kiss.

Bree: We return to – well, we return to the after the kiss, or rather the kiss in progress, I guess. Where Sarra is thinking she’d never get the taste of him out of her mouth, which she calls unsavory. So there’s some mixed messages about whether she liked this kiss or not.

Ali: Well, here’s the thing. He does have, I’ve been in jail for a day breath, which is not awesome.

Aradia: Right.

Ali: That’s not the preferred kissing breath that one would hope for. So I feel like, you know – and she’s still kind of in this, She’s protesting too much mode.

Bree: Yeah. She’s running out of breath when the Ryka Legion soldiers show up. And what do we think about these strapping ladies, who I feel like are the example of what we have been asking from this gender flip the whole time.

Ali: I hate them so much.

Aradia: I love them so much.

Ali: Well, yeah, I feel like it’s like, I hate what they’re doing, but I’m like, Yes, this is the role reversal we have been looking for.

Aradia: Exactly.

Ali: Thank you.

Bree: “They were tall, strapping women in their late thirties who wore their swords the way wealthy women wore jewels: with easy pride and absolute authority.“ Yes, thank you. We will have more of these.

Ali: I like hearing about strapping women.

Bree: Now we will watch them sexually harass Collan! So, that part’s not great. I’m not laughing at that. It’s just, the gender flip of it all is, is what it is like.

Ali: Finally.

Aradia: It felt full and believable and like, even though Col literally was using himself as a distraction, I still felt uncomfortable with how much they were harassing him. Very, very thorough role reversal. I appreciated that.

Bree: This one felt like dead on, this felt like I was just reading what happens to women in fantasy, happening to Collan.

Ali: Especially in compromising positions.

Bree: Yeah, because it’s not like women in fantasy don’t use their sexuality as a weapon plenty of times. I mean, and I write women who do that all the time, but that doesn’t make it fun to get this shit coming back at you. And I think this captures that scene too.

Ali: Right.

Bree: It’s like there’s a cost to that. It’s not fun to use your sexuality as a weapon, usually.

Ali: I’m happy they didn’t get the cloak back. Yeah.

Aradia: Yeah. I appreciated that Col was forced into being naked for the situation, and then, like, getting any scrap of clothes. Because, again, like, how often do we have the scenario where, like, the damsel in distress just happens to have lost her clothes along the way? So again, very believable writing by Melanie. Get that man a cloak.

Bree: Good job.

Ali: Yes.

Bree: So when they get caught, he yelps and pretends he’s shy. He like, rolls off Sarra and covers his groin and his uncovered hair like that.

Ali: And how many times have we seen the woman in that situation, where she’s the one trying to cover up, and the guy’s like, I don’t care.

Aradia: And it’s like, the two things, right? Because with women it’s always the groin and the chest. I like that Melanie has the groin and the hair. Like, there are two things that he has to protect.

Ali: Yes. Because it’s extra vulnerable when there’s two things.

Aradia: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Ali: Because you only have so many hands.

Bree: And then he, like, looks at Sarra, makes it clear Sarra is going to have to talk her way out of this. And she rises to the occasion, she decides to go straight for, Don’t tell my mother.

Aradia: Yeah, brilliant.

Ali: Don’t tell my dad.

Aradia: Yeah, Yeah.

Bree: Basically, I’m doing something I’m not supposed to be doing. But for her, it is an interesting way that it’s sort of like, don’t be fucking with inappropriate boys, you know? So. And yes, they are just staring at Col. They like his anatomy. Just as he boasted, apparently. One of them says she has more taste than sense. Col claims that Sarra ordered him to undress and then threw his clothes into the sea. And apparently they believe this, they’re like, This checks out. Nothing weird about this story. I too would have done the same thing.

Aradia: Uh huh, uh huh, exactly. Exactly. Privileged class people chuckling over what they do to their less privileged counterparts.

Bree: Yeah. Yeah. They’re mostly like, you know, Wow. Sarra is feistier than she looks. So, yes, they give him a cloak. They call him boy, even though he’s, like, 30.

Ali: Mm hmm.

Aradia: Infantilizing. Very important. Yes.

Ali: Yeah. Yep, yep, yep, yep, yep. Sorry. Just. Yeah, yeah.

Aradia: That tracks.

Ali: A 100 times, Yep.

Bree: Yep. So yeah, they use this pretty well. This whole situation, you know, I mean, I don’t know what Collan’s packing, but they get a cloak and then they get a safe passage token. So he is, like, clearly very pleased with himself. Sarra’s baffled, and Collan’s like, I told you, I am the shit. One of them does mention a Fourth Tier stable hand that she got in trouble for messing around with, who was almost as hung as your boy there. So Collan’s clearly impressive to the ladies.

Aradia: He’s got the male equivalent of, like, double D’s or more.

Bree: Yeah. And he’s quite smug at the end of this. He is smug goat.

Aradia: Yeah, basically. He’s like, Did I not say that was going to work?

Ali: I mean, it wasn’t a bad plan, Aradia gave the plan the stamp of approval, it was a good plan. And look, it worked out. Good plan, Aradia’s stamp of approval, and it works.

Aradia: Oh, boy.

Ali: Aradia has a 100% plan guarantee.

Bree: So there’s not a ton more of this section here. Basically, we do get one more of Collan and Sarra’s political lessons, where he informs her that begging is a trade, basically. That you have to work just as hard at begging as you do at like, you know, a lot of other things.

Ali: I would agree with that.

Bree: Yeah. The profession, he calls it a profession.

Aradia: Yeah. That tracks. Not only is it expensive to be poor and hard work to be poor, it’s like half performance art, half survival act, right? Like it’s a lot of work.

Ali: Oh, my God.

Bree: And he says, It’s not thievery, but this is. And he goes and steals them some clothes, some really alarming clothing. One thing that we forgot during all this, part of the reason they couldn’t run, is that Sarra’s ankle is hurt, so she’s sort of limping still.

Aradia: The wind was a mixed bag.

Bree: Yeah, the wind, the wind is a shipper. The wind is like, I’m going to hurt her ankle, and now you’ll have to carry her everywhere.

Ali: Cute, cute. We love that. Cute.

Bree: He tries to wash the stuff out of her hair and get cleaned up and, you know, otherwise, basically he steals all the stuff and leaves them the cloak ind return, figuring they can cut it up since it’s good fabric.

Ali: That was nice. And I’m glad they didn’t get their cloak back. Yeah.

Bree: Yes, they were a little sexual harassy. So no cloak for you.

Ali: Yeah. So we will make you pay for it in cloak.

Aradia: Yes.

Bree: Oh, I forgot. This keeps going. Yeah. They have to get out of the city and they do another good job of like – Well here’s the first change. She snaps at him and tells him servitude suits him, and then she feels bad.

Aradia: I wanted to slap her.

Ali: Oh, that was no good.

Bree: So at least she’s starting to regret when she says this stuff. So. But yeah, that was a, Eh, no.

Aradia: And then they go and they start getting, they get out of town and they get to this little, hovel, hamlet place. And she’s like, What’s going on? He’s like, This is poverty, First Daughter. And she actually sits with that because she’s literally never seen people this poor.

Bree: Yeah.

Ali: You know, I will say, extreme poverty is shocking. You know, it is shocking to you, because I feel you get the concept, but when you either have to experience it or like, really see it, it is shocking. It should be shocking.

Aradia: The difference between being poor and being in poverty, like, in people’s minds, those are very different things. And I’m not talking about the poverty line, because that’s really dependent on circumstance. I’ve lived a lot of my life below the poverty line and it was fine. But then there’s like poverty, like actual, true, existential. It gets in every part of your life, poverty. And it’s a very different thing than just being poor and having to be creative with your money and your resources. Like, they’re different.

Bree: Yeah, Yeah, He says, “But it’s about time you saw what you and your kind have done.”, and she is like, My kind? And he points out that there are at least three names here. One is upper Tier and like, you know – but the problem is, when you have these sprawling families and you have primogeniture, and like one person, the First Daughter of the First Daughter of the First Daughter continues to like, inherit everything. You know, these branch really far after, you know, 20 generations. And so all of these people who are distant cousins are basically –

Ali: Screwed.

Bree: – ignored.

Ali: Well, and not to mention, there was that First Daughter who sucks. Then we imprisoned her. What was her name, starts with a G.

Bree: Geria?

Ali: Yeah. I mean, she was saying, I don’t see why I should have to be responsible for these people, these sprawling – So if you have a First Daughter that sucks, you’re screwed.

Aradia: Yeah, There was no system to enforce her doing her job or to take away her responsibilities and give them to someone who would do a good job.

Bree: Yeah, and Sarra says, “I refuse to take responsibility for the way these people live! But I’ll tell you something, Collan Rosvenir. I intend to take responsibility for changing it!”

Aradia: Very aspirational.

Ali: That’s a good line.

Bree: So she’s all revved up and he says, Prove it. Not to me, to them.

Aradia: Change your Instagram profile to a black square.

Bree: Ouch! That was the roast of the century. Yeah. Sarra changed her profile to a black square, and Collan’s like, Okay, not enough.

Ali: This is about one person.

Aradia: I’m not speaking from personal experience.

Ali: Listen!

Bree: Many of us had to go through the Black square stage to get beyond the black square stage.

Ali: Here is the thing, because I knew that the black square was not helpful or effective, but I was like, But if I don’t post the black square, is that also bad, you know what I read? I was like, I’m going to donate and do the other things. But I was like, What if I don’t post the black square because I think that social media activism can be kind of a mixed bag, especially if you don’t do anything else but post black square and feel like a good person. But if you don’t post the black square, then do people go like, Oh, they didn’t post black square, so clearly they’re not being supportive of the, you know? So it’s just like a whole thing.

Aradia: It’s a journey.

Bree: Here’s the thing. I think that if you live your life online, to the point that people can see what your activism and what your priorities are, then they’re not going to ask when, like the latest, Put your paperclip in your bio, or put a black square, or whatever. They’re not going to ask, because they know you’ve already proved –

Ali: A paper clip in your bio?

Aradia: Safety pin. Remember the safety pins?

Bree: Oh, safety pin. Sorry.

Ali: What’s that?

Bree: I changed it to paper clips somehow. Oh, that was some sort of like, supposed to say, You’re safe with me.

Aradia: Yeah. You wear asafety pin, and people know they can come to you if they’re experiencing a racism.

Ali: Oh, is it like the blue pumpkin thing?

Bree: I don’t know what that is, but probably.

Aradia: Vaguely, in that spirit. Yeah.

Ali: Okay. The blue pumpkin thing is like –

Aradia: (sarcastic voice) I’m autistic, don’t have weird expectations of me, right?

Ali: Oh, yeah. It’s like. But then it’s like, why the fuck are you having weird expectations of children anyway? Like, if they don’t want to say Trick or Treat, stop making kids say fucking Trick or Treat for candy, you weirdo. Just give them the candy.

Bree: Yeah.

Ali: You know, like, why are we even – or like when they did folks with an X?

Aradia: Oh, God, that one drives me up the fucking –

Ali: To make a gender neutral pronoun even gender neutral-er.

Bree: But, is folks not gender neutral?

Aradia: Well, it’s, it’s kind of cutesy, that early 2000s, I give a shit, kind of way.

Bree: I mean I get folx, if I’m like flavr savr tomato-ing it.

Aradia: Exactly.

Bree: Less, if I’m trying to make it more gender neutral.

Ali: No, there was a period where it was like, That’s a symbol that I am an ally, if I do folx with an X.

Bree: Yeah. I think there’s a lot of trying to find a solution that’s not admitting that you’re the problem and you just have to work every day to not be.

Ali: Yeah, you’re like, Look, I’m not the problem. I put an X in folx.

Bree: There is no one life hack to no longer benefiting from white supremacy. That’s just like sort of a –

Aradia: And that’s what Sarra reminds me of, is that really aspirational several paragraph social media post, where you really express how much you want to absolve yourself from being responsible for this at all. You know, it’s just like, I’ve been there! I hate reading this.

Bree: The sentiments behind it are real. It’s just she has – Collan is making it clear to her, that she can’t just say, Oh, I’m come to tell you what is better for you and who is better for you to vote for. You stupid poors do not understand why.

Ali: Yeah, you need to vote for me because I’m not evil. But then I’m going to get into office and do nothing to actually help you. Okay?

Aradia: Yeah, I promise I’ll be different than everyone else who’s made these promises before. Just trust the process. And in 24 months, when I ask you for more money, I promise that will be the last time. Until the next time.

Bree: Yep. And you know, so this is a conversation and they have to keep having it. And I think that makes sense too. I think every time they have this conversation, she gets a little closer. You know, she’s moving. You know, I think at the beginning of this book, she wouldn’t have even put the black square in her profile.

Aradia: Right. Yeah.

Bree: So, I mean, we’re seeing Sarra moving closer to understanding this. And there’s this one line, “Fundamental honesty kept her silent. Because he was right. To use power wisely it was first necessary to possess power—which was rarely if ever used with true wisdom.”

Aradia: Those who want power should not have it.

Ali: Exactly. Exactly. Ugh. Anyway.

Aradia: I like that Collan is investing in her education, though. He is seeing her growth arc and being like, Fine, I’ll help you understand the world. Like, I do appreciate that from him.

Bree: Yeah. And it gives her one more lesson, where he says, “I’ll tell you two other things about poverty. You feel sorry for these people, don’t you?” And she’s like, Of course I do! And he says, “What if I told you I pity you for not having access to your magic?” And oh, she doesn’t like that.

Aradia: Pride.

Bree: You know, pride, man. Pride is a thing, and it’s a real thing. And she is not giving these people their full humanity if she’s not giving them the right to, like, deny her help and, you know, recognizing that everybody wants to feel autonomous and that they have agency and not just be your little pet project.

Aradia: My life is mine. To quote Sarra herself.

Bree: Yes. And then he says, Poverty isn’t noble suffering. You know, it can be dirty and brutal and murderous. So sleep close tonight! And we end this section really with her being like, You’ve thought a lot about this, haven’t you? And he’s like, Not really.


Aradia: Class consciousness happens when you’re at the bottom.

Bree: Because that’s the thing if you’ve lived – this is the thing that I think you always have to come back to, no matter what kind of privilege you’re talking about. There’s people who have lived it and they don’t have to think about it or learn it. They just know it, because that’s been their life experience. And the people who haven’t had that yet. They have to learn it.

Ali: Yeah. And so it’s like it’s hard because to a certain extent you’re like, I do have to give people grace who are in the process of learning, to a certain extent. But it’s also very frustrating to be seeing people learning, when you’re like, How do you not know this, right? How are you not aware? Learn faster.

Aradia: Yeah, yeah.

Bree: I know. I think that the key here is to like – when it’s not something that impacts you, you know, like if it’s something that doesn’t impact you, have more grace with them. Because you can have the grace that continues to help them learn, and take that burden from the people who don’t need to let them, you know, micro aggress upon them with their clumsy learning. You know, take that burden up for someone else, have the grace. Because any one of us who have learned something, we went through an awkward stage, and we said things that make us cringe that we’re trying not to remember.

Ali: My God.

Bree: We did things that made us cringe, that we’re trying not to remember.

Aradia: Guaranteed.

Ali: And I think about it, like, once a week.

Bree: Yeah. So when you get to the other side, try to have grace for the people coming up behind you, I think is always a real thing.

Aradia: Yeah. You want to meet people where they are and encourage them.

Ali: Right. Encourage their growth.

Bree: Don’t enable their bad behavior. Let me be clear. Do not let them hurt other people. The first thing you do is stop the damage. Yeah, You know, it’s not like, Oh, honey, could you stop stab- no, please stop stabbing. Like, that’s not. But once the stabbing has stopped. You can, you know.

Ali: You can go like, Do you want to learn how not to -.

Bree: Get the knife out of their hand, and then you just –

Ali: Yeah, exactly.

Bree: Yeah. I just wanted to be clear about that. We don’t have to be gentle with active stabbers.

Ali: Yeah, right.

Aradia: But, you know, it’s like, you get frustrated people for not being at where you’re at, and it’s like, Everyone’s on their own journey. Figure out what the distance is between you and them and then, yeah. Don’t talk over people who are directly impacted, but also take up the slack of those people who want to learn and are going through the same arc as you, and they’re just earlier on in it. It’s important.

Ali: Yeah, exactly. And then also acknowledge that maybe you’re not perfect either. Maybe you also, as everyone, have got to grow.

Bree: None of us are.

Aradia: No, I’m done. I’m finished. I’m never going to improve further. I’ve – I’m done.

Ali: I’m done learning. I’m 31, actually, I’ve achieved perfection at 31.

Bree: Listen. The way that I got out of my own head about feeling bad that I have things to learn, is when I realized that I’ve been writing books like – this was like five years ago, I have been writing books for ten years, and I am still trying to, like, drag the subtextual misogyny out of them.

Ali: Oh, my God.

Bree: And this is something I live with and know about and care about and have studied and learned, and it directly impacts me. And I still replicate it. And if I’m still replicating something that is really literally my lived experience. Like, obviously I would be insanely arrogant to think that I am not way worse on all of the fronts that aren’t my lived experience, you know?

Ali: Right.

Bree: So, and it doesn’t make me bad. It just makes me ignorant and in need of, you know, I need to go and become less so.

Aradia: You can’t know everything. That’s just like literally impossible. You have to learn your whole life otherwise, like what is humaning, even?

Ali: We’re all just here trying to do a little bit better than we did the day before. And then there are gremlin days. And those are also allowed.

Aradia: There are side quests. There is backsliding.

Ali: Or even just your no progress day. You’re like, I have made no progress today. And that’s allowed.

Aradia: Rest is important. Rest is revolutionary, even.

Ali: But I think we’re always trying to learn, to do better and be better.

Bree: Yeah, I’m going to try to do some of that next week. It’s gonna be fun, and scary.

Ali: You must. You are compelled by me.

Bree: You have to get me in a headlock.

Aradia: First we got to get out of this recording, and then we can send you off to rest.

Ali: Yeah, We’re not exactly helping in the resting regard.

Bree: That’s okay. I love this. We just have, like, a lot of political discussion. But that was what this chapter was. I mean, Sarra and Collan are like, holding their own little seminar on the reality of political activism. So I’m here for it. We are at 72%!

Ali: I feel like we just did the equivalent of the college freshman 2am political discussion on this podcast.

Bree: Yeah.

Aradia: But see, the thing is, I never actually did that in my real life. I did it just all in my head, living in the woods. So like, this is me, like having my late blooming, like that moment, but in public for a bunch of people on the internet, forevermore, to get to witness. Except, there’s like only seven people that listen. So like, it’s fine.

Bree: Immortalized, nothing, nothing wrong with that.

Ali: That’s the stressful thing when you’re writing, when you’re doing stuff like this where you go, Okay, I know that probably and hopefully I will grow in the next ten years as a person. And I know that I’m not a fully baked person yet, hopefully. And then you go, So in ten years, when I look back at this stuff, how excited am I going to be about the things that I said?

Aradia: Negative infinity.

Ali: Hopefully, more excited about hearing those than the thoughts and opinions I had at 20, certainly. But, you know, I’m hoping I will think of myself as a little silly sausage in ten years.

Bree: I was 28 when I published our first thing, I was 28 when we published our first book. And I’m 43 now. And let me tell you, it’s been a journey. I don’t like to reread the earlier stuff, even though there are lots of readers who still love them and like, they’re rough around the edges and people know that. But it’s really hard for me because I’m like, Oh, oh, that was clumsy, that was awkward. But if you can reread your old stuff and still love it as much, you’re not growing. So that’s the goal.

Ali: Exactly.

Bree: Like I keep saying, make a world in which your stuff ages poorly.

Ali: I think about that a lot. I also feel like, with my characters, I’ll make a choice and I look at my first choice. I’m like, okay, so my first choice is usually going to be like the societal bullshit. And then I go, okay, so here’s the first choice. How is this kind of societal bullshit? And then I go, Okay, is there a way that I can do this in a more innovative way, that still feels like a human wrote this, with all of the subtext that’s involved in writing a thing? Because we’ve built up thousands of years of subtext as a society. It’s hard. I mean, it’s hard, but it’s worth doing.

Bree: And it is fun in the end, too, though, I really think. And this podcast is fun.

1:27:19 Wrap up!

Aradia: Yeah. So let us know in the comments what your 2am college freshmen take on all of this really heavy, important stuff is. That’s what the discord is for. Let’s keep it going.

Bree: Yeah, let’s absolutely do that. And next week we are reading the Rising, parts 11 to 16, and guess who’s back in the next chapter?

Ali: Glenin!

Bree: It’s Glenin.

Ali: Back again.

Aradia: Our favorite Gaslight, Gatekeep, Genocide, Girlboss.

Bree: Yes, it’s been a while. It’s been a while, since we –

Aradia: Our favorite, mind you, not our second favorite, our absolute top favorite.

Bree: Our absolute favorite.

Ali: Favorite. 10 out of 10. 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!