You Want To Have Murder Punch-Card Lady In Your Corner: Episode Notes

Ruins of Ambrai by Melanie Rawn

Welcome to episode 2 of the Hot Nuance Book Club, where we are tackling the Glenin section of the intro of The Ruins of Ambrai (pages 49-94). The genealogy is hitting hard and fast in this week’s episode, as are issues of biology and control. We spend some time on publishing in the 1990s and get tangled in the philosophical differences between the Weavers of the Loom and the Wheel of Time.

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Transcripts by Anna
Art by Bree
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Episode Transcript

0:00:00 Welcome and introduction

Ali: : Hello, and welcome to the Hot Nuance Book Club, a podcast in which a novelist, a screenwriter and a podcaster walk into a book, diving into its craft and impact in their mission to bring nuance back. I’m Ali: and I’m a screenwriter and former development executive, and also I am the co-host of Wheel Takes podcast and the creator of the Grinwell Cup on YouTube, a hotness bracket that happens every March, ranking the hotness of the characters in the Wheel of Time.

Aradia: : I am Aradia: . I am one half of the Wheel of Time Spoilers podcast, which is currently rereading Crossroads of Twilight, as well as a podcast producer for Fox and Raven Media.

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

Ali: : Currently, we are nuancing our way through the Ruins of Ambrai, pages 49 through 94, the section called Glenin. Shall we dive in?

Bree: Let’s do it. But first we all need to load into Bree’s time travel machine. Please keep your hands and feet inside the car, as I take you back to 1994. (swooshing sound effect)

What has happened recently? An 11 year old Anna Paquin just won the Oscar for The Piano. The Lion King is asking all of us, Can you feel the love tonight? The Simpsons has just broadcast its 100th episode, and I know that you would all like to go Google and find out how many episodes there have been now, but you can’t, because Google hasn’t been invented yet.

So I’ll just tell you, from the safety of the time machine, there have been over 750 episodes of The Simpsons now, which is insane. Also, a small online bookstore called Amazon recently got its start in Jeff Bezos’s garage. And in November of 1994, bestselling author Melanie Rawn followed up her two critically acclaimed trilogies about Dragons with a bold take on a matriarchal world of magic, rebellion, and justice.

0:02:24 Start of book discussion

Welcome to the Ruins of Ambrai by Melanie Rawn. So, you guys, you got to read the Glenin chapters this week, which threw a literal metric ton of genealogy at you, rapidly.

Ali: : I felt like I was talking to my aunt, who is in charge of the genealogy of our family. Every time I see her, she’s got a new scandal that we were supposedly involved in. So I’m going to need to really break down what happened in this chapter, just because there were a lot of events, where all of a sudden I was like, Wait, who’s dead? Everyone?

Bree: This chapter was interesting, because also there were several parts of it and it sometimes jumped back and forth in time, which made it even more confusing. So let’s just start with where it started. It started with our new focal character, Glenin Feiran, and the first thing we learn about her is that she has somehow been taken away by her father to go live in the Capital fancy place with our friend, the First Councillor of the murder punch cards, that we met last week or we heard about last week. The lady who likes murdering.

Ali: : It was kind of like Alanis Morissette was her name.

Aradia: : I’ll take it.

(all laugh)

Bree: Yes, I know Allynis Ambrai is the grandma.

Ali: : Well, there were two that kind of looked like Alanis. There was that one, and the other one.

Aradia: : I had to, like, reread the chapter a dozen times to figure out that they were different people. Eventually, I had to make notes being like AN versus AL, because I do not know what is happening. Because they’re enemies. It’s so confusing!

Ali: : When I give Robert Jordan a lot of shit for naming characters really similar things. So I do have to, in the interest of fairness, give Melanie Rawn a lot of shit for the fact that these two very pivotal characters in this chapter had like identical fucking names.

Bree: Okay, Avira Anniyas is the First Councillor’s name. Her first name is Avira and then Anniyas. And then her nemesis, who is Glenin’s grandmother, is Allynis Ambrai. So we’re just going to call her Grandma Ambrai from now on. And the First Councillor, I think that is a way we can sort of separate them.

Ali: : Meemaw Ambrai.

Bree: Meemaw Ambrai, there we go. Meemaw Ambrai and First Councillor.

Ali: : All right, perfect.

Bree: So meanwhile, Ambrai is quite a character, as you’ll find out.

Ali: : So, okay, so we start with the classic Parent Trap solution, which is one parent gets one child and one parent gets another child, and for some reason we’re just fine with not having a relationship with one of our children. I was like, What a cracked co-parenting scheme.

Bree: So Auvrey Feiran, who seems to be this complicated, powerful, magical figure, has just ghosted on his wife and younger daughter, whose name was Sarra. Coincidence for last chapter, we met Sassy Sarra.

Aradia: : Yeah. That caught my eye.

Bree: And yeah, it seems a little bit – It’s great that he just got to take that all eldest daughter.

Aradia: : She had a complicated story about being an orphan and all this fancy stuff.

Bree: We met an orphaned Sarra, young orphaned Sarra in Collan’’s point of view. So now we know that this dad took the eldest child, Glenin, and left Sarra behind with Mom. But we don’t know much else.

Ali: : That’s not going to get her a complex at all.

Bree: So, yeah, interesting. Especially in a world that doesn’t seem strong on paternal rights. It is sort of interesting that he got to take this woman’s first daughter away from her and just move off.

Ali: : I mean, did he get to?

Bree: I guess if you’re friend with the murder punch card lady, you know.

Ali: : Yeah. It sounds like he gave the girls a choice as to who to stay with, dad or mom, which: If anyone is considering divorce out there, Don’t do that to kids. Decide amongst yourselves. Don’t make them choose between you. That’s fucked up.

Aradia: : I got the impression that he just, like, grabbed the elder one because he liked her better, which was kind of like, hmm.

Ali: : I’m not trying to judge.

Bree: None of it felt like functional parenting. Whatever was going down.

Ali: : There was not a lot of good vibes happening in that regard. But it also sounded like he was convinced Glenin was going to have powers which ended up manifesting. But did Sarra? Because it seemed like he was like, I have to take Glenin for her own protection and safety, right? But then I was like, you have another child, who’s a child of someone who is magic. Are these all just magic children? Are these special magic babies who will get together and magic baby punch everyone?

Bree: I mean, you would wonder why he’s so convinced that Glenin has magic and is just apparently not concerned about the younger one. It does seem a little bit odd to me.

Ali: : But maybe he also figured that he could save one, but not both, because like, maybe they’d come after him if he tried to take both. But if he took one, they still had a spare.

Bree: That is also a possibility. So he takes her and he does something very controversial, which is what is the inciting incident of this chapter. He gives her his last name. So in this world where Ambrai is like THE name. Ambrai is the, I mean, I don’t even know what to compare it to, the Blood of the Blood of the Blood. They’re the fancy pantsiest. So he took that name from her and gave her his name, which is what she’s getting made fun of in this opening chapter. Because who has their father’s name? Nobody has their father’s name.

Ali: : It’s a weird thing. Yeah. And they decide that she’s one of the Tiers because of it. And they’re like, Why are you in a Blood dance class? You’re like a Tier kid. And they all start chanting Tier at her. And personally, personally: dumb chant.

Bree: Fourth Tier. They call her a Fourth Tier. So the worst Tier. Yeah. Because obviously, if she won’t tell them who her mother was, it must have been someone horrible and shameful, right? So this is where we learn what the Tiers are. So who’s in the mood to discuss some light fantasy eugenics?

Aradia: : Yes!

Ali: : More than light!

Bree: Some intense, some heavy, some serious business fantasy eugenics, because that is what we have learned, that the Blood and Tier system actually is. It is several thousand years ago magic. They used magic, a big magic war corrupted everything in the world and people started having unhealthy, sick babies and they were like, you know what the solution to this is?

Let’s just say that everybody who can have healthy babies are the important people. And if you don’t have healthy babies, you don’t get to participate in society or reproduce anymore. And I can’t say I love it.

Ali: : I can’t either. I mean, I think as three people who have disabilities, it’s always a funky topic, right? When people are like, who gets to reproduce? Who gets to stay Ali: ve? It’s always awkward when you kind of go, Well, obviously there are certain things that you don’t want to pass on because they’re horrible, and you don’t want someone to have to live that way. But where does it end? And that’s always the tricky thing when it comes to eugenics.

Aradia: : Right, like they’re tying disability to your moral value, to your right to exist, to your value to others and yourself; and to make disability an indicator of your value is real gross, real sticky and icky and and yet, yeah, like they literally had this problem come into their world and this seems to be the way to deal with it. And like, you got to do what you got to do to survive, right? Like you can see how they have an impetus for this. This isn’t out of nowhere. They did weird fucking magic and ended up with weird fucking results. So, like they had to do something. But having that be the basis of your entire social hierarchy is…Yeah. Real skin crawling.

Bree: Yeah. I’m going to read this exactly:

“What it meant,” he said grimly, “was that families that showed no defects for five Generations were judged clean of taint. The cleanest—the Bloods—gained land and riches by selling their sons in marriage to the Tiers, and sometimes allowed their younger daughters to be bought the same way. The price was ruinous, but worth it to have the next Generation bear a Blood Name. “The Tiers, he explained, had been established according to the number of defects per hundred births in that fifth, benchmark Generation. Any family with more than four was forbidden to reproduce itself.

Ali: : Now, could you imagine how awkward it would be to be that one relative with glasses at Thanksgiving?

Bree: They did this, like straight up. Do not have glasses in this world. Like I think that they mentioned that some people squint, but, yeah, they don’t even do that because if you admit that, that’s … you know.

Ali: : Yeah. They go, Oh squinty Jan over there.

Aradia: : Yeah. A lot of bruised shins for those people, because they have to just pretend they know where they’re going.

Bree: So yeah. Let’s not pretend this was some, like, you know, fatal, babies are going to die the minute they’re born thing, we’re talking, near-sighted people are like, No, I guess you can’t have babies, son. This was not light eugenics. This was horrifying.

Ali: : Without my glasses, I can’t drive. I can’t do, you know, I can’t do anything. I’m pretty visually impaired without them. So that would be rough. That would be a rough, rough go, for sure.

Aradia: : It’s also interesting to me, though, that this apparently only applies to people with capital n Names, the common people apparently are both unaffected and unrestricted by these things.

Bree: Well, actually, here’s the thing. There are no common people. And I didn’t make this clear because I think it’s clear this time: this is everybody.

Aradia: : But like you’re.

Bree: You’re either a Blood or a Tier. There’s nobody else, Blood or Tier or slave.

Aradia: : Okay. I thought there was like a middle class, I guess

Bree: I mean, basically the slaves are the lowest class, and maybe like the Fourth, the Third Tiers are like the middle class.

Aradia: : Oh, okay. I hate this even more!

Bree: Yeah. So this is not something that you can escape or opt out of by not being part of their nobility. This is everybody. So everybody belongs to the system.

Ali: : They took eugenics and then also made it a caste system, essentially.

Aradia: : Yeah! Ew. Eww!

Bree: Nobody got to opt out of this. Nobody. Basically, Bloods are your Peers and like, you know, the First Tier is like upwardly mobile and then everybody else from there on, I mean, Fourth Tier is the biggest insult, because basically they pretend that anyone other than that doesn’t exist.

Aradia: : So quick question. Can they move up through Tiers, or they can’t? And, do Tiers like change? I’m not following.

Ali: : Through marriage, I think.

Aradia: : I guess that makes sense because this is eugenics. Of course it would be through marriage.

Ali: : Yeah.

Bree: So this is where the murder punch card comes in. In Collan’s version, we learned that Scraller moved from First Tier to Blood because he basically bought it. He bought it by, you know, doing all the murders, getting all the money, making the First Councillor happy. And then this section we find out later that Glenin’s father, Auvry Feiran, also gets it.

Auvry Feiran is First Tier. And later on in this chapter, we will have a moment where he gets elevated to the Blood. But this time everybody’s like, but he actually deserves it. So, you know, there must have been a mistake back then in the fifth generation.

Ali: : So it sounds like there were like three options. There’s like you either buy it. You ascend to it by doing something really awesome, and they’re like, obviously we made a mistake because those deeds are only Blood worthy. Or you could for a wild amount of money, basically buy these sons or younger daughters of someone of the Blood to marry your children so that you’re –

Bree: Only the younger daughters! Because the sons don’t get to pass their names on.

Aradia: : And not the first daughters, because the first daughters are –

Bree: So they can sell their sons just for the contacts and stuff. But if you want your children to be Blood, you have to get a Blood daughter. Because the men, because of the way that this world is set up, the men leave their families to join their wives and they don’t get to pass their name along.

Ali: : God, could you imagine a world in which an entire gender has to give up their names for another gender? I can’t imagine.

Bree: Leave the family and just be passed like property to a new one? Wild!

Ali: : Can’t imagine. I know.

Aradia: : Traded for some camels.

Ali: : You know.

Aradia: : Traded for some bolts of silk. That sounds awful. I really hope that no one ever has to deal with that.

Ali: : I hope there’s no, like, remnants of that ever anywhere either.

Bree: So, yeah, so a little bit of a role reversal there, but that is the basis of the society and Glenin, our young – I believe she’s like seven or eight or something at this point, so young – she ventures that that doesn’t sound very fair.

Aradia: : Because children understand things.

Ali: : It’s one of those things I feel like kids get the fundamentals of morAli: ty, you know, fair, unfair. So they have kind of like, before you pack on a bunch of societal bullshit, they can kind of see through and cut through some of the crap and kind of go, This doesn’t make sense actually.

And you kind of go, Yeah, it doesn’t, does it? And hopefully we don’t beat that out of you as you grow up.

Bree: Well, so she says it doesn’t sound fair and he’s like, yeah, I mean, you know, it doesn’t, but they made some hard choices. And it worked, look! Nobody has anything except for a little bit of squinty shortsightedness now. So we did the right thing.

Aradia: : You can get rid of disability with harsh enough reproductive control. Fascism works!

Bree: Yeeeees! Not. So, I mean, how are you feeling about Auvry Feiran right now?

Aradia: : Huh. Hmm. Yeah, I started out with like he’s the underdog, you know, because he’s from the oppressed class and like, he’s, you know, the father of our protagonist. And clearly he’s the underdog doing cool shit. And then it’s like, Oh, no, he’s the Butcher of this city. He’s absolutely driving false flag attacks on his own people so that he can, what, measure his dick with the highest of them. Like I’m… yeah. At the beginning of the chapter I was very ready to root for him and by the time I’d managed to make sense at the end of the chapter, I was like, You suck.

Bree: So let’s unpack the underdog thing. He comes in, and what we know about him is that he’s First Tier, and he managed to get THE First Daughter of THE fanciest Blood that ever Blooded, Maichen Ambrai, to fall in love with him. This big forbidden romance. Mother in law was not happy. Mother in law has not had her Blood mixed with one of the lower classes in, and I believe she straight out says, 38 generations.

Aradia: : Like, okay, inbreeding. This is good.

Bree: Yeah. Yeah.

Ali: : I’m pretty sure that inbreeding is actually the cause of a lot of genetic issues. I’m just saying, we have tried a lack of genetic diversity before. And I think it’s called Habsburg jaw and hemophilia. Am I right?

Aradia: : I watched a YouTube video about that, like yesterday. It’s super true.

Bree: Grandma, Meemaw? Meemaw Ambrai doesn’t care about that. Meemaw Ambrai cares about if your name is the right name. His name was not, so he had a bit of a cranky mother in law who did not support this passionate, forbidden love.

Aradia: : Much like, we love a love match at the very highest levels of government. Like those are the best love matches that are so rare. It’s so good. Don’t mess with that.

Bree: Yeah, it really does start off. You want to root for the, you know, the forbidden romance between the princess and the, you know –

Ali: : the hard working mercantile class boy.

Bree: The hard working Mage.

Aradia: : Slightly less rich boy.

Bree: Yeah. So then he kidnaps one of his daughters and runs off to join Murder Punch Card First Councillor. And yes, as you mentioned, bad things start to happen. I’m wondering which one we should go next. That was that basically the whole first part of this section is talking about laying the groundwork for fantasy kids, and it’s explaining what this world is, how unfair it is.

And then this is the first place I think we get the first mention of the Great Loom.

Ali: : Yeah.

Bree: And I had actually forgotten until I started rereading this, how much the loom and the weavers and the weaving and the patterns and everything had some very Wheel of Time crossover things.

Ali: : Well, I noted the Taint as well. Yes. I was like, Aha, we’ve got a taint. We love a taint in fantasy. We love a fleshy, fun bridge in fantasy, you know?

Aradia: : (can’t stop laughing)

Ali: : So you know, I get it, but it sounds like it’s kind of a Mage thing. Like their job is to kind of oversee the Loom in some way.

Bree: It does sort of start to feel a little less, Oh, the pattern pats as the pattern pats, a little less the overall fate of it all. And a little more, Humans are going to decide what the pattern should be. And if you are a recalcitrant thread, we might snip you.

Ali: : If that’s sinister. I did not like this Tutor guy.

Bree: The Tutor guy? Yeah. So what happens at the start of chapter two? We get Bree’s favorite topic: periods in fantasy!

Aradia: : (laughs) Yes.

Ali: : You know what it reminded me of: when I was going through sex ed as a kid. We had to watch a video about periods, of course, because, you know, they had to make it as impersonal as possible. So they put up a video. The girls are in one room and the boys are in another room, because binaries, and we were watching this and one girl was like, and it was a kid: I don’t want people to be ashamed of their periods. Like when I get mine, I want to throw a party. And at the end it was like catching up with all the girls, like, how are they doing today? And it was like with this one girl. And she got her party.

Bree: Awww. Oh yes, this is a world where when you get your period, they throw you a party. Your wise blood!

Ali: : Because you know what? If we were the dominant gender, that’s what would happen.

Aradia: : I can assure you that that’s extremely true, because I was raised in a very, very, veeeery, very feminist, nineties, pagan, wicca, we love our Moon Blood and we howl at the moon, sky clad with our Yucca branch. I mean, it was just, I was raised by pagans, I mean PAGANS. And I absolutely was encouraged to throw a fucking party. Absolutely. And like, I sent out a stupid fucking email to all of my female family members, letting them know, like, yes, if we are the dominant gender, we will absolutely force our children to do these cringe ass things. Guaranteed, I lived through it. That will happen.

Ali: : Cringe ass things! (laughs)

Aradia: : It’s the nature of being that age. Everything you do is cringe. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, I’m just saying it’s cringe.

Bree: Well, one of her friends gets a party with 230 guests where they give everybody a custom leather purse stamped with their sigil and with gold in it. So, like, they’re not skimping on the My baby got her first period party.

Aradia: : She can breed, boys! like I don’t like that part.

Ali: : Instead of passing out pads, they are passing out iPads.

Bree: Basically. Basically. (laughs) Good one! So you know, I don’t think that there’s like even huge She can breed vibes, because it’s all about being wise.

Aradia: : That’s true.

Bree: You have achieved adulthood, you are wise now.

Aradia: : Your gonads have dropped, you now have a brain.

Bree: Because there’s this thing where they don’t think that girls this young should be getting married anyway, because they have a whole very different, you know, to get your education. And then you can worry about what sweet young boy you will, you know –

Aradia: : Yeah. No, you’re right. I’m bringing too much of my bias in. Yeah, but I’m just like, Why are you making a big deal out of it? It’s because she’s… pluckable now? But no, you’re right. The world building is putting up fences against that.

Ali: : I kind of thought of it as like, a period Bat Mitzvah.

Bree: Yeah, it was. You’re an adult now. You’ve had your, your sort of thing.

Ali: : Like, it definitively says that you’re, you know, in a new phase of life, with all that it comes with. Right. And so pass out some iPads and have a dope party with your 13 year old friends or however old you are. You know, it’s around the right time!

Bree: And yeah, this is even part of their religion, like their religion says, the week you’re born in, that Saint looks after you, and the week you get your first period, that Saint also looks after you.

Aradia: : I thought that was kinda cool.

Bree: So like, it’s a whole, you got to get your period during the right week.

Ali: : And also the Saint you’re named after, right? So three, for women three and for men it is two?

Bree: Yes

Ali: : And then again with the Saints. The Saints and the looms.

Bree: Mm.

Ali: : I’m interested in the Saints still, I still feel like they’re relevant.

Bree: Glenin was born during the Weaver’s Moon and got her period during the Weavers Moon.

Ali: : And then she becomes Weaver-y.

Bree: She was like, kind of into that because she’s like, Yay!

Aradia: : Right? Right. She’s like, I can weave. She’s got a double rising in Weaver.

Aradia: : It feels like astrology.

Ali: : It totally does. It’s like two of her big three. She’s a weaver sun, and a weaver rising!

Aradia: : Exactly!

Bree: So this is one of those chapters that sort of is confusing, because it jumps around in time. It starts with her puberty and her, like, getting her magic. But then it goes back in time and it shows us what happened. Basically, when Daddy underdog, basically through a lot of political maneuvering, was sent to destroy her home.

Ali: : This is when I started to not like him.

Aradia: : Yeah, because like, I get being pushed out of your position and divorcing your wife and taking your kid. I don’t get waging war. I was with him having his space and having his boundaries, up until he waged a war on that home. Like, I don’t understand.

Ali: : So it be like, if Parent Trap. They did Parent Trap, but they didn’t get back together. And instead the hot wine dad set her house on fire.

Bree: Basically. And killed all of her family.

Ali: : All of her family. And I’m like, It just seems unnecessary.

Bree: So this whole thing is a political catastrophe. And this is the chapter where they throw 8000 names at you, and which is why I made you guys, and all of our listeners, a family tree.

Aradia: : It’s color coded. It’s so helpful!

Bree: And it is color coded because, basically the problem is, Ambrai usually has a person called their chancellor, which is a position held by a man in the family. And it’s like, you know, a very important and influential position. And when her brother, Meemaw Ambrai’s brother died, who held the position before, there was no one to fill it because her daughter’s husband wasn’t eligible, because Mages don’t hold position in government.

Ali: : Right.

Bree: And that is the crux. He never became a full Mage, but he was trained as a Mage. And there’s a whole thing where Mages are not supposed to be subverted by the government or take positions in government. It’s a very separation of magic and state sort of situation.

Ali: : Right. And their whole thing was, okay, so her brother dies and then her daughter’s husband is ineligible. And then they looked at her cousin’s son or something like that, right?

Bree: Yeah. Her cousin… Well, okay, so they look everywhere. So, her brother, Meemaw’s brother, had married another person whose name we might recognize. Her name was Gorynna Desse. And the Magic Man who popped up to save Collin was named Gorynal Desse. Right. So there’s a connection right there. So they looked at Meemaw’s nephew, Gerrin Desse. But he was too young and he had two young daughters and so he could not take the position. And so then they were like, Well, what about-

Ali: : One more thing? Because I liked this. She looked at her own husband. It was like, he’s not politically inclined, so he’s out.

Aradia: : Yeah, he’s a perfect house husband. Let’s not worry his pretty little head.

Bree: He would be too stressed out and he would not be happy. Also, did you notice his last name? His name was Gerrin Ostin. And we did meet Lilen Ostin, who was the nice young lady with the kitchen. That Collan was briefly brought to before he escaped them.

Ali: : Yeah.

Aradia: : You said she’s like that. Oh, yeah. Ostin is like the other big family.

Bree: Yeah, the Ostin was the other big family in the Waste that Scraller was constantly trying to take out.

Ali: : Right?

Bree: So all of these people are intermarried, which may be a problem genetically.

Ali: : Again with the Habsburg Jaw and the hemophilia, am I right?

Aradia: : Yes.

Bree: But we have definitely seen some of these names before. And if you look at the family tree, Alvassy is the other big name of Ambrai. So the Ambrais and the Alvassys are basically the two Blood names who live in the city. And if you go all the way back, they talked about Tolinar Alvassy possibly being the one who would take this job, which is basically her nephew’s uncle, her niece’s uncle. He’s married to a woman whose last name is Renne and his son is Orlin Renne, who we also met in the last chapter. He was Sarra’s adopted dad, right?

Ali: : Orlin Renne.

Bree: Orlin Renne. So this is a crazy family tree where many of the names that pop up in the section are names that were in the previous chapter. Gorynel Desse was in the previous chapter. Orlin Renne, Lilen Ostin. So a lot of these people are definitely part of this bigger political world that Collan did not want to hear shit about. So when they’re talking about Auvry Feiran divorcing his wife and Collan doesn’t give a shit: These people give a direct shit, because these are their relatives.

Ali: : Yeah, and apparently when that divorce happens, sometimes the husband will just set the wife’s house on fire and kill all of her family.

Bree: Kill his mother in law. Kill everybody. Yeah.

0:32:30 Ad break music

So that’s what he does. Basically, a fight breaks out, about whether or not Mages should be in government with the First Councillor saying, let’s pass a new law saying they can be. And the leader of the Mages who is called the Captal, that’s the name of the person who is in charge of Mage Guardians. She’s like, Fuck you, fuck no, fuck all y’all. I will fuck you up if you try to make us be involved in the government.

Ali: : Then they took her prisoner right, and said she was treasonous.

Bree: And then basically she gets arrested for interfering with the government by going and yelling at them. Which is a little ironic.

Ali: : I mean. Kinda rude.

Bree: So this is the backdrop of this whole thing. There’s civil unrest. People are upset and the Mage Guardians are headquartered at Ambrai, too. So there’s like this whole pressure cooker there. And when they shut down the ports, it upsets trade. And so everybody’s like, okay, well, now Ambrai is fucking all of us up, so go do something about it. And they send Auvry Feiran to burn the place down.

Ali: : Well, I feel like it would fuck up trade more. Am I right?.

Bree: I kind of thought so too. But like, you know, it was an excuse. That was all they ever wanted.

Ali: : I just feel like they would fuck up trade more because, like, you’re burning all the ports. But I guess that there’s no one around to trade to. That’s a way to solve a trade problem.

Aradia: : Well, and then you make jobs because now you have to rebuild the ports, so.

Bree: You got to rebuild everything. Well, they killed a lot of the people there. I believe that they said that there were 60,000 people in this city and 10,000 survived.

Ali: : Jesus Christ!

Bree: It was a frickin – he didn’t just kill his wife. It’s like he killed his wife’s family. And then like everybody in the county.

Ali: : It’s like, I don’t know, it feels like it’d be hard to kill that many people.

Aradia: : Well, magic, apparently.

Ali: : Well, I guess so!

Bree: He took an army and just against the, you know.

Ali: : They set up a ward where you forget to live. Apparently.

Aradia: : (laughs) That could do it.

Bree: So, yeah, that is how he gets the name the Butcher.

Ali: : Well, yeah. When you kill 50,000 people, I think you earn that title.

Aradia: : Yeah. Your Murder Punch Card is on a whole other tier at that point.

Bree: And. And because of that, that’s how he becomes Blood.

Ali: : Murder Punch Card!

Aradia: : Mmhm. He’s platinum now.

Bree: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, they need to invent a level above Blood, because he definitely-

Ali: : Well, Blood is an appropriate name at this point.

Bree: Murder Punch Card his way to a whole new… So Yeah. So that’s what happens.

Aradia: : And so this is all within a single kingdom, empire, or is it between empires?

Bree: So basically this world as we know it right now is called Lenfell. And these are, like I would say, to consider them like city states. So they call them Shirs, I believe, which I think is kind of like Shire.

Aradia: : Sure, okay.

Bree: So they’re areas that have capitals, kind of like counties or little countries, but they’re all part of – actually it’s probably kind of like the United States. You know, you’ve got your main federal governing body at the capital, but then you’ve got all these different outlying things which are run, with cities and then smaller cities and country. So the Waste is like one political unit and it has a couple cities in it.

Aradia: : Right. And like Ambrai is the central one. Right?

Bree: Ambrai is the capital city of Ambraishir, which is like the country. So it’s like the name of both the city and the territory.

Ali: : Okay.

Aradia: : Okay. And so this guy was overthrowing the government of that thing. But it’s internal.

Bree: Yeah. He basically eradicated all of the people of the Blood who lived there. So there’s like nobody left basically to inherit it except for his daughter.

Ali: : Well, all the kiddos vanished. Right. So Sarra vanished and then also the 22 year old who they thought of for the government position, who is raising two young kids. His daughters also vanished.

Bree: Yes. His wife and Sarra vanished. And the two cousins vanished.

Ali: : Wait. Is Collan? Is that why they burned down his mom’s house?

Bree: I don’t know. He could have been part of that. But we don’t know at this point.

Ali: : I’m just curious.

Bree: I mean, we do know that there was something with burning, and we know that a lot of things are being burned here.

Ali: : And he had an armband, that showed who his mother was. Right?

Bree: Yes. Which sounds fancy.

Ali: : It sounds fancy, which I thought initially was like Mage, but maybe it’s – do they have fancy armbands, is that a thing?

Bree: It’s not like a specific thing. But one thing they do have is colors. Ambrai’s colors are black and turquoise.

Ali: : Okay.

Bree: Feiran’s colors are gray and green. And that’s actually, I color coded this somewhat. So like the turquoise, the Ostins are orange. I don’t know what the Alvassys or the Rennes are. So I sort of just made that up.

Ali: : Okay. So if he was walking around with like an armband it said, I’m someone important’s kid, Right?

Aradia: : Right.

Bree: I mean, clearly Gorynel Desse knows who he is for some reason. So that’s what we know for sure.

Ali: : Because now I’m kind of feeling like maybe everyone’s from the same fucked up family.

Bree: It could be.

Ali: : It’s like I wanna know what connects all these people.

Aradia: : The lost scion, yeah.

Ali: : Because it feels like that’s going to be important.

Bree: Though, speaking of Collan. We did jump over something that happened right before everything got burned down.

Ali: : Oh, yeah.

Bree: Bard Falundir has come back.

Aradia: : Ooh, yeah. Or more accurately, this is. This is pre crippling.

Bree: Yes. We see him arrive at Ryka Court, which is the capital. Barefoot, bare headed, to sing a song, and everybody’s like, Ooh, yay! Exciting.

Ali: : They’re also, like, brazen! Because barefoot means you’re mourning, right? And he’s like, I’m mourning how crappy this ruler is, right?

Aradia: : Yeah, that was definitely my impression, too, I’m mourning what has become of my land or whatever.

Bree: The song is called Garden of the Long Sun and it is about a beautiful garden with a creeping poison coming into it. So the garden is supposed to be Ambrai and the poison is supposed to be Murder Card First Councillor. She doesn’t let him finish it.

Ali: : I mean, he called her out like he knew it was going to go down.

Bree: Yeah. Glenin thinks that the final verse is going to lead to the Malerris. Which is the thing that we have started to kind of get some information about in this chapter, which is the other – there are two different types of Mage, two different types of magic user. Basically two traditions. And we’ve mostly talked about the Mage Guardians, but the Weaver people, the Malerris, are the ones who believe in the Great Loom and the Weaver. And so Glenin thinks that they are behind all of this stuff going on at court and the destruction of the Mage Guardians and that the Bard is about to out them. And I guess the First Councillor does too, because she cuts out his tongue and cuts his hands. And that’s the end of that.

Ali: : Yeah. And the dad knew what was going to happen and he carried his kid away, because he was like, Naaah, you don’t need to see that.

Bree: Yeah. I mean, so like, what, some D-plus parenting.

Ali: : I mean. Yeah, it feels like a low bar, but he did hurdle over it.

Bree: Yeah, he’s still friends with the lady who’s about to do the thing.

Ali: : Yeah, she seems like a real winner. If she can’t take a little criticism. That was correct. criticism, by the way.

Aradia: : Well, I mean, is it criticism or is it exposing your nefarious plot to overthrow the government? You know, that was kind of the impression I got.

Ali: : That’s true. That’s true. So, yeah, we got to see what happened. And then it seems like, what’s his name, the old man, Gor-

Bree: Gorynel Desse.

Ali: : That Gorynal Desse shows up and he’s like, You need to help me, guy, who was a sophomore Mage, basically.

Bree: Yes. They call them prentices, which is like, you know, apprentice without the a.

Ali: : Yeah, he was a prentice, but for some reason he’s the only one that can help because he’s like he’s bleeding to death. So I’m assuming he went to go help stop him from dying. But why they would go to a prentice and not somebody who’s got a little more, you know, who’s got a full diploma?

Aradia: : I think it is, when you go to the vet because you can’t go to the doctors. You just go to the vet instead, you’re like, animals are all the same, right? It’s fine.

Ali: : Inadvisable!

Aradia: : I’ve seen several movies with that.

Bree: I will say I assumed that they were not there for the heAli: ng, but to the jail springing. Like, you know, I’m assuming that after they did the horrible stuff to the Bard, it’s not like they just let him go. He was probably somewhere awaiting further torments.

Ali: : Oh, so he was like, come stop them from doing more shit. Yeah. Okay.

Bree: Like you owe me one. You asshole.

Ali: : There’s a very You owe me one quAli: ty to this discussion as well.

Aradia: : Yeah. Yeah.

Ali: : I’m curious why he never went to full Mage.

Aradia: : Yeah.

Ali: : I feel like there’s a story there.

Bree: Definitely a question. And it doesn’t feel very answered in this chapter either.

Ali: : I feel like someone else is going to answer that question for us. I did get a peek at who the next chapter is about. I won’t say, in case people don’t want to be spoiled, but I feel like answers are coming.

Aradia: : I mean, they have to be.

Ali: : I just feel like that’d be the first question I’d ask my dad to be like, Why did you never become a full Mage? What’s going on there? What’s the story?

Aradia: : Right? Right? Because he’s clearly accomplished and good with people and good with doing things and ambitious and yeah, that’s like, why? Why are you not burning down the Mages for not letting you, you know, finish your degree?

Bree: Well, to be fair, he does, because they are also at Ambrai, so. (laughs)

Aradia: : Oh, so maybe that’s why.

Bree: The Mages, also the Healers, also the scholars, also the musicians…

Ali: : His whole thing, it’s like if he doesn’t get what he wants, he goes for scorched earth, he will salt the earth where you live.

Bree: Yeah, he murders all the things.

Ali: : Like if he had one letter from the HOA he would burn that suburb to the ground.

Bree: Yeah, yeah. Not, not a man of delicate tempers here.

Ali: : Oh, yeah, he’s – (laughs)

Bree: Maybe, maybe overreacting a tiny bit?

Ali: : A tiny bit.

Aradia: : It seems like!

Ali: : He murdered 50,000 people over it.

Bree: I wonder if there is some connection.

Aradia: : But he loves his daughter, he’s a good guy. He loves his daughter so much. (laughs)

Ali: : No! He killed 50,000 people.

Bree: Do we think there’s maybe a connection between his temperament and becoming a Mage?

Ali: : Ooh, good theory. Possibly!

Aradia: : Magic makes people cranky? I could see it.

Ali: : Well, they were like, Maybe we don’t want this guy who seems to want to salt the earth whenever he gets, you know, the wrong DoorDash. Like, maybe we don’t give him endless power. Maybe we don’t let him have the power to murder people quicker and more efficiently.

Aradia: : Yeah, though it does seem like this is supporting the We don’t want Mages in government stance. That is the crux of all this political maneuvering and shenanigans, of just being like, Mages can’t be in government and government can’t get in the Mage’s business because things will get out of hand. This guy seems to be making a good case argument for why that is the case.

Ali: : He’s making an excellent argument. Well, because that, I bumped on the Didn’t become a full Mage thing also, because it seems like this is one of the things that his mother in law held against him was that he was not a full Mage. So she’s like, you’re not even useful. Like, I can’t put you here.

Bree: Yeah, he’s too much of a Mage to be useful as not a Mage, and not enough of a Mage to be useful as a Mage.

Aradia: : Ugh.

Ali: : So she’s just like, What good the fuck are you? Yeah. And you’re tainting my blood on top of that.

Aradia: : And the taint isn’t even coming with a good reward.

Ali: : But I’m also like, maybe she also just got really shit vibes from this guy because I kind of do. I don’t get great vibes from her either, but you know.

Bree: A lot of shit vibes from a lot of people.

Ali: : Very shitty vibes. Yeah, I didn’t like a lot of people in this chapter. Glenin seems okay.

Bree: Speaking of shit vibes, let’s go back to the tutor who’s arrived.

Ali: : Okay, red flags everywhere. Maybe it’s just because I just watched Six The Musical, which, by the way, was amazing, but, Catherine Howard with that tutor in the beginning? Because I was like, She was how old? Wasn’t she like 13 years old or something like that? I was like, red flags, red flags everywhere, Red flags waving in the breeze everywhere.

Bree: Yeah, She was 14 at the most.

Ali: : Red flags. Red flags. Why? And then she’s like, starting to feel things for this tutor. And clearly he shares them, which I’m like, No, sir. You’re a grown ass dude, No.

Bree: Yeah. So he is an emissary of the Lords of Malerris. I’m going to say mAli: ce because I do not know how to pronounce it.

Ali: : Even in this matriarchy, men are on some shit. Like what are the –

Aradia: : (laughs)

Bree: It is interesting, right? Like and even Glenin, it is like, why is it called the Lords? Why isn’t it called the Lady’s?

Ali: : Yeah, because I’m a little- like there are a couple of things where I’m like, Well, so this isn’t a true matriarchy, because.

Aradia: : I had that thought as well.

Ali: : And I couldn’t help but notice that there have been two instances now in the past few chapters where it’s been like, Well, normally women are the older one in the relationship, but twice now that hasn’t been the case.

Bree: Yeah, and I think that’s a really good point, that like sometimes even when she’s writing one thing, when it comes time for the important people to do it, they all of a sudden have exceptions. Yeah. And I think that’s a really good point. It’s like one of those things where you’re talking the right talk and on the surface, but it’s really hard to break out from this cultural thing. Well, I want people to find this deathly romantic and it’s only deathly romantic if the man is older.

Ali: : Yeah.

Bree: You know.

Ali: : Yeah, if I hired my 14 year old daughter a tutor, they would be sitting in the living room and I’d be fluffing pillows, I’d be coming in and out, I’d be serving them snacks, I’d be checking it, I’d be dusting lamps that have never been dusted before. Where is the father? Where is he?

Bree: Oh, and then the first thing is the tutor’s like, We’re going to have secrets that you can’t tell your father. Right. Okay.

Aradia: : Red flags!

Ali: : If a man who is older than you – No adult, and this is what I tell all children ever. I’m like, No adult has secrets with a child. That’s a red flag, fucking always. No adult wants you to keep their secret. That’s a red flag. Always, period. My mom would always say, if anyone ever tells you not to tell me something, that is absolutely the time you need to tell me.

Aradia: : It’s good advice.

Ali: : It is excellent advice. Excellent advice!

Bree: So red flags, red flags for Golonet Doriaz.

Aradia: : Yeah, RIP.

Ali: : I was very okay when he died, because he gave me creep vibes. He gave me sex pest vibes. I was not into him.

Bree: And so he asks her what she wants to do with her life, and she decides she wants to be the government.

Aradia: : (Laughs) What an ambition. You know what I want to do? I want to be the spider at the center of the web in charge of literally everything.

Ali: : Here’s my thing. I’m like, You picked the worst job. Government is the worst job.

Bree: I’m going to read the quote because I think it’s pretty amazing:

The next morning before her first class, Glenin met Doriaz in the lovely oval library of the Feiran chambers and said, “I’ve decided that I want to be in government.” Not mentioning that she wanted to be the government. So, Daddy’s raising a little dictator.

Ali: : She and Daddy Warbucks have something in common, you know what I mean?

Aradia: : Yeah. And then he’s like, Well, how are you going to keep from getting assassinated? She’s like, No big deal. I’ll just make it so that my death is too inconvenient for everybody. It’s like, What? What is this ‘just’?

Ali: : No. That’s what they want. They want the destabilization. They want it to be inconvenient, because the destabilization is where overturns can happen. You failed the first principle!

Aradia: : Exhausting.

Bree: How do we feel about Glenin, now that she’s decided to become the government.

Ali: : She’s 14 at this point. So I’m like, you know, perhaps she will grow out of her weird fascist dictator ideologies, but it doesn’t bode well. That she’s already like, I just won’t get assassinated.

Aradia: : Yeah, I… yeah.

Ali: : There are red flags about her for sure.

Bree: The next chapter, the next section of this is just, you know, her asking, What about the poor people and sick people and criminals? And those are the Fourth Tier who everyone despises, and Golonet of the Red Flags is like, We will give everyone her own place, her appropriate place, and there will be no poor. The sick will be cared for. Criminals will be excised as the broken threads they are, for they endanger the strength of the whole.

Aradia: : No! I. Do. Not. Like. This!

Bree: And then he’s like, Tiers will be abolished! And everyone will be equal with her own place in the design.

Aradia: : Each one is going to fit into the machine according to what the machine says it needs from them. Ugh!

Bree: Oh yeah, the Great Loom! Fascism.

Aradia: : So fascism.

Ali: : Yeah. So we got fascist wizards.

Bree: Yeah.

Ali: : Is what we got going on. I feel like, hmm. There’s no room for nuance in this plan.

Aradia: : (laughs desperately)

Bree: No it’s interesting, because I think about how we, you know, the three of us have spent so much time in Wheel of Time fandom talking about the pattern as this like mystical destiny, and Ta’veren specifically as the people who weave themselves through it chaotically, and change it. And this is a vision of a pattern that people choose to enforce on the rest of people, in a very fascist, you know, ideology and they will cut you if you try to weave yourself in any order out of place. You know.

Ali: : It’s giving you Gen-X, but new branding. Do you know what I mean?

Bree: Yeah. It’s like, Oh, we will love everybody equally after we kill all the people we don’t love.

Ali: : So equal is always a red flag to me. I’m like, we’re going for equitable, right?

Bree: Yeah.

Ali: : Equal. You know, some people need a step stool to get to the pasta on the top shelf, and some people don’t. So like including that step stool, like the other person doesn’t have the step stool. So it’s not equal, but it is equitable. We’re making sure that people are rising to the same level. But like that doesn’t necessarily mean we give everyone a step stool. That only goes to the people who need it for the pasta. But so, can you tell that Gus puts all the things on the top shelf in my house?

Aradia: and Bree: (laugh)

Ali: : So, I’m always like if we’re going to treat everyone the same, so really, you’re not having an equal and just society. You’re actually having a like, scary, We’re going to pound everyone into the shape that we want them to be, which very much gives Wrinkle in Time where all the kids are bouncing the ball.

Bree: Yeah!

Ali: : And then like one kid bounces the ball funky and like yeah, he plays with it and then they basically call that kid into the back of the van. Like that is what this plan is giving me. And then he gets really creepy about who she’s going to marry.

Bree: Oh, yeah. And have babies with.

Aradia: : Oh, God.

Bree: She does not get to choose who she’s going to have babies with.

Ali: : And again, I’m like, Where’s the dad dusting the same lamp over and over again? Where is he?

Aradia: : He’s off plotting for a better match, I guess, because he’s into this for the ambition. Ugh. And the whole thing about criminals be excised? Like, again, we’re tying the moral value of a human being to something that is maybe outside of their control. Because if, say, being a vagrant is a criminal act and criminals need to be excised, then now everyone who doesn’t have a home is just going to be, what, executed? For vagrancy? This is not good!

Bree: Yeah, you could define criminal however you want.

Aradia: : Excising criminAli: ty is not a good guy move.

Bree: No.

Ali: : No. Because oftentimes the people who are doing the criminal things, it’s for desperation or for, there’s like a billion reasons.

Aradia: : Yeah. Crimes of survival.

Ali: : Why you involve yourself in criminal activity. You know. Yeah. Where does it end? Are we killing jaywalkers now?

Bree: Well, what if they make it illegal to not do the job they told you they want you to do?

Aradia: : Mm, yeah. Yeah, yeah. I mean, you’re not being very equal if you’re trying to dictate your own destiny to be equal to all the other factory workers and get back in line. Like, ew. Ew! No, not rooting for these people.

Ali: : Well, and who gets to decide. Who gets to decide? That’s not very equal. Whoever gets to decide has the power, obviously, right?

Bree: Well, that is what Glenin – I mean, Glenin’s not worried. She’s been told she’s got her place at the Loom.The thread masters. That’s what they call them.

Aradia: . Oh, right.

Ali: : But she’s still going to be told who to marry. It felt like like the men were trying to take over. That’s what it felt like to me.

Aradia: : Well, it’s eugenics again.

Bree: There is a little bit of it in there. The other thing where you, um, you don’t get to be called Lady until you’ve popped out a baby in the thing.

Ali: : And I’m like, That’s some bullshit. So then when do you get to be called a Lord? At what point?

Bree: I am imagining they don’t have the same thing, because.

Ali: : When you shoot a watermelon out of your ass? Like, at what point?

Bree: Because they’re making new babies and I think this is an interesting problem. Once you start to – and it sort of ties like the whole in real life, you know, white women in white supremacy like: Once you’ve tied into the idea that you have to make more of your people, I don’t care how much they tell you you’re equal. You’re probably not! Because they need you for one thing, and they need you to do it.

Ali: : Glenin is giving white feminism to me.

Aradia: : Big time, rich white feministm.

Ali: : Like rich white feminism. She’s giving like. She’s giving Serena Joy to me. In the Handmaid’s Tale.

Aradia: : Yes! Yeah.

Ali: : So, yeah, she’s like, Oh, well, I won’t be oppressed. So it’s not a problem. And then Serena Joy eventually gets, like, slapped in the face by reAli: ty, where it’s like, No, they meant all women, Serena Joy. They meant all of them. You’re all going to be oppressed. I don’t know why you thought for some reason that you were the exception to that rule, but yeah, I feel like she’s thinking like, Well, I’ll be the government, so it won’t affect me. And I’m like, Well, yeah, if they’re telling you you’re valuable based on popping out a kid, What if you’re infertile?

Aradia: : Not a real woman., apparently.

Bree: I mean, sounds like a snag in the loom to me.

Aradia: : It probably means you’re defective and someone counted the generations wrong or whatever.

Bree: I don’t think that’s a flaw in her vision of matriarchy. I think that that’s actually a reAli: stic reflection of the fact that any time you’re trying to enforce this sort of power over somebody else, there’s got to be flaws and cracks and ways that it doesn’t work. But I think that the baby thing is definitely the one where, in this one instance, she has to have a baby before she’s valued as much by the Lords of Malerry. So I don’t know if that is supposed to indicate to us that we should like them less?

Ali: : And what is the health care situation here?

Bree: So it’s magical health care.

Ali: : Do we know about germs? Are we washing our hands before we’re sticking our fingers places, like what? What is the health care situation? Are we? I have so many questions because, you know, in a time period that’s fantasy, like if we’re mapping it on to real stuff, I mean, I know they’ve got healers, but now we’ve killed all those, so or a bunch of those. So I don’t know. I feel not good.

Bree: Oh, she’s 13 when this starts.

Ali: : That’s what I thought!

Bree: Yeah. I just switched to the next page and it says four years later. So yeah, four years of him teaching her this happy fascist magic.

Ali: : And dad is not in there shampooing the rugs? I just, ugh.

Aradia: : No, he’s okay with his daughter having secrets with the tutor. He said it’s okay. Daddy gave his permission. It’s so messed up!

Ali: : We’re never okay.

Bree: Okay. Well, I don’t know what’s beneath f minus parenting, but we definitely. He peaked! He peaked when he took her away from the maiming.

Ali: : After he died, she seemed to really like cool with the fact that she was kind of into him. He was like, I know you really loved him. I’m really sorry. And I’m like, Sir, she’s a minor, sir. She’s like, practically prepubescent. What is going on?

Aradia: : Yeah.

Bree: Let’s talk about how he dies.

Ali: : Yeah, because this was confusing for me. I didn’t understand why we were attacking them.

Aradia: : I think it was a false flag attack.

Bree: It was totally a false flag. It’s okay. Basically, now they have destroyed the Mage Guardians, so their goal is to now look as if they have destroyed themselves. But in reAli: ty, to go and disperse themselves out into the world so they can start, you know, doing their power moves with everybody thinking that they’re gone and not worrying about them and sort of quote unquote, forgetting about magic or whether you need it at all.

Ali: : So was this kind of a way to get magic people involved in things like government and politics and like, building up your world without having to make it obvious that they’re there?

Bree: I think that what we’re meant, because we’ve definitely had heavy immigration through all of this, that the First Councillor is involved with the Lords of Malerris in some way. That she is either their tool or that she knows about them or because, you know, like even Falundir’s song was supposed to trace her actions back to them. So I think that the idea is that what she’s being used to do is to get rid of all of the magic that isn’t these people, the people who might be able to stand against them when they start making loom rules, you know.

Ali: : So I’m thinking that then these, like exceptional children are somehow going to be involved in the resistance against whatever this is. I’m trying to find where the story’s starting, because right now we’re getting like the histories of everybody. So I’m like, okay, so how is this all going to kind of come together?

Bree: And I will promise you that the next section is going to definitely start ramping up story stuff. This was the most history we’re ever going to history.

Ali: : Yeah. And I think we needed it. But I’m starting to see like, okay, so it seems like they are Messiah people, whatever they’re called, the Mis, the Mi…

Bree: The Malerris.

Ali: : The Malerris.

Bree: We can call them the Weavers.

Ali: : So we got the Weavers versus the Mages, right? There’s like two different factions. I’m sorry, I’m explaining this back, because I’m trying to –

Bree: Do it!

Ali: : – figure out what the hell is happening. So these two are against each other, right? And the Weavers have Murder Punch Card Lady in their corner, correct? Okay, cool.

Bree: That’s what it seems like. Somehow either in their corner or, they are manipulating or controlling her somehow.

Ali: : So they somehow manipulate things where the Mages attack the Weavers. Is that alright?

Bree: So what they did is they had Auvry Feiran attack the Weavers. Or rather he commanded people to go attack them. But he was conspicuously not there, because like, you know, he is a Mage still, but because he was the one who commanded it. And then they planted some Mage bodies there. It made it look like the Mage Guardians were the ones who attacked them, the still surviving Mages. So it’s like, Oh, the Mages are fighting again!

Aradia: : Right, because. Because what’s his face? When he went over to the Murder Punch Card Lady and her Weaver conspiracy even though he’s a Mage. Yeah. And so that’s the whole like ooh! like, she even has a Mage on her side. So, like, that’s weird. So this is, this is a war between two magic systems using, like, the proxies of the not magic political people?

Ali: : But then if, if all the Weavers are gone, Right. Because they killed some of the Weavers that they left behind, but most of them are through ladders. Right? So they’re, like, still Ali: ve.

Bree: Yeah. They disappeared through magic. The ladders are the way that they trance, like, basically, like, they’re kind of like stationary gateways. They’re like, like a place that you can go.

Aradia: : Teleport.

Bree: Yeah. Or wormholes.

Ali: : So they go and it seems they left some people behind, okay see, we did kill a bunch of them. They put some bodies of the Mages there to frame the Mages?

Bree: Yes.

Ali: : So then the Mages… but the Mages are still around!

Bree: When Auvry burned down Ambrai, there were like 10,000 Mages and like 9000 of them were killed., and their leader. And the new leader is this ineffective, bumbling guy. And so, like the Mages are on their last legs basically. So this both makes them look like they attacked these people. And also this discredits the remaining Mages.

Aradia: : And the Weavers are doing fine. Or did they also get apparently wiped out in this?

Bree: They seem to have been wiped out, but they have just dispersed to start doing whatever political mayhem they want to do wherever they want.

Aradia: : So the magic people apparently fought with each other and both came away really bloodied for it and are now going to go hide in the masses and do machinations and come back in a generation or five and, like punch each other in the face extra hard?

Bree: Well, we don’t know what they’re going to do. And I guess it depends on what stories they can weave for the people.

Aradia: : Well, sure. But like, that’s apparently the plan is to like –

Bree: Yeah, the plot seems to be that the Weavers are going to go hide while the Mages fall into, like, further and further discredit and die, and they kill them off slowly. And then maybe some, you know, something will happen that makes people remember they need magic. And then only the Weavers will be around.

Ali: : And the Weavers will be like, Surprise!

Bree: Or maybe the Weavers will just be like, surprise. Nobody can stop us from taking over now.

Aradia: : I just feel like both sides are underestimating massively the other side, and this is not going to go according to plan. This just feels over – Like this is just way too confident.

Bree: Yeah. I think people are definitely moving with some unearned confidence here.

Ali: : So this is interesting. So we’ve got Collan, who’s definitely a Mage, chillin with the Mages. And we’ve got Glenin who’s chilling with the Weavers. So maybe they’re actually going to be against each other then, not working together. It’s not going to be like baby magic Power Rangers. It’s going to be like, No, we’re on opposite sides.

Bree: I will say, I told you that these are four protagonists. I did not necessarily say that they were heroes or villains.

Ali: : That’s what I’m saying. Maybe Glenin’s villain.

Bree: So we do not know who is what. I think that this is… You know, I will say this is a complex world, the same as, you know, Wheel of Time, where you can be, you know, complicated people.

Ali: : But Rawn is tricking us into liking her!

Bree: I mean, how do you feel about her at the end of this? What’s the last thing, she falls in love with her tutor. He dies and she’s sad.

Ali: : She’s way sadder about him than she – And the one room in that house.

Aradia: : Oh, my God.

Ali: : With her sister and cousins dying.

Aradia: : And her grandmother. Yeah, the whole building over family thing was like, Whoa! Cold.

Ali: : Yeah, I was a little like. So you’re more upset about the staircase than you are about your sister? Who played with you in that staircase?

Bree: Yes. He takes her to the titular Ruins of Ambrai in this, through a ladder after her tutor dies. And she sees that the Octagon Court is what it’s called, which is basically the palace where they actually lived, even though he, quote unquote, spared it for her, it still got pretty racked up. Like it’s burned and it’s messed up. And she’s way sadder about that than she is about the fact that 50,000 people and all of their relatives…

Aradia: : And who knows how much knowledge got lost, like, I mean, clearly some libraries went up in flames, like I’m, Mm. Hmm!

Ali: : Aradia: , You so would think of that.

(all laugh)

Bree: Yes. There was something called the Academy where people, like, train teachers and stuff, that was there. So, literally, libraries were burning.

Aradia: : Ruins of Alexandria-brai.

Ali: : Alexandria-brai!

(all laugh)

1:08:00 Ad break music

Ali: : Yeah, she’s a little – (sighs). Well, I was watching a clip of Big Brother Canada when they were telling them that COVID was now a international pandemic and that people were dying and all this stuff. And like, we’re telling them that. So and this one guy just goes, Are sports still happening? And there’s a part of me that was like, that is so clearly – and I think it was more the Waffle House test than anything else – Like, yeah, if sports are not happening then it must be really bad. You know, if the Waffle Houses are closed, you know it’s a really bad thing. But at the same time it was like, My dude. Priorities! And that’s kind of how it feels like. She’s walking around. She’s like, Oh no, the blood splatter ruined my favorite walk, you know? Like, it just…

Bree: Yeah, she seems a little cold. And she seems very calculating from the beginning. I mean, the very first thing she does, is this girl who insulted her. She decides they’re going to be not friends, but like allies to rule all the other kids. Like, you know, even though she never likes her.

Ali: : They’re frenemies.

Bree: So she’s calculating from the beginning for sure.

Aradia: : And same with her choice of husband, right. Well, not her choice, but like the pairing that she’s kind of being pushed into. She’s like, Oh, yeah, you know, we kind of hate each other, but we can do the song and dance for the sake of our political ambitions and appeasing our families. I’m interested by her. Like, well, clearly he’s a good guy. A Paladin, lawful good kind of character, is less interesting than the morally complex. I’m not sure if you’re going to be the villain or not – character. And I love, you know, obviously getting into the head of a young woman is always really fun in medieval contexts, because there’s so many thoughts they have because they’re teenagers and women. And they’re just really fun characters. And I am really interested to see where she goes.

Bree: And so the answer she gets at the end is Murder Card, Punch Card First Councillor’s son.

Aradia: : Yeah, she’s climbing!

Bree: Who she’s not sure she’s going to like. But I mean, that is the ambitious move, right? That’s the move.

Ali: : I mean, he seems like a spoiled himbo.

Aradia: : Should be easy to manage!

Ali: : Yeah, she’s like, He’ll be easy to kind of, like, put away. And he’s pretty. He’s definitely pretty.

Bree: We’ll have pretty kids.

Ali: : We’ll have pretty kids, which will probably make them more valuable. But everything’s a calculation.

Aradia: : Yeah. As you can tell, she’s going to be a great heir to her grandmother, her tyrannical grandmother who drove her children’s marriage apart because she didn’t like how things were going. Like she, her granddaughter is going to be the same kind of powerhouse matriarch. It’s scary.

Ali: : Yeah. And I’m really ready to see her slay in both aspects of the word.

Aradia: : Oh, because she will be literally slaying, definitely.

Ali: : Literally, we will be like: Slay Queen!

Bree: Also, I thought it was interesting that she is just like, No love for me, thank you, I saw my parents.

Ali: : Well, I mean, how loving were they? You know what I mean?

Bree: Well, no, but that’s the thing. Her mom defied everything political in order to marry this inappropriate man out of this passionate love. And I think that her daughter honestly sees that as like, a bad choice.

Ali: : See, I think the dad was sag. I, I don’t think he –

Aradia: : He was a climber the whole time?

Ali: : I do think so!

Bree: That is a good – I mean, it seems really hard to go from I love you passionately to I’ve murdered everything having to do with you.

Ali: : And he didn’t seem to give an actual flying fuck about his other kid. Like, not exactly Daddy of the year. And I feel like people can think that they’re in love when it’s not really love. It’s like control or manipulation that they really actually enjoy.

Bree: Well, here’s an interesting point, Ali: . You know, I said they were in love, but that’s not what Glenin said. Glenin says: For a love of Aubrey Feiran, Maichen Ambrai had defied everyone and everything.

Aradia: : Playboy!

Bree: She is pretty precise. She didn’t say he loved her. She said her mother loved him!

Ali: : I don’t think he loved her.

Bree: So I think, Good call there!

Ali: : So we’re supposed to believe – Like, I feel like, if you’re a wealthy or powerful person, you always have to be a little suspicious of people who then are like, I’m in love with you, or I want to be, Oh, I’m your best friend. Because it’s like, Well, are they actually in love with you or are you a means to an end for them?

Aradia: : Right.

Ali: : And are they playing with your emotions. And that’s my feeling. I’m like, So we’re supposed to believe that this guy who didn’t make it past Prentice Mage for some reason, that might have been a really good reason ultimately. Who then turned around and completely fucked up the Mages for that. And he also turned around and completely fucked up his former home and everyone who was once his family. We’re supposed to believe that this guy who kind of came from nothing, but really was more like First Tier in a place where it’s really common to try to marry upwards or like, kill women in your family so that you can get more power or whatever. We’re supposed to believe that he just happened to fall in love with her.

Bree: And that’s definitely a good question.

Aradia: : And then he takes away just the one daughter and is like, So by the way, there’s going to be a genocidal campaign and then we get to rise up out of the ashes and take over the world. Sound good, sweetie? Okay, now go hang out with your way age inappropriate tutor.

Ali: : He had that ready to go, like day one. He had that plan already. Am I wrong? Like, they divorced. And he was like, Great, I’m going to fuck you up. And here’s my plan already.

Bree: Also, First Daughters are the most valuable thing. So, I mean, it’s not like he even took away the younger daughter. He took away her heir, which is like a very important thing.

Ali: : That’s a very big Fuck you.

Aradia: : He might not even have been doing it for love. He might not even love his daughter properly. He might have just taken her for the political, thumbing his nose at – Argh. Mm. Yeah. I don’t like him. She’s going to have daddy issues.

Ali: : Yeah. I’m like, we’re supposed to believe that this man loves his daughter more than anything in the fucking world, and he’s going to leave her alone with creepy tutor man?

Aradia: : Who gives her a box of magical occult knowledge that her dad didn’t know about? That she’s reading with absolutely no supervision whatsoever. This is not going to go badly!

Ali: : And then that creepy ass box?

Bree: Yes! So, one of the last gifts he sends is, he has someone bring her the book of Malerris, which is the huge ass book of all of their fascist indoctrination and spells and plans, I guess. So then she just reads it unsupervised until, you know.

Ali: : Here’s what I think happened. Here’s what I think happened.

Bree: She’s 21.

Ali: : I think this fucking guy, I think he made it to Prentice. And they were like, Actually, this guy might be a sociopath. Like, he might be actually not a person we want to give unlimited magic and resources to, so we’re going to kick him out. Also, have we seen him do any magic?

Bree: He he does the Ladder and –

Aradia: : The ladder and a few things.

Ali: : So he does –

Bree: He takes her through the Ladder so he can do that.

Ali: : But that’s only after –

Bree: And he summons someone, I think. Summons a servant, he wants to show her that you can feel it.

Ali: : Okay.

Bree: But she learned, she does say that his mind feels chaotic and like, you know, jumbled and…

Ali: : That he’s got this frenetic quAli: ty. So. So we’re supposed to believe that this guy. Okay, so he makes it to Prentice. This is what I feel like happened: they booed him for whatever reason. And they’re like, you know what? You seem to suck as a person and/or you aren’t powerful enough. So one of those things happened. So they booed him and then he comes up with this weird, freaky revenge plot, that is super calculated and long term and like, kind of weaves his way through, for lack of a better term. But yeah, it seems like everything he does is like a fuck you to somebody else.

Bree: It does seem like that.

Ali: : I don’t get to be a real Mage? Great. I’m going to completely destroy your entire order. Oh, I’m not going to be your husband anymore? Great. I’m going to kidnap your eldest, your most valuable kid, Right?

Bree: And burn your house down.

Ali: : And burn your house down, and kill everybody else.

Aradia: : And turn her against you, so that way she’ll take my name.

Ali: : And that’s my thing! I’m like – I mean, there are those stories about, like, dads in divorce or doms in divorce. That specific like keep the kids away from the other partner and turn them against them as, like a weird, manipulative power play. It’s not love. Like if you loved your kid, as long as their other parent isn’t a monster, you would want them to have a relationship with that parent.

Bree: Yeah.

Aradia: : Right.

Ali: : It’s not love that makes you do that, it’s you like hurting the other person. Probably what would have been best for her, if he loved her, would still have her stay.

Bree: Yeah, well, I mean, maybe not in Ambrai, because he’s going to burn it down! (laughs)

Aradia: : Yeaaah, there’s that.

Bree: He could have also not burned down everything she ever knew and loved,

Ali: : If he knew that he was going to do that – he knew he was going to do that, and that’s why he took her. Because otherwise it would be better, if he actually loved her, for her to stay there.

Bree: Yeah.

Ali: : And claim her birthright and all this stuff. Not live in some place where, like, she’s made fun of by all the other kids because she has her dad’s last name. That’s not a better life for her. So I think that’s bullshit.

Bree: It’s something sus!

Ali: : It’s suspicious to me. I don’t think that he’s – I’m like, Be serious, sir. You’re the most unserious person. So, Aradia: , are you with me on this? I think there’s something sus about this.

Aradia: : Yeah. No, I totally don’t trust this guy. I don’t trust his daughter. I don’t trust his motives. And you’ve got me thoroughly convinced to not trust his marriage at all from the get go.

Ali: : I don’t think it’s real!

Bree: You make compelling –

Aradia: : I’m very, very compelled at this point to completely cosign all of that.

Ali: : I think he’s a calculated fuck who did everything because he wanted to get ahead. I was like, when those things didn’t work, he was like, Great, Imma salt the earth that you all stand on.

Aradia: : And you know what else supports this? This part where he was fine with the tutor! He’s like, Oh, look, a climber who just wants to get close to some rich and powerful woman, and use her to get to wherever. He’s like, I recognize that. I can use that. It’s fine. It’s totally fine.

Ali: : It’s like a weird coincidence that the three daughters – that his other daughter vanished, not was killed, but we know that she’s Ali: ve with somebody. And it seems weird that the mom vanished, rather than be killed. And it seems weird that the two little girls vanished, rather than be killed. We don’t know what happened to them, but –

Bree: The two cousins?

Ali: : But those are people who, ostensibly were people who could inherit Ambrai.

Aradia: : Right. And magic! I feel this whole, like, We’re going to do a magic genocide, so we’re the only magic people around. Just seems like the dumbest idea! Because it’s like, You have any idea how many seeds you scattered out to the wind? Like every single one of them is going to be its own pod of rebellion, and I’m going to come back and use magic to take over the world. You just made the magic like a billion times stronger in terms of its political sAli: ence.

Bree: Well, and remember: The cousins, the other two little girls who disappeared, their grandmother is Gorynna Desse, the badass Mage’s sister. So I’m assuming, you know, if magic is inheritable here –

Aradia: : Which clearly it is, because eugenics is like the whole opening thing. Like, clearly magic flows along bloodlines.

Ali: : Well, and there was a whole point where he wanted to – I think it was him. He wanted to have new ID cards issued for people who could potentially inherit the power. Isn’t that right?

Aradia: : Yeah. And to make them pick which school they’re going to go to and to potentially get physically separated out, which like, That is always a bad sign, giving people special labels and physically isolating them? Never a good sign, that is always a red flag. And then to be like, Oh, because you have this ability, you can’t choose to be a regular secular person. You have to pick one of the magic schools and forswear ever learning the other, and you can’t have your own life. It’s just like, so top down and authoritarian that it’s like, that’s funky.

Ali: : Yeah. All the people that disappeared.

Bree: Also, Meemaw Ambrai freaked out about that, because that would immediately do what to all of her grandkids?

Ali: : Make them ineligible.

Aradia: : Yeah, disquAli: fy them from maintaining the power she’s held on to for their family for, what, 35 generations. 38 generations? Yeah. Long time. And that would just take away their power and kneecap them.

Ali: : And I think. Is it a coincidence that the people, the three that weren’t killed, other than the wife, which I’ll get to in terms of motive, but the three that they didn’t get to, who just vanished, are like the three that are too young to have manifested the power yet?

Aradia: : Mm mm.

Bree: Now do you think there’s a chance he had anything to do with making sure those ones didn’t die? Do we think he’s secretly protecting his daughter and nieces, or do we think he’s too evil for that?

Aradia: : He has to be complicated somehow.

Ali: : Yeah. I feel like there’s a – potentially he’s protecting them. I mean, it is weird though that then Sarra ends up with Orlin Renne, because you would think he wouldn’t want, maybe necessarily want her to end up with a member of her OG family, if he wants to, like, indoctrinate her like he does with Glenin?

1:22:30 Some wild speculations

Bree: Yeah. So I guess the question is, not to get too spoilery, but if you have looked at what we’re going to be reading next week, you will probably have answered is, What happens when his daughter and his wife disappeared.

Ali: : Because you’re like, either – there’s two options. Either it was one of those, like, She grabbed the three kids and ran and booked it, which is possible. She just grabbed the three kids and booked it and did her best. But Sarra was orphaned when we saw her, so either something tragic happened on the way or that’s not true. The other thing is: He’s involved.

Bree: All we know for sure is that – I mean, I think in this chapter there are two different points that say that she and the younger daughter are vanished, and may be Ali: ve or possibly dead. Like nobody knows. Nobody knows.

Ali: : Well, I mean, if he’s truly an abusive ex, like, then there’s a reason Maichen vanished along with the girls.

Bree: Yeah.

Ali: : I don’t know if he’s like: Witness, what I do you divorced this? You know or some weird thing like that, or he is like, I want to kill her myself, or some other thing. But I feel like the three girls he took because, I just kind of feel he’s too smart for it to have been like a, This woman – 50,000 people didn’t get out of the city, but this one woman and three girls, who were probably their top priorities, did?

Bree: Something’s weird.

Aradia: : Right, it’s not adding up. There’s a big old gap there. But like, I could totally see him being like, Yeah, I need to kill all these people for political reasons and make a big show of it and be the butcher of Ambrai. But also, my blood kin, I’m going to make sure that they know to get out like the day before, because I’m not a complete monster. I could see that too.

Ali: : Well, not the whole blood kin. Just Maichen, and the girls.

Aradia: : Right, right. But –

Ali: : Two of them are not even hers.

Aradia: : Yeah? Maybe he’s got a thing with killing kids? Or maybe someone else –

Bree: He killed a lot of other ones though.

Ali: : There’s a lot of fucking kids who died in that city. And if I’m right about Collan, his whole sibling group –

Bree: Yeah. Yeah.

Aradia: : Well, maybe someone else got wind of the plan and was able to, like, smuggle out high value items. Or maybe he was going to do the, I’m going to kidnap them. In the confusion, everyone will think they’re dead, but then they actually, like, got away somehow? And so, he lost them, where he was intending to kidnap them?

Ali: : That’s my thought. I mean, they could have gotten away in the ensuing stuff, but it just seems like – the palace would have been the main target, right? It’d be like letting a Romanoff slip through. It would just be a big miscalculation because if you want –

Bree: I mean, Sarra sort of seems like the Anastasia analogy.

Aradia: : (laughs) Yeah, very much.

Bree: You can’t let his other daughter just get away from him. That’s – if you need a weapon against him, or he wants another weapon, that’s, that’s the one, so.

Ali: : That’s the one!

Bree: How did she end up over where she did? In Sheve, which is what that place is called. Sheve is where she was.

Aradia: : And she doesn’t seem particularly traumatized at that point. So whatever the adventure was like, either she freed herself by being like, Rue the Flayer, or like she just, you know, got randomly whisked off by adult circumstances, and she has no no idea.

Ali: : Well, that was always my bump with Collan. It’s like, why, if you clearly have no problem murdering a woman and her children, by setting a house on fire, which is like a pretty brutal way to do that. Why kidnap a four year old? Because, all due respect. Slavery is a bad thing and everything. But wouldn’t a four year old make a really shitty slave? Like, would you really get that much money for, like, you have to raise that kid!

Bree: Do you think that’s a good place to hide him?

Ali: : I think it’s a pretty damn good place to hide him.

Bree: I mean, it maybe not be the nicest place to hide them.

Ali: : Yeah, but who’s going to look there?

Aradia: : Yeah. There’s a lot that’s not adding up. And either it’s a weird fantasy hand-waving, because we don’t need plot, or there are Nefarious Machinations that will be revealed in further pages. Given that we’re less than 100 pages in, that seems more likely.

Ali: : I just feel like, considering he seems to be a person that’s like, playing 4D chess, right? He’s like, okay, I got fucked over by the Mages, so I’m going to go on a at least 13 year plan to fuck them over. That has a lot of potential twists and turns, right. I’m going to buddy up to Murder Card Lady so that eventually, after at least 13 years I have completely fucked over that entire group of people. Yeah, it just feels like he’s too smart for this stuff that’s not adding up, to not add up later. Do you know what I mean?

Aradia: : I am nodding.

Ali: : Something’s weird.

Bree: (sing song voice) Something’s funny!

Ali: : Yeah, something’s weird.

Bree: I’m looking forward to you guys reading the next chapter and finding out what might be going on.

Ali: : It’s going to be like, We just escaped! And I’ll be like, Argh.

Aradia: : Right, we spent all this time being, It’s so complicated! And it’s going to be like, No, it’s just one, two, three. That’s all that happened.

Ali: : I’ll just have Anastasia, level 12 wizard.

Bree: I think that you guys are asking some important questions, is what I’ll say.

Ali: : And how do the Saints factor into this?

Bree: Who escaped? Where did they escape? When did they escape? Why did they escape?

Ali: : Wasn’t there a list of Saints that you sent out? Was that a thing?

Bree: I put it in our discord. There is a ‘Ruins of Ambrai references’. And so all of the Saints calendar is in there.

Ali: : Okay.

Bree: And I am also going to put our family tree in there.

Ali: : Because I’m like, I don’t know, they got to factor in somehow, but there’s a lot of them. So I’m assuming they won’t all matter and maybe they will. But I don’t know. I Just think something’s fucky.

Aradia: : Who are the Saints? Are they like active people? Are they like historical people? I keep breezing past them because it seems like way too big of a can of worms.

Ali: : I know. Like, well, maybe that’s been something we have to look at because it is a really big can of worms. It’s a big world building thing. So with big world buildy things, my thing always is, Okay, cool! And I just skip past.

Aradia: : (laughs) Exactly! Exactly. Same.

Bree: It’s something to do with their religion. It’s clearly their religion. Their religion is based on these Saints. There doesn’t seem to be gods or anything. The Saints are the religious figures.

Ali: : Yeah, the Saints, and then there’s the optional Loom.

Bree: Yeah, and the Loom is the Lords of Malerris, the Weaver’s, favorite thing. And there’s actually a Saint Chevasto who is the Weaver. And so, like, he’s their favorite Saint.

Ali: : Oh, it’s a He.

Bree: Yes.

Ali: : Huh.

Aradia: : And so like, is the Loom like a – so it’s not like in the Wheel of Time where everyone has one religion and they all understand the cosmology – the Loom is a specific one that not everyone subscribes to?

Bree: Yeah, the Saints are sort of the universal thing that people are either – I would compare them to, you know, some people treat them like we treat the Greek gods now, and some people treat them like, you know, Catholics treat saints. Right. It’s varying on how religious you are and what you think of them. But it’s all very baked into their – like their calendar. And, you know, everything.

Ali: : Sure.

Aradia: : But the Loom is a subset?

Bree: So, but the Loom is a specific religious – you know, or not even a religious – a culty sort of belief system. It’s an ideology for that magic order specifically.

Aradia: : Okay. And it’s very integral to their magic system and like how they use and understand their magic. So it’s not universal.

Bree: Yes, they definitely view the Great Loom as like their masterwork of, you know, their plan for how they’re going to remake society.

Aradia: : And Glenin wants to be one of them.

Bree: Yes, she is being trained.

1:30:48 Let’s talk (or rant) about gender in the Nineties, and the joys of publishing

Aradia: : And it’s a thing that men and women can do, even though they’re mainly called Lords?

Bree: They’re called Lords. And this could be something where – I don’t think this is a spoiler. So I’m just going to say it. Like the implication is that it dates from when they started having to have healthy babies and basically women who could have healthy babies were in charge of everything. And so there is a time before that, where this was not a matriarchal society, and the Lords and the Mage Guardians both come from before that time. So it could have been named in a pre matriarchal situation. But we’re thousands of years into this, you know, current fantasy eugenics, have healthy babies set up.

Ali: : That’s so interesting. It’s like the opposite of The Handmaid’s Tale, then. Where lack of procreative abilities or strong procreative abilities led to, you know, fascism in a different way?

Bree: Yeah, it was basically the people who had the power to actually make the babies were like, Okay, we’re the ones doing the work, so we are now the fascists overlords!

Ali: : I’m going to be real. That makes more sense to me than the system we currently have, because I’m like, None of y’all would exist! (laughs)

Aradia: : Yeah!

Ali: : I’m always like, How did we get the short, how did women get the short end of the stick?

Bree: So I think that’s the interesting – And there could have been lots of reasons why that shook out that way, depending on who survives, what sort of political magical power they had to make this the new system. The Lords, because the Lords and the Mages fighting is what caused that problem to begin with. The whole Waste War and the Waste. So the magic predates the current social structure.

Ali: : And Mages can be male or female, correct?

Bree: Yeah. It is, because it’s the nineties, still a very binary world. I do not believe there’s any sort of – There are queer people in this book, and there is some separation between sexuAli: ty and like, romanticism, like who you fall in love with and who you want to have sex with, spectrums for that. But I do not believe there are any trans characters or non-binary characters. There’s not much of a gender gender spectrum. It’s pretty binary.

Aradia: : Yeah, well, we’ll take what we can get.

Ali: : And this came out in 1994. I mean, in 1994…

Bree: It was not happening. There were people who were doing stuff in fantasy, but it was not as much. Yeah, for sure.

Ali: : And certainly there were trans and non-binary people at the time. I just don’t think that the, you know, common vernacular really held a lot of space for them there. In popular culture.

Bree: Well, I mean gatekeepers in publishing were not really –

Ali: : No.

Bree: This was radical. I mean they were only, you know. So yeah, it’s one of those things.

Aradia: : Yeah. I mean even The Left Hand of Darkness is hard to remember that it’s about non-binary people, because the language for it isn’t really there, even though the concept is.

Bree: Yeah, yeah.

Aradia: : You got to squint sometimes to just make it fit.

Bree: Yeah. And that’s the thing I always try to remind people about publishing is, it was like people were trying to write these stories and tell them, but at the end of the day, publishing had a narrow idea of what the audience was going to be for any sort of fantasy. And even books like this, like you know, Melanie Rawn that they published, didn’t necessarily get the sort of support you would need to become, you know, a George R.R. Martin, or a Robert Jordan. You know, at the end of the day, we have all this fantasy in publishing that, like, Books take off if they’re fabulous! And no, it’s really how much money Mark Publishing puts behind trying to make your book take off.

Ali: : Right? Well, and that’s what makes me so angry about when people go, Hollywood’s out of ideas. I go, That is, We are not out of that. No, it is the barrier to entry and the limited…

Bree: The people who fund things may be limited in their imagination of what is worth investing in. And I think that’s really it.

Ali: : And there are certainly, I think, properties that – I want to choose how I say this – that they will then point to, and they will not put necessarily the effort in that maybe they should, and then they will point to it as an example of See, this kind of story does not do well.

Aradia: : Ugh, yes. Yeah.

Bree: Oh, publishing. All the time. Well, we tried one and we didn’t market it or tell anyone it was on sale. Then nobody bought it. And so I guess that kind of book doesn’t sell.

Ali: : Yeah. They’ll make sweeping assumptions about the marketability of something without, I think, putting the required effort into actually making it. Widely known. Which is why I like things like Twitter, and stuff, are such powerful tools, because it’s a great way to do that work. But, you know, to try and do some of that work for them? And ways for people to engage in the material and get the word out? But yeah, it’s, it’s tough. I mean, I’m having a very good time reading this so far.

Aradia: : Oh, yeah.

Bree: I am very glad.

Ali: : And now that there are theories that can abound, I do love a good theory.

Aradia: : Definitely seeing the world get fleshed out on another round is nice. Like, okay, now I’m recognizing a few names, like I went back and glanced through the first section again. I was like, Oh, right. This incident was being referred to. I do know this name from before. It’s good!

Bree: Well, now we’re about to start getting into a section where it’s more forward momentum and more story, because each of these, I think, go a little bit farther because the character is older, or they’re younger, so they’re born later. And so their story takes us a little bit farther into the future. So I think that’s a good place for us to sort of wrap it up.

1:37:10 Music break, closing thoughts

Ali: : Can I ask one more question?

Bree: Absolutely.

Ali: : Aradia: . How are you enjoying the first time reader experience?

Aradia: : It’s so weird!

Ali: : Isn’t it?

Aradia: : So weird to not know the world and to be, like, putting out these ideas, like, just fumbling. And there’s literally no resource, there’s no dictionary, there’s no Google page, there’s no like, Discord Channel, where I can just be like, Wait, someone remind me how this works again? I’m so used to getting to reach for that.

Ali: : Enter our discord when it comes around

Aradia: : So bizarre! But now I’m really really enjoying it. I’m super enjoying being led along and wondering what’s just, you know, in my imagination and what’s an actual clue. And I’m loving talking with the two of you and your perspectives, both in publishing stuff and also just like as people, because you’re very lovely. So I’m having a grand time.

Bree: Oh, thank you. You’re doing a great job. I think you’re a wonderful first time reader.

Aradia: : Oh, thank you.

Ali: : You both are doing great. You’re doing great, Bree, leading us along through this series.

Bree: Oh, thank you.

Ali: : Because, when I started – When we were coming onto this podcast, I was like, I’m going to need a lot of clarification on what happened that chapter. I didn’t reAli: ze we were jumping back and forth in time, until really late in the game, so I was sitting there like, Wait, how old is she?

Bree: I want to just, you know, shout out your lovely husband Gus. He is my inspiration. I am trying to be as evil, and at least one third as clarifying as he is.

Ali: : I’ll pass it along.

Bree: I will never be able to do the voices like he does. But, you know.

Ali: : Oh, he does love a good accent and dialect for sure. But yeah, we can praise one another. I think we’re all having a good time. And I’m really having fun with you two. It’s really cool.

Bree: Yes. Yeah. And I hope that we have listeners who want to come talk about the book with us. Please come tell us all of your hot theories and your angry thoughts about fantasy eugenics, because, I mean, I feel like we did not get nearly enough time to be angry about them.

Ali: : I think we share them. I think we share.

Bree: So let’s be more angry about them. But also, I’d like to hear if people are angry at the content of them, or how they think that she handled them, if she frames them as evil enough, you know, because that’s what I think is interesting. I mean, I felt it was pretty judgmental, but we were also seeing it from the perspective of some like baby fascists. So, you know.

Ali: : Well, and I wonder if we’ll see more of that later because, like you’re right, the POV is not a perfect POV to be judgmental of it.

Bree: Like they’re judgmental, but they’re judgmental in a very, Well, you’re not doing fascism quite the way I do fascism!

Ali: : That’s not fair… to ME.

(all laugh)

Aradia: : I don’t think I get that most advantage I could out of this scenario. So can we just tweak it a little bit?

Bree: Let’s use some better, kinder fascism.

Aradia: : But what if I was in charge?

Ali: : We’re not like other fascist fascists. We’re cool fascists. You’ll all bounce the ball the same way.

1:40:37 Next time on The Hot Nuance Book Club

Bree: So, okay, next time we are going to be reading the Sarra section, which is pages 95 to 151 in the e-book. And yeah, Ali: . You want to take us out?

Ali: : I sure do. 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!

My dog just snorted. I don’t know if my mic picked that up. You know, a really loud, contented, sleepy snort.

Aradia: : I’ve been loving just watching his paws, like, twitching behind you. It’s amazing.

Ali: : Hold on. I’ll just show you just him right now.

Bree: That’s a happy puppy.

Aradia: : So happy.