I’m Going To Do the Home Install: Episode Notes

Ruins of Ambrai by Melanie Rawn

Welcome to episode 3 of the Hot Nuance Book Club, where we are tackling the Sarra section of the intro of The Ruins of Ambrai (pages 95-153). Sarra fails all facial recognition tests but still gains a profound insight into her purpose in life. Ali gives us marathon advice, Aradia reminds us that we’re all time travelers, and Bree helps us unpack some contradictory attitudes towards sex and marriage in the worldbuilding.

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

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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 also the co-host of Wheel Takes, and the creator of the Grinwell Cup on Twitter, which is probably my greatest achievement.

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

Bree: And I’m Bree, also known as one half of the bestselling romance sci fi fantasy kissing book author Kit Rocha. Most recent project was the Mercenary Librarians trilogy with Tor, and I’m currently writing a very horny book about a very sexy dragon that comes out in November, and I just had a cover reveal. It was very exciting.

Aradia: The one time when you can judge a book by its cover.

Ali: Exactly. Oh! Aradia! So clever.

Aradia: I’ll delete how long it took me to come up with that.

Ali: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. That’s what my favorite thing is about podcasts is, you get to make yourself sound so much cleverer than you are.

Bree: Long silence. Long silence. Clever retort!

Ali: Truncate silence saves Wheel Takes. Bree, you want to take us back in time?

(swooshing sound effect)

Bree: Welcome to Bree’s Mostly Reliable Time Travel Adventures. Please keep your hands and feet inside the car as we zoom back to 1994. Speaking of zooming, the movie Speed is about to make “Pop Quiz Hot Shot”, and “Shoot the hostage!” two of the 90’s most quotable lines. Figure skater Nancy Kerrigan was attacked, beginning our 30 year obsession with Tonya Harding. And we still haven’t managed to shake that.

Ali: I still think she’s a victim.

Bree: Yes, like: Nuance. Wanna talk about hot nuance.

Ali: So much nuance!

Bree: Oh, Tonya Harding.

Aradia: I mean, kind of cold, because of the ice skating, but. Okay.

Ali: Yes, cold nuance.

Bree: Chilly nuance. But hot. Hot chilly nuance? I don’t know.

Ali: But she’s hot.

Aradia: True.

Bree: Go to the You’re Wrong About podcast, if you want to go super deep on Tonya Harding because like, wow, their episodes about that? Crazy. Speaking of other things that happened in 1994. The Netscape browser has just appeared on the scene. Stargate The movie has gated into our hearts, and in November of 1994, bestselling author Melanie Rawn has decided to write a very confusing book that has stumped all of us by starting with three background summary chapters, introducing us to three protagonists, and we’re about to talk about the third one today.

Bree: So welcome to the Ruins of Ambrai by Melanie Rawn.

Ali: Here’s my thing. I am enjoying myself immensely. Do I always know what the hell is going on? Absolutely not. But somehow I am still very engaged. You know, I think things are becoming more clear, and I feel like the more we talk about it, the more I’m like, Oh, I understand what’s going on. So I feel like my understanding of this is going to increase exponentially as we talk about it.

Aradia: Yeah, it’s very – normally when I start books, I just kind of breeze past all the stuff I don’t understand and I’m like, Well, if it matters, I’ll figure it out as it comes up. Or I’ll reread the book later, because I was a chronic re reader as a kid. And trying to have cogent thoughts as the chapters unfold, just like in the moment, is really, really unusual for me. I’m not used to trying to make sense of things this early on.

Ali: (smugly) Welcome.

Aradia: So it’s like, Yeah, I’ve got notes and I’m confused, and I have to like, share my confusion instead of just breezing by like, No, I’m a book reader. I read lots of books so quickly I’m turning the pages. I know what’s happening. Like, no, now I have to expose my ignorance, but I am also very engaged and I need more of like the sexy hair escaping the coif. For some reason that is really doing it for me. The obsession with hair is doing it for me.

(Ali and then Aradia laugh)

Bree: The stray locks of red hair peaking out?

Aradia: (breathless) So titillating!

Ali: Yes, I felt very validated because my hair always is just escaping whatever I try to put it in because it’s like half curly. It doesn’t do me the decency of being full curly. It just curls just at my scalp. And so there’s no hair style where things aren’t escaping. So I felt very validated by that, that that was sexy somehow versus like what I think I look like, which is kind of like a greasy onion with like weird tendrils coming out?

Bree: No, the escaping tendrils of hair is big Main Character energy.

Aradia: Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Yes.

Ali: Really? This makes me so happy because I have been insecure about this my whole life. No longer!

Bree: I tell you guys, pay attention in books, if you start paying attention, every big main character heroine’s got braids with tendrils escaping at her temples. They’re always flying around. That’s the metaphor for being, like, unable to confine her and bind her, right?

Ali: She’s untamed. I’m giving untamed energy.

Aradia: Own it!

Bree: That’s my hint to you. You guys are going to never be able to unsee this now, because it’s like, everybody’s got the little tendrils of hair flying.

Aradia: Yeah,that totally tracks, that totally makes sense.

Ali: Those baby hairs.

0:05:14 Start of chapter discussion

Bree: So let us talk about our main character for this episode, which is Sarra.

Aradia: Sassy Sarra!

Ali: I dug her!

Aradia: She’s awesome. I love her so much.

Bree: Speaking of Main Character Energy, which she –

Ali: She’s great.

Bree: When we first saw her in Collan’s point of view, she was the bratty, little, bratty little Blood girl who, you know, basically gave him a lot of mouth and then was told to apologize and, you know, accepted his apology.

Ali: I dug her then, too.

Aradia: Yeah, she was awesome. It’s like, I hope she comes back! And then it’s like, Oh, no, she comes back. She’s coming back with a vengeance!

Ali: Yeah.

Bree: So I will tell you, that is who was on the cover. That is Sarra on the cover.

Aradia: Oh, okay, cool, cool, cool.

Ali: So she even makes the cover! I see.

Bree: She’s cover important. Yeah, I would say if I had to make a main, main character for this book, Sarra is probably pretty close to the top.

Aradia: Excellent.

Bree: Even though she’s third in this list, but the list is descending by age. So that’s where, you know, if you pay attention to it, Collan is the oldest and then Glenin. And so they did these chapters by starting as far back in history as possible. And then each one brings us forward a little bit.

Ali: That’s kind of been helpful, though, because I feel like, I kind of have a grasp on, Okay, so this happened, then this happened, then this happened. And now we’re potentially getting into a really big fun family feud situation, which sounds awesome. Love a feuding family.

Aradia: Three ways sister drama with the fate of kingdoms and worlds in the balance: So here for it.

Ali: But now I’m like, how does Collan fit in? Is he like Auvry’s illegitimate son? Like, how is he important?

Bree: That is the question, isn’t it? It is, yeah. How’s he important?

Ali: Is he also part of the family somehow?

Bree: Because he is who we started with, right?

Ali: And the cousins are still missing. Because we now know where Sarra went. But like her two cousins, My-whatever her name is, are still missing.

Bree: Mai and Elin are the two cousins.

Ali: Well, you know me. I love a good mystery. So I’m like, where are they?

Bree: And if you are listening to this now, if you go to our Discord, I will have expanded the family tree that I am keeping to try to help everybody. And so I have it in our episode notes for us right now, because this family tree is just getting more sprawling and more confusing, but also more intertwined.

Ali: Like my family.

Bree: If it goes long enough, it’s going to loop right back along on itself.

Ali: I know, they’re like, this woman has like nine kids and I went, Please, God.

Aradia: That’s a lot of kids.

Bree: She has so many kids! I had to ine them all up in a row. I could not go horizontally with those kids because they would have taken over the whole thing.

Ali: I’m like, first of all, get off her.

Aradia: Do you not have some heart leave tea in this world?

Ali: We’re busy!

Bree: So the last two chapters we skipped through time a lot. And this one, there’s only two main time periods that Sarra’s chapters take place in. The first one, when we open up, they say Maiden Moon. They were, it said, actually it had been bothering Sarra ever since they’d come to Ostin Hold at Maiden Moon. And I went and got this calendar for you guys. And Maiden Moon is week 12 of the year.

Aradia: Spring, I’m assuming.

Bree: Ambrai was destroyed in weeks 20 through 22. So we know from this opening chapter that Sarra has arrived at Ostin Hold about ten weeks before her home was destroyed.

Ali: Yeah it seems like they knew something was going to go down.

Aradia: Yeah.

Bree: So that’s the first question. Like by the very first line. That’s my first question for you guys. Why did they bug out of there ten weeks out of whatever was going to happen?

Ali: They knew something was up. And I’m like, was it Auvry, who wanted them out of the way or was it like, okay, what’s his name? Something Desse

Bree: Gorynel Desse.

Ali: Yeah. He seems like he was maybe involved somehow or knew something was up.

Bree: He’s got some sort of Gandalf-y vibes, you know? Wizard. Wizard Desse. So yeah, he’s the strange wizard who swept in to Collan’s life, to miraculously rescue him. And now he has swept in to Glenin’s life to miraculously rescue the Bard, and now he is swept into Sarra’s life to take her and her mother away from Ambrai right before anything can happen to them.

Ali: There’s a lot of miraculous rescue going on.

Bree: Yeah, he’s like a American Airlines of rescue this time. It’s just like popping up. Come with me. Let’s go.

Aradia: Yeah.

Ali: Yeah. He’s just a aware of – He’s like, I’m going to be the guide in multiple plot lines. That’s my role.

Aradia: And he, Gorynel Desse, was like, involved with Auvry in the last perspective, because he was who came to get Auvry to go heal Falundir?

Bree: Yeah, he came to get Auvry, to have Auvry help him get Falundir out, basically. Jailbreak him.

Aradia: Right. Right. Yeah. So and then there’s this whole thing in this section about how, like at first there’s a public fight between the parents and then like, five weeks later, there’s the real fight between them. And Gorynel Desse is clearly like hovering around. So I figured that there was some sort of like, Oh, we realized that like the subterfuge we have is starting to get real and turn sour and like, we know what the subterfuge play was going to be, and we don’t want to be here for the fallout of if that actually happens, or whatever other fuckery is happening.

I’m really confused where Gorynel Desse lies in all this. I feel like he’s a good guy because he keeps saving the protagonists? But like, he’s got his fingers in so many pies.

Bree: Here is the line that you’re thinking of: Last summer, after a very public and very noisy fight followed by a very private and very tender farewell, he had gone away to Ryka Court. Maichen Ambrai explained it to her two daughters as a necessary deception. But on Wraithenday Auvry Feiran returned to Ambrai, and this time no gentleness followed the shouting. After five horrible days he claimed Glenin and took her away with him forever.

Aradia: Yeah, like something. Something changed.

Ali: Something happened.

Bree: So they had some sort of plan, and then –

Ali: He backed out of the plan. Well, it feels like he, It feels like it was potentially like, Do you want to be in love and potentially kind of away from court and have no power? Or do you want to divorce and have a bunch of power all of a sudden? It feels like he had to make a choice.

Bree: Yeah. You think he had to choose between Punch Card First Councillor and passionate love but no power.

Aradia: That’s what is presented as. But I can’t help but wonder if there’s something else, that’s like beyond murder punch card plotting, because this is a really big betrayal and like, people will do the weirdest shit for their kids, right? Like, even more than for power or for revenge. Like doing shit for your legacy, for your heirs is like the biggest motivator sometimes behind people with all this, like, power stuff.

So I wonder if, like, it’s actually like, Yes, I’m betraying you, but it’s actually to save – I don’t know. I’m just not convinced that we have seen the bottom of the turtles that are making up his plan.

Bree: Mm. Well he does seem to be deep in with these Weaver people, the Weaver magic. And so I mean it could be that he thinks that’s how he makes the better world for his kids. Just light fascism, where he gets to declare they’re the best fascists.

Ali: Well, if there is one thing that sorts all problems, it’s light fascism. Historically has always helped.

Bree: This is where I wish we had a sound board. And you could just make that little like teet teet teet! (all laugh)

Aradia: I can put in sound effects after the fact. But yeah, it’s like I just don’t see how Murder Punch Card Lady is fully on board with him becoming the dictator of fascism for his daughters to have magic safety. I feel like Murder Punch Card Lady is not fully on board with that and she is simply a means to an end. That’s my current suspicion.

Bree: I mean, we haven’t seen much of her. We’ve heard a lot of her. I think that, you know, we saw her get very mad at a musician and maim him for singing a song that, you know.

Ali: Who among us hasn’t?

Aradia: And it’s perfectly normal.

Bree: Just over dinner.

Ali: She’s gaslight gatekeeping and girl bossing all over the place. If a man did this, no one would care.

Aradia: And we stan.

Bree: I don’t know if I quite stan, but maybe?

Ali: We stan equal opportunity dictators!

Bree: I mean, where do I draw the line at supporting women’s wrongs? It’s probably cutting out tongues at dinner. I mean, it’s. He didn’t, like, come up and like, here’s Wonderwall.

Aradia: Well, in which case we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.

Ali: How about you ever just read a really mean tweet at yourself and wanted to cut their tongues out?

Bree: Okay, But I mean, over dinner?

Ali: Yeah, he was just, he was sub tweeting her!

Bree: Does this wait until like the after – it is just very, very, very uncouth.

Ali: It’s gauche. It’s gauche to cut someone’s tongue out over dinner.

Bree: So she seems not great, but we haven’t really spent a lot of time with her yet, so we don’t really know what her personality is, what her end goal is and how much she’s working with these Weavers or being used by them, or using them.

Ali: It seems like she is also killing the Mages for sure. Like they’re going around and they’re like, sacrificing some Mages to keep her sated. And Glenin is the one kind of pointing her to who those magic people are.

Bree: Yes, we do find out that later in the chapter. She is going around killing Mages and they’re basically letting themselves get caught so that she will be satisfied and not go out looking for more.

Aradia: Which again, I feel like this is a means to an end person, not a mastermind. She’s very easily led by the nose and willing to believe what happens. She’s offended by a song. She just accepts that the Mages – She’s so clever, she’s getting all of them! Like there’s no way that this is actually who Auvy, the smart, ruthless person, is subsuming himself to. No, he’s climbing over her.

Bree: It does seem like it. She’s definitely got some emotional regulation issues. As someone who has them, I mean, I feel like that’s the only way you do cut out a Bard’s tongue dinner over like, you know, a slightly mocking song.

Ali: It’s a really rude sub tweet.

Bree: I mean, you knew it was politically dangerous. And so that was,,.

Ali: Have you ever had someone hate you so much, they wrote a song about you? I have not. But it gives Taylor Swift.

Aradia: Yeah, totally. Totally. Reminds me of the energy behind an Alanis Morissette album.

Ali: Mm hmm. Yeah. He just went in with You Oughta Know.

Aradia: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

Ali: And that was violent!

Bree: Yeah. Yeah. He attacked.

Ali: Yeah, he attacked first! No, and then she was like, Kill all Mages. But, okay, so I’m confused. Just about one quick thing about the Mages and the Weavers. The Weavers sacrifice themselves also, to also look like they went away?

Bree: So the Weavers, what we learned in the last chapter was that the Weavers basically – first they organized the downfall of most of the Mages, and then they organized what was supposed to be their own downfall, except for most of them lived. So like 90% of the Mages died and 10% of them survived their downfall. And then the Weavers had a quote unquote downfall. But for them, 90% of them escaped invisibly and 10% were visually sacrificed. So it’s like, Oh, now everything’s equal. They’ve both been destroyed except for –

Ali: Like, no, we have the numbers and now we’re controlling politics, because Glenin’s in there.

Bree: And they basically exist invisibly now. Now nobody knows they’re really there.

Ali: But they’re all politically active, like Glenin.

Bree: Yeah, Yeah, basically. Yeah. Nobody knows what Glenin is. So, I mean, how many other people out there, who else are we going to meet? We have to, like, wonder. I mean, it’s kind of like Darkfriends in the Wheel of Time. You know, anyone you meet could be one of them. We don’t. We don’t know.

Ali: Well, okay, wait. So, thoughts: He tried, Auvry, to get into politics as a Mage, which you can’t do. Like if you’re magic, you can’t get involved in politics because then you are too powerful. So he tries to get into politics in the Ambrai Court. But they put the kibosh on that. And then they had this public fight, so that he had an excuse to go over to another court where he might be able to gain some political traction? But then he was realizing, Oh, if I buddy up to, what’s her face? Punch Card Lady. An, Ana, Anise?

Bree: Anniyas, I think it is.

Ali: Okay. So if I buddy up to her, she’s going to like, let me kind of do what I want, and I can lead her by the nose. But if I’ve got wifey over here, there’s going to be, like, limitations to what I can manipulate, maybe? And so he went back and took Glenin.

Bree: Having a politically powerful wife with an extremely powerful family who, because of laws, controls him, because she legally, remember, would quote unquote, basically own him. I mean, he can’t own property. Well, he’s married to her. He can’t, you know, control anything. So there are definitely reasons why he would not want a powerful wife hanging around if he’s got plans.

Ali: I don’t think he really loved her. I think he was using her as a means to an end. And then that end did not pan out. So he’s like, cool, Imma pivot.

Aradia: What I failed to grasp is how the daughters fit into it. Because there’s clearly more than just the primogeniture of it. Like there’s something to do with the magic, which I suspect has to do with the eyes, because eyes apparently are the windows to the soul in this world or something. And I’m not clear on how having the heir versus denying the mother the heir versus like having the Mageborn – Like, I’m very curious about how the daughters fit into this struggle because he’s like, I’m going to take the one, but you can keep the other and I was like, What is this horse trading with your children? Do they have different, attributes in your like, magic metaphysical struggle?

Ali: Well, it seems like it, right, because Sarra’s definitely got perception. She’s really perceptive.

Aradia: She’s got Matilda Brain or something.

Ali: Yeah, she’s like, I make assumptions. And they’re correct.

Aradia: Extremely non-linear thinking.

Bree: I’m going to give you a tiny spoiler from later. They actually give this a name, they call it Gut Jumping.

Ali: Gut Jumping!

Aradia: I love that!

Bree: I’ve always loved that. It’s like basically she has crazy strong instincts and when she feels like she knows something, her brain has subconsciously done the work and figured it all out.

Ali: Same! No, just kidding.

Bree: Or maybe her magic –

Aradia: Yeah, that’s the ADHD, all the details and the synthesis and the.

Ali: And all the empathy.

Bree: Yeah. Don’t you sometimes feel like you’ve got that?

Aradia: Absolutely!

Bree: You know, for three hours you have no idea what to say, and then all of a sudden it’s just like, I just have solved it all. And. Well.

Ali: Do you all have the ADHD powers where you walk into a restaurant and you notice which couples are fighting?

Bree: (laughs) Sometimes!

Ali: Yeah, I’ll turn to Gus and I’ll be like, That table, that table’s fighting. Like they’re really upset. And he’ll be like, How do you know? And I go, I just. I could tell. And then I will watch them go back and forth? I’m so nosy, but there’s like, stuff like that.

Bree: There’s hypervigilance vibes, I feel like. Like when you are neurodivergent and you spent so much of your life hyper aware of how you come off to people, and also how they’re responding to how you come off to them? You get this vague superpower where you just like, know. You can read body language really well sometimes, because it’s not like you understand people, but you’ve got this defense dictionary built up in your head, like a self-defense idea of like what every little body language symbol means danger.

Ali: Because you have to study it.

Aradia: Yeah, it’s masking. It’s like, how are you? Like, yeah, you study it, you make you make people your special interest, you study how they behave, and then you are really fucking good at pattern recognition because how can you not be. Practice makes perfect, right? But yeah, she has a level of it that is clearly magically enhanced, because she’s super cognizant and super aware at a way too young age and then is just like preternaturally talented at it as a teenager. And it’s like, with the way we are but with none of the side effects and extra octane. (laughs)

Bree: These are precocious kids in general – Glenin was extremely politically. And I mean, she was raised from birth to be like the most powerful political woman, basically in the world, like of the biggest family. In the last chapter, Glenin was very aware of the politics of situations, even at a young age. But Sarra is like five in this opening scene!

Ali: She was manipulative, too. She was like, I will be more powerful with this person who bullies me, but I won’t be her friend. But I would like, pretend, and we’ll both pretend. Like she’s very manipulative.

Bree: Yes, she is very, I mean, political. She’s political from the start. Here’s where our interests lie. We will become allies. We won’t become friends, but we will become allies to, you know, rule over all the other people our age.

Ali: Yeah, I mean, the only person she seems to be actually close to is her father. And like, the tutor. The creepy tutor.

Bree: Yes. Red flag tutor.

Ali: Red flags all over the place. That man. Not good. Oh, there are some red flags in this one as well, I felt.

Bree: So. Let’s go back. It starts. She’s five years old and they have just arrived at Ambrai. And I think that there is something that is significant here. Or they have just arrived at Ostin Hold, because they’ve left eight, nine weeks ago. So they’re discussing basically, you know, we’re getting some information about the Waste and we’re learning about the Ostin family a little more. But there is something – speaking of daughters, that’s pretty significant here, which is that her mother is pregnant.

Aradia: Out of nowhere! Like, Oh, by the way!

Ali: And doesn’t acknowledge it.

Aradia: Does Auvry know? That was a very first thing I thought was, does Auvry know? Is it too soon?

Bree: I think that there’s a line in here that I read to you guys that I think that we should, you know, a very private and very tender farewell that happened last summer. And now she’s pregnant!

Aradia: Ohh. Yeah. Yup.

Ali: So then the timing is interesting of him destroying Ambrai. Because they arrive week 12, and then it’s eight weeks later and she’s super duper pregnant. Yeah. And they attack and she goes into labor.

Bree: Yeah. So they get her, they get her out of there, ten weeks basically before, you know. Before she’s super pregnant. Does Auvry know? I mean that is definitely a very important question.

Ali: And my question too is, Did Desse… what’s his, the G-name.

Bree: Gorynel Desse

Ali: Gorynel Desse, did he smuggle them out there as a betrayal of Auvry, because it seemed like they were working together last chapter, or at least were friendly in some way. But obviously, Auvry is also targeting Mages, so maybe not. Is he doing this as a betrayal of Auvry, where he’s like, I got to get them out of here? Or is he doing it on Auvry’s orders?

Aradia: I assumed the latter. It was like, I want to murder my wife’s family, but not my actual wife and child, make sure that they get out. Just murder everyone else.

Ali: See, I had assumed the former.

Bree: I am checking something quick. Looking at when the Bard thing happened. Okay, Sailors Moon, week 18. That is right before the Ambrai stuff went down. So basically when we see him, he probably goes after the Bard is hurt. That’s when he starts the Ambrai thing. So when Gorynel Desse goes to ask him to help save the Bard, it’s been eight weeks since he smuggled the wife and Sarra away, Sarra and her mom.

So he already knows he is taking her away and hidden her somewhere. And I believe Auvry asks how she is and he’s like, How do you think she is? And one thing, Glenin says in her point of view that I don’t know if you guys caught, is that when she looks at Gorynel Desse, she thinks this must have been her father’s famous teacher.

Aradia: Right. Yeah.

Ali: Okay.

Bree: So this was basically – I think Gorynel Desse showed up and was like, You owe me one. I took a bet on you and it clearly went to shit. And so you better do this last thing for me.

Ali: He’s giving Anakin vibes.

Bree: Little bit. Yeah.

Ali: Giving Anakin. Okay, So, okay. So Auvry definitely knows that she was smuggled away, but they don’t want him to know that she’s pregnant.

Bree: We have not any information, I think yet, either way. Do you think that if he thought she was pregnant, he would be reacting in a different way if he knew?

Aradia: Yeah. His actions don’t read like a man with a pregnant wife, especially given that they split up the daughters like, as part of this messy divorce thing. I feel like if he knew she was pregnant, that would really play into things and probably like she was going to tell him. But that was the day he came back and they fought and everything went to shit and like.

Ali: Well, and he already took one of her kids. Like, I don’t feel like she’s going to want to be like, There’s another one you can have as well! Right?

Aradia: So it’s like, this kid’s going to be like a secret, even from Auvry, which also means she’s going to be a secret from Glenin, because Glenin has, you know, decided to go with her dad.

Ali: Glenin never mentions her.

Aradia: So that’s complicated. Yeah, that’s going to be an interesting revelation when Glenin gets hit in the face with the surprise sister.

Ali: If she ever finds out.

Aradia: There’s a lot of pages here, I’m assuming she finds out.

Ali: But wouldn’t it be so dramatic if she, like, killed her and then found out after? Very like Oedipus.

Bree: (gasps) The drama!

Aradia: That would – I could see that. Okay. Yeah. Yeah.

Ali: There’s a world.

Bree: I mean, she’s not being raised by the nicest people. It’s the fascist. You think the fascist went wrong somewhere?

Ali: She’s not giving protagonist vibes.

Aradia: No, she’s giving antagonist vibes.

Ali: At best, anti-hero vibes.

Bree: Definitely, Sarra, we’ll see some more. I’m looking through here, there’s a lot about the Ostin Blood and basically world building here about Ostin Hold where they all live. And this is something where they start to talk about how the families are really organized. And I think, Aradia, you had asked if there were people who weren’t part of this Tier structure. And there’s really not, there’s like 300 names and you are part of one of these names.

But just because that there’s people like Lady Lilen, who are like, the First Daughters of First Daughters of First Daughters, there are also people who were probably related to them last time, like 38 generations ago. And so they’re basically strangers. They just have the same last name.

Aradia: Right? So there is definitely a nobility versus a regular people thing, it’s just not necessarily divided along names. The names actually transcend the socioeconomic tiers.

Bree: Yeah. And it is how close you are to the prime line of the name. And then after that, how well the person who is the prime, you know, First Daughter of the name, takes care of the people under her responsibility. And I think in this chapter we see a lot about how Lady Lilen Ostin spends a lot of time taking this obligation very seriously and trying to take care of everybody. So she’s got a thousand people who live at her, you know, Hold, and they’re just constantly building new parts on to an ugly, sprawling structure to just make more room for whoever else she has taken in.

Aradia: I like that vibe!

Ali: If they have as many kids as she does, there’s going to be a fucking million of them.

Bree: She does have nine kids.

Aradia: I mean they made that joke in the first perspective, about how like the, the animals that they raised breed like Ostins, and it’s kind of crude, but it’s like, You are a fertile fucking family, and everyone related to you is extremely fertile. And I like the vibe of that. It’s just, it’s rambling and chaotic and like, cozy through its familial fullness? Like it definitely gave the safe haven to put the protagonist so that they can age and become a good person, who has a good moral compass kind of energy. You know, like this is the Shire, this is the Two Rivers. Like there’s just this bustling spring, like, agrarian sort of vibe. That was fun.

Ali: But fancy. It feels like – the house that I picture is kind of like, What’s that mansion? There was that woman –

Bree: The Winchester house?

Aradia: That’s where my mind went, too. (laughs)

Ali: YES, that is it! That was it! I was like, there was a woman and it was a rifle company, and she was worried….

Bree: Yeah.

Aradia: I saw the creepy trailer with Helen Mirren and decided not to watch the movie. I know what you’re talking about.

Ali: The Winchester house. Yeah.

Bree: Yeah, Just. Yeah, Additions everywhere, you know, because she just has to keep taking more and more people in, which is a great place to hide an orphan, right?

Ali: Or the alternate reason: She’s afraid of ghosts.

Bree: Yeah.

Aradia: She might be.

Ali: The Winchester mansion. (laughs)

Bree: The wraiths! Because there are wraiths. They talk about the wraith in wood a lot, which might be a place we hear more about.

0:33:15 content warning: extensive talk about childbirth

Bree: So yeah. So she, Sarra and her mother go to take refuge here in this sprawling, messy Hold. And when word comes that her home has been destroyed, we get some premature labor and a baby being born. And Sarra finding out that this baby is being born, it’s going very badly because I guess, you know, maybe being a tiny woman who is in shock because her husband just murdered, like literally all of her family and 50,000 people in her town? You know, probably not the the way you’d want to try to pop out a baby.

Aradia: Yeah. And it goes on for like days. It’s one of those, like, really awful death by childbirth that takes days. And like, she doesn’t actually die in childbirth. She dies in a coma days later, but it’s still just like fuckin medieval childbirth. Man. Knock it off.

Ali: Knock it off.

Bree: I mean, I’m going to have to say I feel like it is proper that you’re given all the power in this series to the people who have to go through this shit.

Ali: I’m saying. I think we fucked up. Yeah, this is society. Hot take!

Bree: But I’m going to say this. What do you guys think about the fact that these people, who are carrying on this Bloodline, are the most important people in this world, and they have not focused all of their fucking energy on improving birth?

Ali: Well, I did appreciate one thing, which is that she was a labor in a labor chair, as opposed to on her back.

Bree: Yeah.

Ali: Because that’s how they used to do it. Right. But then there was that French king with the birth kink who was like, I want to see better. So lie down on your back, and we just decided that was the way to do it forever. That’s what I heard.

Bree: I have heard that. I have heard that rumor. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I have heard that too. I think I read a Twitter thread.

Ali: Regardless of whether or not it’s based on a king, I have read that that is actually not the optimal way to give birth?

Aradia: No, it’s not. It’s not. It’s definitely not.

Ali: We zigged when we should have zagged in that regard.

Aradia: And there’s a lot to be said that’s wrong about the era when the birthing chairs were in use, and the ideas around medical care. But maybe the positioning wasn’t the problem.

Ali: Yeah, the positioning was correct. We definitely had something there. Whereas lying on your back caused more problems. So I think in a matriarchal society that they would go, you know what? This is actually better and we’re going to stick with that, which I kind of appreciate as a potential thoughtful detail.

Aradia: And I mean, they also did say that like, it’s not just like her specific situation in that moment being stressed out. They also said like, yeah, she’s narrow hipped and had a hard time with giving birth. Like you’re going with the human design anatomy. Like, yeah, yeah. The skull versus pelvis thing is kind of a limiting reagent on our evolution. So they are human. They are going to have that problem.

Bree: It is a problem that needs solving.

Aradia: You would think that their magic shit would have inspired some innovations. Maybe, possibly.

Bree: I do feel like if I were, you know, going to use this as a setup these days, I would definitely spend more time on reproductive medicine and refining it and having greater advances in it.

Ali: I mean, you would think, yeah, in a matriarchal that would be priority number one.

Bree: But you know, I think at the end of the day, you know, I don’t love that pregnancy often – like in fiction it’s sort of the black box where you just don’t know what’s going on inside. But drama and pain comes out for women. Since we were talking about Star Wars, you know, poor Padmé just pops out some twins and then the robots, like, Well, she died of the Sads. sorry, Can’t do anything.

Aradia: What the fuck was that? Why? What the fuck

Bree: We didn’t even know she was having twins, even though she was a senator, presumably with the best health care in the galaxy.

Ali: And they just were like, you know, she sadded to death.

Aradia: Because that’s a thing.

Ali: That’s a thing that people do.

Bree: And, you know, I mean, Sarra’s mother might have sadded to death a little bit, but also blood loss and exhaustion from multiple days.

Aradia: Yeah, 48 hours.

Ali: Being pregnant in fiction is never good. It’s just never good, it’s never good for the woman ever.

Aradia: Or it’s so good that it’s not realistic at all. And it’s like, that was nonsense.

Ali: They’re like, Oh, it was painless. It was fast. Well, it was actually funny because I texted a friend after she had a baby. She’s the first friend to have a baby. And I texted. I was like, How was it? Like, how was it? I was curious. And she goes, Don’t tell anyone. It really wasn’t that bad. But for some women, it’s like not, for some women it’s not. For some women. It’s like the most traumatic and worst day of their life. And both are valid. And I feel like we don’t give space for either of those things. It’s just like you either die or it’s the easiest thing that’s ever happened to you, but it’s weirdly romanticized, where she was just kind of like, I mean, it wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. It was kind of like, fine, you know, She’s like, I had a baby. It was great.

Bree: Well, that’s good. That’s the dream.

Ali: I was like, yeah. Manifest.

Bree: My co-writer had a, almost got killed by doctors situation with her first baby – my nephew, who is going to college in, I can’t believe, this fall – he was an 11 and a half pound baby and she’s 5 feet tall.

Ali: Holy fuck.

Bree: So let me just tell you, the math was not mathing there.

Aradia: Oof, that’s bad.

Ali: That’s scary. That’s the worst thing I’ve ever heard. Though, to say it similarly, I know women who have like, had almost died, had really traumatic experiences, and then I know women who are like, don’t tell anyone. It really was like a walk in the park. But I don’t feel like I could say that because, well not a walk in the park, but like, it really wasn’t that bad comparatively to what I was expecting, because when you’re pregnant, apparently a lot of women like to come up and tell you their birth horror stories, right? Which, don’t.

Aradia: Yeah. Yeah.

Bree: The trauma stories.

Ali: Yeah. Don’t do that.

Bree: Yeah, I watched that baby come into the world and that was enough for me. (laughs) I was like, You know what, this is now my child, too. You are my heir.

Ali: I know someone who had their child watch their sibling being born. And I think that’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard. I mean, do what you want. Do your thing. But, like, I was just like.

I wouldn’t look at that situation and go, You know, what would make this even more fun? is to have a child watch.

Bree: God.

Aradia: Yeah, I know.

Ali: Which is why, when Sarra, like, pokes her head in? I’m like, girl, No, you don’t need to see that.

Aradia: Yeah, but she’s also, like, precocious and has been listening and knows that there’s a problem that is being kept in the dark. So I can see her taking the agency to be like, No, I’m going to get some goddamn information, because that’s clearly her whole M.O.

I was going to say, I know. I also know women on all ends of the birthing pain spectrum. My mother in law had four children with no problems whatsoever, no pain, just eerie like who has an experience like that? But what? But she’s told me the story many times that she just was like, Oh, I guess that’s happening. And then there’s, you know, like my mom, who loves to tell me about how I took 26 hours to come into the world. So.

Ali: Wow. Yeah. Same.I took forever. And my mom loves to bring that up. She’s like, You’ve always been late.

Aradia: So, yeah, it’s just like I know for a fact that the full range of the human experience has not been accurately presented to me in any form of media, print or otherwise.

Ali: Yeah, I just feel that there’s no nuance between the two experiences. It’s either like, Oh, that was romanticized, easy, perfect; or it’s like a horror show of blood and horror and death. Or like weird, sad death, where they’re like, I’m sadded to death. I went into labor, I was so upset and then just offed myself, sadly.

Aradia: There is Call the Midwife for trying to approach the space of having multiple variations on that story. But it is only about childbirth. It’s not inserted into something else. It’s focused on that.

Ali: That show is my comfort show. So I appreciate you bringing it up, because it’s always like What’s best for baby? And then we get to the end and like, everything’s usually fine. I don’t know a single character’s name. I can’t tell you a single fucking plot of that show, but I’ve seen like every episode. I don’t know what their names are. I don’t care. But they’re all so lovely and everything usually ends up fine. And sometimes you learn things, like about the development of the technology that we use today, why we do things.

Aradia: That part’s fun. I love the period shit. It’s so cool.

Ali: Yes, that stuff is very cool. So it’s comfort.

Aradia: Though. Like, oh, this pill from across the ocean is apparently a thing now, that’s going to change everything. It’s so cool.

Ali: Yeah, when they add, like, gas? And then some of them are, like, against it.

Aradia: God wants us to suffer.

Ali: God wants us to suffer, we should be able to feel everything. It’s like a whole thing. And when hospitals start doing, like, birthing wards stuff again, it’s interesting! And they’re like, It’s threatening our, you know, profession. Yeah, this is so interesting.

Bree: So I have a great grandmother who actually started a maternity hospital. She did not want to get married. She was a youngest daughter in a well-off, fairly well-off family. And she was like, I don’t want to get married. I think I want to start a laying in hospital, which is what I believe that they were called. And so she just started a hospital where people just came to give birth.

Ali: As you casually do, you just casually start a hospital.

Bree: Yeah, it’s just she was just such a plucky – she was like a romance heroine. Because of course then someone died in the hospital and left a widower with a newborn and a two year old and she married him.

Aradia: Awww!

Ali: That is like an episode of Call the Midwife. Literally.

Aradia: Literally.

Ali: That is literally Call the Midwife.

Bree: Yeah. So that is how my grandfather came into the world.

Ali: That’s wild. What a story. I love hearing stuff like that, like about people’s cool relatives.

Bree: Just a cool – I mean, just a total romance novel right there.

Ali: You should write it. You have the power, You have the technology.

0:44:40 End of content warning, music break

Aradia: But speaking of novels, do we want to get back to this one..? ADHD side track!

Bree: Okay. So Sarra sees her mother in labor and really hurting, and like, really not well. And her little five year old brain goes, I need to go get a healer Mage. I’m going to do this.

Ali: That’s correct.

Bree: So she runs outside and she jumps on a horse and starts rolling down the road, because the five year old logic says, if I ride out on this horse, I’m going to find what I need. And then there’s this wonderful line that I really love, which is: As an adult, Sarra would believe with all her considerable intellect in the Mage Guardians’ creed. That evening, however, formed in her a faith that went beyond logic and reason. She had ridden no more than a mile before another rider appeared, and became recognizable as Gorynel Desse. Not a Healer Mage, true—but a Mage nonetheless. And she had found him. That he had already been on his way to Ostinhold had nothing to do with it in the mind of a five-year-old girl. She, Sarra, had decided what was needed and done it. Without thought to herself or the consequences, or indeed much thought at all, she had done what was necessary. It would become the pattern of her whole life.

Ali: Okay, so she is giving neurodivergent representation.

Bree: She is just like impulse, action, result.

Ali: Impulse, action, result, and usually positive result.

Bree: Yeah. So. So this is where she decides she’s just going to, you know, figure out what needs to be done to it and move along.

Aradia: It really reminded me of how Glenin sort of decided on her purpose and how she wanted to move through the world. Granted, Glenin was older at that moment, but you can see the family resemblance, and how they have a formative experience. And then the book tells you: And that was how they were for the rest of their lives. It’s just like they make up their minds young, and on very dramatic things.

Bree: Glenin decides she wants to be the government. She wants to have all the power.

Aradia: Sarra decides she wants to be the resistance!

Bree: Sarra decides she wants to help people. If someone needs help, she’s going to go out and do whatever needs to be done to get them the help. So I think that’s really interesting. And you’re right. It’s like they just made those two decisions that were going to dramatic shape, perhaps a collision course between them later in life.

Aradia: Well, the part where she literally decides that she’s going to become part of the resistance, whether or not the resistance wants her, is like, That’s going to be some fireworks between the sisters later.

Ali: Yeah, that’s going to go well at the family reunion.

Bree: So the baby is born. Her name is Cailett. And that’s how we’re going to say it, Kyla.

Aradia: Cailet. Okay. Cool. Glad we decided on that.

Bree: I think it’s actually Cailet. There’s a rough pronunciation guide in the back, but a lot of it is just – so I’ve said it as Kyla in my head for years. So that’s where we’re going.

Aradia: You are the voice of God on this one.

Bree: Okay.

Ali: I was giving it a little fringe like Kyleigh. I like Kyla.

Bree: And she named for Saint Caitiri the Fiery-Eyed, because she was born during Wildfire, which is what this week is.

Ali: Cool. Fire girl.

Aradia: Yes. So girl on fire. We love a girl on fire.

Ali: Yes! Katniss!

Bree: So. Yeah, she’s got this baby, new little baby sister and she’s very excited. And she has a chat with Gorynel Desse, who was basically like, you know, you’re going to have to be given a new name. And she’s like, Yeah, I know. And my sister can’t come with me because my dad can’t know about her.

Aradia: And he’s like, You don’t even have your adult teeth yet. How are you figuring this out?

Ali: So he doesn’t know about her?

Aradia: Okay, okay. That’s a confirmation.

Ali: Yeah. Surprise!

Aradia: Secret baby! And like, nobody was talking about it either, Like, the whole, like, pregnancy. They were just like, pretending that it wasn’t there. So that partially was her compartmentalizing, but also maybe, like, there’s no rumors of a pregnancy to get back to Auvry.

Ali: She’s like, I just look like this. Yeah, it’s a goiter.

Bree: So she was just pregnant. Nobody really talked about who they were while they were there. And so, you know, Gorynel Desse has this little talk with Sarra about, like, how she has to go away and have a new name and there has to be secrets because her dad can’t know about her or her little sister. So Sarra is like, really sad because she doesn’t want to lose this little sister she has, the way she lost Glenin. And unfortunately, this section ends with: No. She wouldn’t lose Cailet, too. Not forever, the way sure instinct told her she’d lost father and elder sister. And mother, for Maichen Ambrai never left Ostinhold. She died without ever waking from a coma compounded of blood loss, exhaustion, and heartbreak. Her body was burned in secret, and the next day Gorynel Desse took Sarra—no longer Ambrai—to live in Sheve.

Ali: And he wiped her memories of that.

Aradia: Yeah, he does a Collan to her. He just like, does Collan’s – that thing again.

Bree: Yeah. Pulls a Collan. And so, yeah, he erases the memory of her little sister from her mind, before he –

Aradia: He locks it away before she unlocks it and gets it all back, when she locks eyes with her fifteen years later!

Ali: Yeah, when she sees her eyes.

Aradia: But yeah.

Bree: So yes, we pick up with her when she’s, I believe, 18.

Ali: I was confused when Taig showed up. Taig?

Bree: Taig, yeah.

Ali: Taig. When Taig showed up and she was like, There’s some guy named Taig. I was like, You were like, friends! What happened? Why are you ignoring him?

Aradia: Yeah! He’s the one you liked the most, how do you not remember?

Ali: Yeah! I mean, I guess you’re five. And so I was like, Okay, maybe she was just so young, because I don’t remember everything from when I was five, but I was like, You’re pretty sharp, kid. You seem to recall things pretty well. You’re like 5 going on 30, and then you don’t remember. So I was so confused for a minute, until they were like, Oh, her memories were wiped at that moment. And then I went, That makes more sense!

Aradia: Exactly the same thought process I went through as I was reading it. Like, what? What? Ohh!

Bree: Now I got to say, for a protagonist rescuing magic man, Gorynel Desse is pretty free with fucking with people’s heads.

Aradia: It’s twice now. Once would have been – but now it’s twice. And I’m like, How many other protagonist is he seeding around the continent?

Bree: And taking away their memories! Which we got to, we got to really, like, discuss. That’s a pretty sharp violation.

Ali: Well, and it’s interesting because he wipes her memories, but that formative experience of like I’m going to help people still stays with her. Like, she doesn’t remember the moment but she does still have that attitude. So it did still shape her even though she doesn’t remember it, which is kind of interesting.

Bree: Yeah, well, I’m not sure if he took away that part. He might have, but he definitely took away anything about her sister. So, I mean, he probably did, because why else would she have been riding the horse?

Ali: Yeah, exactly.

Aradia: Yeah, he blanked out the entire pregnancy and everything.

Bree: That’s a good point.

Ali: So she still was shaped by a moment she doesn’t remember, which is kind of interesting. So the memories that get wiped can still have effects on you. Which is kind of true about memories, right? You don’t necessarily remember, like, things that maybe traumatized you.

Aradia: Hmm. Mm hmm!

Ali: Your brain sometimes likes to wipe things that actually were formative, right?

Bree: Yeah. I think that the neural pathways are formed, even if you don’t remember how they got that way, or something like that.

Aradia: Right.

Bree: But yeah, I mean, I think that it’s maybe a little morally gray to go around. I mean, definitely this is a gray – I’m not sure if we’d call it a Wheel of Time compulsion thing, but I mean, it’s a little bit that. Kind of, you’re telling somebody, Don’t remember these things about you, and you’re not giving them a choice.

Aradia: He does say that like they were going to clue her into her history, when she was old enough. And I do kind of get that. I mean, you know, Children aren’t real human beings is like a very real vibe that I disagree with strongly, but it is a very real vibe.

Bree: Protect them for their own best interest.

Aradia: Yeah, they can’t consent. They don’t have consent to give, which means that you get to consent for them. And when you’re the magic man who’s dealing with these parents that are going to go to war, you’re like, No, I’m just going to wipe the kid’s memories here and there, and I’m doing it for their own good and I’m like, I hate it, but like, they are children, and that’s logic?

Ali: Well, children are definitely an oppressed group, right? But if you think about it, I mean, certainly they are. And sometimes you can justify it as like, there are children, right? A toddler cannot necessarily make great nutritional decisions. Right? So you do need to have some guidance and control over the situation, obviously. You need to have boundaries and, you know, all this stuff. But I think that there is a lot of conversation that’s happening nowadays about, like, treating children as people and giving them as much agency as you can over a situation, right? Like explaining your boundaries to them, rather than just going, Because I said so. Or, you know, punishments being emotionally regulated and agreed upon, and discussed, and all those kinds of things, and measured, and not, like, striking a child. But once upon a time that was like, that was love. Like, you hit your kids because you love them and want them to be good. And now it’s like, Oh, baby, that’s not going to teach children the emotional regulation that you want them to have?

Aradia: Maybe not?

Ali: But I mean, I also get it, though, because it’s like, this is a huge secret. And do you really trust a five year old to keep a secret, even a really smart one, right?

Bree: Probably not. I mean, I think the thing is, did he make the right choices? I mean, I guess… maybe.

Ali: But are they icky?

Bree: A little icky? I want to just note the little bit of ickiness here.

Aradia: What, we have morally gray magic people in my giant novel, what?

Bree: (laughs) Hot nuance!

Ali: Hot nuance. Is it the right thing to do? Probably. But is it icky?

Aradia: Definitely.

Ali: Yes. Definitely icky, to do to somebody. I feel like it was even more icky and confusing that he did it to Collan.

Bree: He did it to Collan at 18. I do feel like, when he met 18, Collan maybe was old enough to decide whether or not he wanted to forget the Bard. You know, he took something really important, like that was his father figure.

Ali: And he could still play very well. So again, the memories, you still have the skills and the neural pathways.

Aradia: Impressions.

Ali: Yeah, but you don’t necessarily remember how you got them. How weird would it be to be really skilled at something and not remember how you got there?

Aradia: That would be so bizarre. Like reverse Alzheimer’s or something.

Ali: Yeah.

Bree: I mean, this dude is also out here playing literally Falundir’s lost lute. Playing his songs on them with no idea that he’s got the most revered instrument of all times and that he learned to play it from the guy whose songs he’s singing. I mean, that’s kind of wild.

Aradia: And like, it almost feels worse that they took away his memories of his mentorship because, if you take away traumatic memories and state secrets from a five year old, what are they losing? They’re losing the blurry impressions of a five year old. You take an 18 year old, and you take away his mentorship? That’s a much bigger part of his emotional growth.

Bree: Like the first person in his life who truly showed him love and like –

Ali: Yeah!

Aradia: Right. Whereas like, my memories are real patchy before age five, you know? Like, yeah, real, patchy.

Ali: So it’s not a huge loss, because she might not have remembered them anyway, right?

Aradia: Especially with all the trauma.

Ali: Right.

Aradia: That’s a lot of trauma. I can relate. You know, there are holes after that.

Ali: Yeah. And I’m kind of okay with taking away from a kid the sight of seeing your mother bleeding to death. Like, I’m kind of – I’m not fully okay with it, but I’m kind of like –

Bree: It’s a different vibe than –

Ali: That’s not the worst thing to lose, because, I mean, then you grow up with that, right? Being a part of your conscious, maybe it was like good in a way that she didn’t remember that necessarily. Like there are things with little kids where you’re like, I’m kind of glad they don’t remember this period or this event. But yeah, I just feel like it would be so weird and violating to have this skill and have this incredible relationship, and now he just doesn’t remember any of it. It’s kind of mean.

Aradia: Yeah.

Bree: And it’s clearly made him cranky, his forgiveness, because we meet him later on.

Aradia: He does seem like a loose cannon. Yeah.

Bree: So we catch up with Sarra. She’s 18. She’s on a trip with Agatine, who was her, like, adoptive mother. They’re at a ball in Pinderon, which is just, you know, she’s not enjoying the rustic place. And yes, her maid comes in, saying that the hottest hottie who has ever hotted has arrived.

Aradia: Yes, Tarise. I love her. She’s so fun!

Ali: I love her.

Bree: Yes, Tarise is so horny.

Aradia: (laughs) Is she the one that’s always praising? She’s the one who’s always praising men by that one saying, right? So thirsty! This is the Else Grinwell of this series.

Bree: Yes. Tarise is the Else Grinwell. She comes in and –

Ali: That’s why I instantly loved her. You know, I love a horny woman. And I love that there was a Saint of huge schlongs. That made me happy.

Aradia: (laughs) Saint of horse dick.

Ali: The patron saint of horse dick.

Bree: I mean, I’m going to read. I got to read her full – She ticked off the attributes on her fingers. Tall, lean, perfect shoulders, long legs, gray eyes like pools of silver in sunshine, cheekbones to sigh for, smile to die for, mouth luscious as a ripe plum—and as for what’s beneath those scandalously undone lower buttons of his longvest—Holy St. Geridon!

Aradia: (laughs gleefully) So much thirst!

Bree: So that’s a horny girl and we love to see it.

Aradia: That’s just hot. There’s no nuance. It’s just hot.

Ali: I love it. She had to list everything.

Bree: Yes. Yes. And it just got increasingly poetic as she went on.

Ali: She was rhyming.

Aradia: Scandalously undone!

Ali: Have you ever been so horny that you rhyme?

Bree: I’ve never.

Aradia: It’s a transcendent space.

Ali: Shakespeare has.

Bree: Yes. So it was horny as Shakespeare. So that’s, that’s horny.

Ali: That’s pretty horny with some of those sonnets. I’m going to say.

Bree: We do find out that Taruse, the horny, wonderful lady, does have a huge crush on the master of stables, who just likes his horses.

Aradia: Has a horse dick, clearly.

Ali: Yes. Appropriate, considering his profession.

Bree: Sarra meets Taig again, who is as hot as advertised, apparently. Hotty McHottyPants.

Ali: Hotty McHottyPants. You know what? I love a good childhood friend who grows up to be hot. I’m a sucker for that shit.

Aradia: Yeah, it’s good. It’s good stuff.

Ali: Or when they hated each other as kids like the Swan Princess, where they hate each other as kids, and then they’re hot. Love a good enemies – childhood enemies to lovers. Excellent. Ten out of ten.

Bree: Beautiful. She does say, agreed, that he is just as handsome as Taruise says. But then she adds, There was something almost too intense about him, something burning behind his pale eyes.

Aradia: That comes up again and again.

Ali: Intense.

Bree: Yes. Taig’s intensity is definitely something that is repeated. He is maybe a loose cannon himself.

Aradia: Yeah. I feel like Taig and Collan are either going to get into like a bunch of fistfights or they’re going to get into, like, all the trouble together.

Bree: So they seem to be getting into trouble together already. He immediately asks Sarra to dance and then go out for a walk, because he’s clearly curious. And we know that he is one of the few people who knew who Sarra actually was.

Ali: And he remembers her.

Bree: Yes, he remembers her.

Ali: How old is he?

Aradia: He’s – he was 12 to her 5.

Bree: He is 25. Yeah.

Ali: Okay.

Aradia: So he’s seven years older than her.

Bree: The only people who know who Sarra was when she arrived and know who Cailet is, are Lady Lilen, her healer, and her three eldest children, one of whom has died and one of whom is Taig. So he is one of like –

Ali: Died under mysterious circumstances!

Bree: Died under mysterious cisumstances.

Aradia: Died in an accident that was no accident.

Bree: Yes, her Mage born daughter died mysteriously. So. Yeah. So Taig is one of the only people who knows who she is. And immediately he’s like, Let’s dance, let’s go for a walk!

Ali: He’s trying to trigger those memories for sure.

Aradia: Is that what that is?

Ali: Yeah.

Bree: Maybe he was just trying to check her out or – Not check her out like, check her out, but, like, be like, you know –

Ali: Could be both.

Bree: Because, you know?

Ali: 18 to 25 is not my favorite age range.

Bree: They go outside and he is like, the second – Well, they first they pass a minstrel who she has to remark about how wonderful and expressive his voice is.

Aradia: Capital M minstrel I was like, Ah! It’s Collan! It’s Collan, it has to be!

Ali: It’s Collan.

Bree: Capital M minstrel. His voice deep and expressive. His lute is supple as any Sarra had ever heard.

Ali: Deep and expressive. Thanks, Desse, for not making me castrated.

Aradia: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Bree: And speaking of, the minute they are, like, alone, Sarra is like, So, when did you last see Magic Man? You know, very subtle. Sarra. Sarra’s not, like, playing this.

Ali: She knows what needs to be done, but she’s not going to be subtle about it.

Aradia: She’s not a political operative, at all.

Ali: Glenin she is not.

Aradia: No.

Bree: Oh, we also find out that diminutives are common in this world here, because he calls Gorynel Desse, Gorsha. And this is something that comes up more as you go on. People will add the -sha to somebody’s name.

Aradia: Yeah, her diminutive is Sasha, right?

Bree: Sasha, yeah.

Aradia: Which is very cute.

Ali: That felt very Russian to me.

Bree: It is a little bit. Yeah, yeah.

Aradia: Yeah, totally.

Bree: So he’s like, yeah, You know, if I worked for the council, you’d be in trouble for just implying that Gorsha is alive. And she is like, If you work for the council, you know, I’d be more worried about someone who calls a Warrior Mage by his personal diminutive.

Aradia: Yeah, that hasn’t changed. Sassy Sarra is still sassy.

Ali: Sassy Sarra’s gonna stay sassy.

Bree: She stays sassy. And they’re just trying to have their little talk. He’s like, you know, Chill out. Please don’t do whatever crazy thing you’re about to do. You’re too young. But in a few years, you can come join the revolution. And that’s what he says. He said he came and talked to her because he could just see in her eyes that she’s getting impatient. She’s getting impatient to be out there doing the revolutionary things that she has to like. He says, The minute I saw you, I knew you had to be warned. Like, chill out!

Aradia: Yeah. Which is like, obviously that is throwing, like, water onto a grease fire. That’s not going to help!

Bree: Yeah. So this is where we find out that someone Anniyas is running around getting Mages killed. Only Sarra assumes they’re, like, letting themselves get caught, and Taig’s like, No, they’re pretty brave. They’re sacrificing themselves to keep Angry Punch Card Lady’s card punched, you know, sufficiently.

Aradia: She got to keep racking up those reward points, you know?

Bree: Yeah. I mean, she wants her free sub, one per year. And so these Mages are out here just like, I guess punch me because, you know.

Ali: And Glenin is out there helping!

Bree: And Glenin is out there helping.

Aradia: Glenin is the secret weapon that’s making it all possible.

Bree: Yeah, she’s identifying the Mages.

Aradia: She’s a collaborator.

Ali: Not a great look!

Bree: Ooh, yeah.

Aradia: Capital C, collaborator.

Bree: She’s clearly gone full punch card. Pro punch card.

Ali: She is at best anti-hero, at this point. At best!

Bree: Yeah, Yeah.

Ali: Unless she gets a redemption arc.

Aradia: I’m seeing full big, bad villain arc at this point.

Ali: Yeah. I’m not loving the ambition. I’m not loving the, you know. Can I ask a question? Was Orlin Renne – Did I misread this, or was he kind of creeping on Sarra avery now and then? He was, like, touchy. At one point she was like, If you touch me again, this wine is going to end up all over you.

Bree: Oh, okay, That was not Orlin. That was the father, I think, of the person, the host of the party.

Ali: Okay. So he was being creepy and touchy and she was like, I’m 18, you pervert.

Bree: She, let me see what his name was. Velira Witte’s father. But you know what? They say this right after they say Orlin Renne is sitting somewhere else. So you might have gotten confused.

Ali: I did get confused, because for a second I was like, do we have a touchy foster dad? Like, I, hmm..

Bree: No.

Aradia: I’m like, Not Orlin, he seemed really nice!

Ali: I know! I was getting whiplash.

Bree: No, Orlin is extremely chill, but the host’s father, like 80 year old father, was like, getting a little grabby with Sarra. And she was like, Touch me again, and I’m gonna throw this in your face.

Aradia: Which, yes..

Ali: Yes. You tell that octogenarian!

Bree: And then he shut it right down. Because, you know, in this world, if an 18 year old woman gets mad at you, First Blooded First Daughter, she can make your life very miserable, even if you are an old man, so.

Ali: Delicious. Love that for everyone. Love that he didn’t come back. I was like, bitch!

Bree: He was like, I’m going to shut up!

Ali: It’s a compliment, right?

Bree: Yeah.

Aradia: Interesting thing about this party is how it’s the wedding.

Bree: Yeah, They’re celebrating Glenin’s betrothal.

Aradia: Yeah, Like, it’s just. It’s like the Glenin thing. It just. It’s so, like, in the background. Like, that’s the funny thing with these POVs, right? The last POV was Glenin, and then this. It’s like, Oh, yeah, we’re here like, Betrothal Party or whatever, and it’s like a big deal. But also, like all this other plot was happening.

Ali: But she’s not going to go see her sister. Is Glenin there?

Bree: No. Like all over the country, they’re celebrating, because she is the First Councillor’s sort of like – it’s like the president’s son just got engaged to someone and they’re all having parties to celebrate it.

Ali: That’s so awkward.

Bree: So it is very awkward for her. She thinks about it a few times. It’s just sort of like, you know, she’s stuck at a party celebrating the sister she can never acknowledge is her sister.

Aradia: That’s the weird – She can’t acknowledge it. She keeps thinking about it, but she can’t acknowledge it, she can’t talk to anyone. And then like half the guests come up to her like, Oh, yeah, I’m actually in the revolution and I know everything that’s happening and I know who you are. And it’s like, you know, she’s the only one not in the loop. It’s really awkward.

Ali: This really reminds me of a scene in, like the first episode of The Power, where the daughter and this is not like, not a spoiler, but because it happens in like the first 10 minutes. But she, like, goes to the wedding of her half brother and the dad doesn’t acknowledge her during the speech.

Bree: Oh, yeah. I remember that.

Ali: He’s like, I’m finally getting a daughter, whatever. And his daughter, who he doesn’t acknowledge, is like, right there.

Bree: Oh, yeah, his daughter with his mistress.

Ali: It’s so awkward. Yeah, I don’t know. That would be really awkward.

Bree: And it is definitely… ugh.

Ali: Ugh.

Bree: Yeah. So she and Taig are talking about how her sister’s now a murderer’s friend, accessory to murder. And guess who shows up?

Aradia: The other sister.

Ali: Cailet!

Aradia: And then they have this timeless eye contact, and it’s like, Boom! Tidal wave of memories, and then, then we were confused.

Bree: Big magic moment, souls, eyes, everything.

Ali: Memories come flooding back. She’s like, You killed my mom. But it’s okay.

Bree: They both have her mother’s black eyes.

Aradia: Yeah. So they’re more alike than they are two Glenin. They both take after the same thing, while Glenin took after their dad.

Bree: Yeah, Glenin has the dad’s eyes. And Cailet and Sarra both have mom’s black eyes, which are supposedly infamous because Falundir wrote a song about their mother’s beautiful eyes when she was 16.

Aradia: Yeah, Falundir again, looped around. I’m like, Yeah, yeah. Falundir. You made eyes at this woman once? What?

Ali: Maybe – Wait. Sorry. I’m just trying to figure out still how Collan factors in all this (laughs).

Bree: Well, remember, Falundir was castrated when he was very young, because he is Bard.

Ali: Bummer for Falundir, for sure. Not a great time. So he said, this man has had so many things cut off of his body!

Aradia: Oh, him and knives are not having a good time.

Ali: Can we discuss?

Bree: Falundir has had a rough go of it? But I’m not sure if he would say that he regrets that because he definitely enjoyed his barding. You know, he was the preeminent bard. So that may be something where it wasn’t quite the same situation.

Ali: You mean couldn’t hé be a bard with a voice change? Like I read, Collan seems to be doing fine.

Bree: I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know if we are ever really told what that whole situation was.

Ali: Imagine being a rock star who can’t fuck anybody.

Aradia: What is even the point?

Ali: What is the point???

Bree: I’m just going to say, I do not think at this point he has expressed any real sadness about not having the… the company.

Ali: The company!

Aradia: The company. The boning!

Bree: But it could be, so.

Ali: I mean, at this point he’s got more things to be bummed about.

Bree: Yeah. He does have a lot of other things to be bummed about when we meet him.

Ali: Can I just say, this man has had so many body modifications just thrust upon him, for lack of a better term.

Bree: He’s been through some shit. I’m looking for the part where it actually happens. Yeah, they meet. They meet each other’s eyes. And like, Sarra remembers everything. You know, the Ostin Hold, and her pregnant mother, and the baby, and running to get Gorynel Desse, and –

Ali: Just a whole lot of trauma, just floods into that cerebellum.

Bree: And she says Cailet’s name and Cailet is clearly extremely suspicious that this pretty girl is hanging out with Taig and not digging it. Cailet, of course, has no idea who she is, because there’s nothing for her to forget or remember.

Ali: It’s so sad.

Bree: Because she was a baby.

Ali: That is so interesting though. Like when you see, like your parents’ friends, and they’re like, Oh, I met you when you were five! And you’re like, I don’t know you. At all. And then you kind of wonder about that with your friends’ kids who don’t like, live in the same state as you and stuff, so you don’t get to see them that often. You just kind of text. And you’re like, Am I going to be that adult to them? Where I’m like, I remember you being like four years old and toddling around! And they’re like, Cool, yeah, I don’t remember that.

Bree: Oh, I’m the worst as an aunt about that. I am so bad. I told my nibling there the other day how they were conceived, which was after Star Wars. It was after we all went to go see a Star Wars movie and then drank a bunch of tequila. And then they went home, and that was a baby, you know, And they were like, Please don’t tell me this.

Ali: You know, something about having, like, siblings have kids or friends have kids. You’re like, I could ruin your life with one sentence.

Bree: I’m the best, worst aunt.

(all laugh)

Ali: That’s a lot to know.

Bree: Yeah, I know, I’m sorry.

Ali: Noone needs to actually know their conception story. Noone wants that. Who wants that knowledge?

Aradia: And yet so many of us are burdened with it.

Ali: Oh, yes – hmm. No. I’m not going to tell this story on the podcast.

Aradia: No, it’s a burden. It’s a burden. We don’t need to share.

Ali: It’s a burden I don’t need to share with others.

Bree: So. Yeah. So we know Cailet’s conception story, which was they made up very privately and then everything went to shit. Basically from here on out, they’re trying – Cailet has come over to tell them that the justices are looking for the minstrel, because apparently he’s singing the song that you’re not. supposed to sing.

Ali: He loves doing that.

Bree: And you know which song this is, of course. Right? Did you figure out which song this is?

Ali: Oh, is it the song that got his – the other guy’s tongue cut off?

Aradia: Yeah, I would assume so. It’s the one where it’s like, (sing songs) You’re super traitorous to the concept of humanity! Or whatever.

Ali: Yeah that’s the big no no song.

Aradia: Yeah, but everyone knows it like, or at least knows the chords of it. So it’s like, the oppression is just making it spread more, you know?

Ali: What if it’s kind of a bop or like an earworm?

Aradia: It has to be an earworm. It’s Falundir. Clearly it’s an earworm.

Ali: Yeah, it’s got to be a bit of a bop. And people are pretty boppin to that. They can’t, you know, hear it often.

Bree: So he sang it on the boat as they were coming over here and now everybody’s like, We’re going to arrest you, because you are singing the forbidden song. So they are like trying to find – this chapter has a lot of mistaken identity of Sarra trying to find Collan and like getting him confused with other people.

Aradia: Yes. Did not help us at all. Yeah.

Ali: I was a little confused.

Bree: How did you guys experience this subsequent current of events? Because it’s basically them trying to find Collan and Taig and get them to safety from the guards. And Sarra just keeps wandering on other men who are either minstrels or have red hair, and thinking that they’re this minstrel.

Ali: Yeah, she also keeps making it worse.

Aradia: It was giving me the feeling of whenever I try to play DnD, like this is how it goes. I talk to all the wrong people. I don’t say the right thing and not at all the result that I wanted comes out. Like, it was such a mood. I was cringing with empathy so hard throughout her whole, like trying to make herself look like she got assaulted, but no, not like that!

Ali: Well, I was like, Girl. What did you think they would assume?

Aradia: She’s 18, she doesn’t know what!.

Bree: I think she was going to say that somebody else assaulted her, and Taig and the Minstrel were chasing him to stop him? But they just went right to, Oh, no! The guy who sang the bad song tried to assault you! Of course he did. Because he sang the bad song.

Ali: Oh, okay. That makes much more sense, because I thought she was like, He pushed me down! And I’m like, Girl! That’s not what they’re going to think!

Aradia: Yeah, yeah. I was right there with the people that were confused, but with her. Like, what?

Bree: There’s only this one line where they’re like, Taig can, like, figure out that he’s supposed to be on the path of an infamous seducer or something. So Basically, the whole idea was that they are supposed to be chasing down someone who hurt her, to try to stop this person or, you know, catch them or whatever. But she didn’t really get to her story, managed to accidentally sort of accuse the minstrel of assault.

Aradia: She just rolled a Nat 1 on her deception check.

Ali: She was like, Whoopsie. So she doesn’t always know what she needs to do.

Bree: Her first mission as a member of The Rising is not off to a great start.

Ali: And he is understandably peeved.

Aradia: Yes, very much so.

Bree: Yes.

Ali: So you accused me of assaulting you. That’s not great.

Aradia: Not helpful. Don’t want to work with you anymore.

Ali: And I understand.

Bree: So Lilen takes her inside and they have a little talk, you know, about how she remembers everything, and then Lilen like, dumps the entire roster of all of her children on us, which is nine or twelve children. I don’t even remember.

Aradia: So many babies!

Bree: She’s had many children, you know. And so the next morning, Sarra is trying to go out to town, because she thinks she’s going to continue this rising mission she’s on, you know, part two, this time not messing up. Orlin Renne is sticking with her, because he knows exactly what she’s up to.

Ali: Okay. And at that point, I had thought that Orlin Renne was like a weird groomer. I was like, what is all the rape plots?

Bree: He’s just like, I’m coming with you so that you did not get yourself killed. Because you’re clearly bumbling your first round of missions here.

Ali: And then I was confused, because he took her to a brothel. And I was like, this is grooming!

Bree: Okay, So here we go.

1:18:47 Music break, and Let’s talk about sex work

Bree: Second to periods in fantasy, my second favorite discourse: Sex work in fantasy.

Aradia: Yes!

Bree: So Robert Jordan, always pretends that it doesn’t exist, which is like the weirdest thing I think you could possibly do? Especially in a world where all the tavern workers are getting like, pinched, all the time. Like, what do you think this is?

Aradia: I just came across a line in Knife of Dreams that really made me question if he had written prostitution out of the world. I’m like, How am I supposed to interpret this line, except that prostitution exists, Mister?

Ali: When I get there, let’s discuss. Because I’m like, with all of the cactusing, which is what I like to call assaults, with all of like those plots, I’m like, We’re really going to say that they were like, No, but I’m not going to pay for it.

Aradia: Right???

Ali: Yes, I’m going to come by it naturally. One way or the other. I’m like, Hmm??

Bree: I don’t know, whatever he was going for, like, I’m going to be feminist! That’s not how feminism works.

Aradia: Sex work is work. It’s the oldest profession. Don’t disrespect the concept.

Bree: Yeah.

Ali: Literally, they introduced the concept of money to bonobos and pretty much immediately sex work happened.

Aradia: Concept. Primates want to fuck. It’s a thing.

Bree: I’m assuming, because we are all pretty sex worker positive here, this is a you know, let’s – it needs to be safe for them, and we need to stop doing things that, you know – obviously nobody should be doing that against their will. But the people who are choosing to do it need to be protected by laws and not stigmatized and penalized.

Aradia: Punished for existing?

Ali: Yeah, I am anti sex trafficking, pro people who engage in sex work willingly.

Aradia: Yes, exactly. They should have medical care and protection under the law and the ability to unionize and, you know? Work things?

Ali: A sex worker union would be so rad!

Aradia: I’ve read about these things, they’re… yes.

Ali: That’s amazing. I’m like, it’s always going to exist, and it’s one of those things where I’m like, so let’s make sure that people are safe and taken care of, okay?

Bree: It seems pretty logical to me. So yeah. So sex work in this is – they have brothels. Here is one I really wanted to discuss with you guys, because there’s a line in here where they talk about what’s normal for women, rich young women especially, which is basically that they remain virgins until they’re about to be married. But before marriage, somebody hires a very fancy prostitute who comes and basically has lots of sex with her to figure out exactly how she likes the sexing, and then trains her husband.

Ali: I don’t hate it.

Bree: I have a lot of complicated feelings on it.

Aradia: Yeah.

Bree: Generally speaking, I’m not super pro anything that is virginity until marriage, as a rule.

Ali: Oh yeah. Not pro that, definitely not pro that. I am pro women exploring their bodies and sexuality and figuring out what they like.

Bree: Yeah. Like I think that the idea that it’s like – this whole set up, there are parts of it where I’m like, urghh! It also acknowledges that every woman’s going to have – I mean, every person, let’s be real, every single person – is going to. You can’t be good at sex universally. You can’t just do this. Here’s my five moves and they’re going to work with everybody.

Ali: Thank you. Communication is key.

Aradia: Yeah.

Bree: People have different things that they will like, and they will have different needs and there are different things that will work for them, that wouldn’t have worked for someone else. And so the idea that, you know, I guess we’re – if we’re going to like, you know, send these husbands off to train, I guess tell them what they actually like instead of just giving them generic training. And I do think it de-stigmatizes the idea of virginity somewhat, like these women aren’t being called lesser, because they are sleeping with these bower lads, as they are called.

Ali: Yeah, in fact, it’s like practice.

Bree: It’s considered normalized. And then it’s considered normalized later on in life to have, to to continue to, you know, these, these men have like widows or even women I guess, who just patronize them on the side, and they can get really rich before they retire. So it is something where it’s like not stigmatized for women to visit sex workers later in life, either. It’s considered normal, and they pay to have some places where they take care of everybody. This doesn’t seem to be one of them, though.

Aradia: Yeah, I – there’s like two sides to how I felt about this, because, yeah. Anything where a woman’s virginity is held on some pedestal until legal contract, I’m just like, Ick, put it in the freezer, not happy. But the concept of – and it’s something a little bit like 1% about, I can’t communicate with my spouse. I have to use the intermediary of a hired hand to create communication. Like, that’s very, like, weird.

Ali: But literally, a hired hand.

Aradia: But I do like, love the idea of people’s first sexual encounters being facilitated, and there being a specific professional niche for that. I love that concept. Like, I mean, there’s a lot wrong with the Clan of the Cave Bear Series, but I really liked that part of the world building. Of the concept of sex as being so sacred and unique, that you need people with a talent and ability, and knowledge to, like, facilitate that transition. I like that as a concept in isolation. I don’t like tying it to like, You’re going to get married! More like tying it to like, This is where you’re at in your developmental cycle, and we don’t want you to get hurt your first time. So we’re going to make a ceremony out of it. And having there be sex workers who specialize in that, and then who also specialize in helping a person like, explore their body and find things that they like, and, you know, run you through at least the 100 level number of sex positions, and be like, here’s kind of the stuff you might want to play with as you get to more advanced parts of your sexual career. I loved the set up! I just – Did you have to make marriage the square one? Hmm? Okay.

Ali: Because I’m not like, let’s get sex workers for all 18 year olds, or some shit like that.

Aradia: Sure.

Ali: But I like the idea of there being some kind, like, moment in your life where it’s like, This is normal, noone’s judging you, explore your body. Explore potentially with people who understand what your body might want, like, or are able to gently explore that with, you versus like, here’s some dude who doesn’t know what he’s doing. You don’t know what you’re doing. Panic, have sex while the parents are in the garage. Like, you know what I mean?

Bree: No, I definitely like that idea of somebody who – of it being something that’s special, not because you’re going to be worth less afterwards, but because it’s your introduction to this, you know, new stage of your life where this can be something that you enjoy.

Aradia: Very formative experiences at the beginning.

Bree: You’re going to enjoy it more if it’s, you know, you’re introduced to it in a way that is pleasurable and kind and supportive and respectful and safe.

Ali: Which is, I think, what should be wanted. Yes.

Aradia: And without risk. Right? Also being able to have your first sexual encounters not carrying the risk of disease and pregnancy, because you aren’t doing anything other than like the kiddy pool of like, seeing how this works. You’re not actually playing with fire on a tightrope over the Grand Canyon.

Ali: Yeah. You know, I think I like that part of it. No, I really like everything about it except for the virginity part. Like, okay. Everything else about it – and the like, Having to inform your husband what you like. Maybe teaching you how to advocate for yourself in what you want.

Aradia: Maybe you have, like, a nice threesome together and you, like, practice talking or something.

Bree: Honestly, wouldn’t that be like the best, the way to go?

Ali: Kinda! I mean, women are complicated. There is a little complexity to it. I mean, some more than others, right.

Bree: But like, here’s their user manual and also I’m going to do the home install.

Aradia: Yeah totally. Let me give you a demo.

Ali: But yeah, I like also the investment in figuring out women’s pleasure.

Aradia: Yes, prioritizing pleasure. We love that.

Ali: Yes, we love that.

Aradia: It’s not just for babies. That’s for pleasure. Empowerment.

Ali: Yes, exactly. It’s not just like a means to an end. Pleasure and connection are important.

Aradia: I did think it was interesting that the prostitute age out at age 30. Yeah. That’s how old they have to be before they retire from being sex workers forever.

Ali: I felt a little – as a 30 year old I was, Wow.

Aradia: The last fuckable day.

Ali: That last fuckable day passed, apparently. I thought it was 35. That was –

Bree: No, it’s 30. And this is for men. So like, which is when men become fuckable in fantasy. Right? Come on, let’s be real.

Aradia: I also wish that we’d gotten the impression that, like, the boys also had to get, like, devirginized in the same ceremonial way, right before they got married. Because there’s definitely an implication that it’s only girls’ virginity that’s getting held aside, or that men get to just figure it out. However, I didn’t get the impression that Young Blood boys are also brought to a place like this.

Bree: I mean, presumably young Blood boys are just like, taken aside by the guy who banged their future wife and told how to do it.

Ali: Now that’s a bit awkward.

Aradia: That doesn’t feel equal.

Bree: So it isn’t! And here’s the thing. It’s not supposed to be equal. Because these men age out at 30, because this is supposed to be a world with prejudice against men, where men are subjugated. So this is not fair to men for sure.

Ali: This is what I do like about it, though, is that it’s like, okay, if we’re theoretically introducing women to sex, and they’re like 18 years old. If they were someone who’s 45, I’m going to be like, That’s predatory. I don’t like it.

Aradia: But like with the older women who we’re like hiring studs to just, like, keep them occupied because they’re widows?

Ali: Now that’, hm.

Aradia: Now we’ve got 30 year olds with 70 year olds?

Ali: True, true, true. True.

Bree: And I do think that that is both the point, and something we should be like, Yeah, that’s creepy! It’s creepy both ways.

Ali: I think we need sex workers of all ages.

Aradia: Yes. No ageism in sex work, please.

Ali: I would like a sexually appropriate, age appropriate sex worker if I were to ever hire one. Which, not my bag, but like, you know?

Bree: No. And I do feel like –

Ali: I wouldn’t want to feel like a creep!

Bree: That’s one of the things that, when you actually read a book that gender flips this stuff, it becomes more overt. Because it is very weird of us to think of men like, aging out of attractiveness at 30. That is just not how this works. And like that 70 year old women are still hot and getting, you know, to be sexual, but men are men are expired at 30.

Ali: Here’s my take. I think people actually do get hotter as they get older. That’s my take.

Bree: Definitely not me from my forties saying (laughs).

Ali: But I look at sixty year old women and I’m not like, Oh, that would be something that I would jump on. But I’m looking at them. I’m like, they can get it. Am I wrong?

Aradia: Confidence is so sexy. Knowledge is sexy. Knowing how to exist in yourself is fucking hot. Like, young people don’t have that. I’m sorry. They just don’t .Youth is gawky and awkward.

Ali: Have you talked to a 20 year old recently? Like all the love in the world? Like all the love in the world for Gen Z. But I feel like an older sibling, that’s like, stressed out for them. You know what I mean? To me that’s not hot, because I just feel like I’m in a completely different phase in my life. You know? I just feel like the adult in the room. And to me, that’s not sexy. (laughs)

Bree: Well, no. And I think that that’s something that, you know, we’ve definitely not been trained to find that sexy by society. Because once again, we are looking at these women in these books who have crushes, and the men are all older, even though that’s not what makes sense if men age out of hotness at 30. Except for all of these younger women are still going for older men. Because I think that’s so ingrained, that even when she was writing this, she couldn’t entirely escape it.

Ali: Agreed.

Bree: Which is why I’m begging people not to think that I’m attacking Robert Jordan when I say this stuff is so ingrained, he just can’t escape it. None of us can escape it!

Ali: It’s ingrained in all of us.

Aradia: Yeah, for sure. For sure.

1:32:50 Be the broad, sweeping change you want to see in the world

Ali: Oh my God. Being a writer so stressful. Because you’re constantly kind of like looking for where your biases are, but you don’t know! Because they’re your biases. And then you’re just like, I’m trying to do something that I think might be new. But still, inevitably, people have to build on you. You’re not going to create this world that’s like, perfect. Like, you’re not going to create anything that’s free of your implicit biases. So it’s just like, I’m trying to make a building block for somebody else to maybe run with.

Aradia: Better than what came before. And the kind of thing that helps people do something better after, like you want to be in that progression.

Bree: And I told Ali this before, help create the world that finds your work irrelevant.

Aradia: Yeah, brilliant. I’m not a writer at all, but I definitely have the impulse to be like, Well, how do we make the absolute perfect end result? And like, I get very frustrated with the concept of incremental change, like in any, any pursuit at all. I’m like, No! Go to the end! And it’s just, it’s just not realistic.

Ali: Yeah. Gus and I just talked about this, that incremental change is so frustrating as a young person. Because you’re like, I may never even see the results of my labor, right? There’s so many people that have created incredible change, that did not live to see it. Like they started the ideas, and then maybe got persecuted for having those ideas, and they didn’t get to see the results of what that work was.

Aradia: Right? Or even just the scales wrong. I mean, I just was too cool video the other day about the Voyager expeditions and like, the best picture that we have of Earth – I mean, lots of good pictures – but like Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot, like he didn’t get to see Voyager get out of the interstellar bubble, you know, like he’s the reason we have pale blue dot. But he died before the fucking mission got out of the solar system. I watched another video of these people who are designing a pallet that won’t get launched until like the 2030s. And there’s this old guy being like, I’m not going to get to even see it launch, maybe? As a professional, I’m certainly not going to get to see it arrive at its destination. But I know that I’m part of it and that’s enough. And then of course there’s the Martin Luther King. Like, I’m not going to be there with you when we get to the Promised Land, but we’re fucking going, goddammit.

Ali: So we’re fucking going. I’m going to try to steer the ship in that direction.

Aradia: It’s so hard.

Ali: And truly, it’s like then it feels like the closer and closer we actually are getting, largely – I mean, people are changing, things are shifting. It’s slow. But I honestly think that the more angry people who are opposing that change are, the closer we’re actually getting.

Aradia: Definitely, yeah.

Ali: Because it’s like they know that we’re getting too close to what they don’t want. And so there’s just like this reaction to that change. So yeah, and I mean, even people who are like just breaking generational curses, just going like, you know what? I’m going to be the first in my family to go to therapy, or I’m going to be, you know, the person who’s going to make new mistakes with my children rather than the same mistakes that are being made.Or I’m going to try my best to gentle parent, you know, or like, raise my kids differently or, you know, be the first generation that doesn’t smack their kids, you know, like all of that. You don’t get to see the fruits of that necessarily, but you are affecting generations of people just by doing that.

Aradia: Right. So that whole like, that one little thing, if you could go back in time and change one little thing? You are back in time! Relative to the future. Like, do the one little thing now because there’s a time traveler who wishes they could do that right now, right in the future.

Ali: The decisions that we’re making are affecting way more than just us. And I think that’s hard to remember. And so it’s like if you are taking the time to change your own mind and change like just the minds around you that are receptive to change, right? Or even like just pushing a little bit on the minds that aren’t. I mean, you’re making the world better just by being. And there’s so many more people that are doing that work, than the people who are doing the work that actually the negative work that’s being talked about. But I think, I personally think, it’s to demoralize the people that are doing positive things.

Aradia: For sure.

Bree: It is information warfare. It’s like psychological warfare, to make us feel – like the current stuff with all of these anti-trans bills. It’s to make us feel like there’s this national groundswell of organic pushback, when it is really just like five lawyers and six crazy people in a car. Going from state to state to state with a copy paste bill, making it seem like it’s everywhere.

Ali: Because they’ve got nothing better to do.

Bree: Just slapping them down over and over and over again – They just got slapped down in Florida again – because they’re unconstitutional and insane.

Ali: They’re losing.

Bree: But they’re making us all feel terrible, and it’s terrorizing people in the moment. I mean, my nephew had to spend time, before that bill got stayed in Alabama, where he didn’t know if he was going to be able to get his medication. Like, you know, his health care. And so it’s doing harm. But they are desperate because these people are just – they think that they can fight back, and we have just got to crush them. And so, you know, I think that we’ve got to keep pushing.

Ali: It’s going to happen. But it’s like, yeah, the reason why everything seems so dire and negative is because they want you to be complacent. They want you to feel that it’s dire and negative.

Bree: And hopeless.

Aradia: Yeah, hopeless is important.

Ali: Because that is just as harmful – Like when we’re talking about the environment, feeling like it is hopeless, and not wanting to do anything because it’s hopeless, is the same as being a climate change denier in terms of impact.

Aradia: Yeah, apathy and inaction gets you to the same place.

Ali: It’s the same. So it’s like it’s taking the time to – I mean, it’s not going to be broad sweeping change. Broad, sweeping change doesn’t happen overnight, right? Broad, sweeping change takes a long time. And so it’s just working on yourself and working on the people in your immediate circle as much as you can. That’s it. That’s all we all can do. We don’t need, you know, all just Martin Luther King’s. We need people who are handing out pamphlets. That’s it. Those are the people who are making the most impact. We need one leader, but we need a lot of people handing out pamphlets, so. And they want you to feel like the world is hopeless. I had this whole realization, like last night, because I was really depressed last night.

Bree: No, this is great, though. And I want to read something from the book.

Ali: Please!

Bree: Because this is hilarious, that we are having this conversation, that we were brought here by the sex work. Because literally Sarra has this realization while she’s standing in this brothel. She had enough and more than enough to give without ever feeling any lack. The cause for which she was determined to fight would never, could never, burn her to ashes; she was an Ambrai, Mageborn, inheritor of magic that flamed forever. It would strike her as singularly amusing in later years that these noble sentiments had first swept over her in the middle of a whorehouse taproom.

Ali: (bursts into laughter)

Aradia: Discussions about sex work will lead you to the core of motivation.

Bree: And so we have decided to tell you all to hope, actively hope, because we are standing in the virtual middle of a whorehouse tap room right now –

Ali: In the middle of a whorehouse tap room!

Bree: Feeling extremely noble. I guess there is something about this particular brothel that really brings out the –

Ali: It really brings the hope, you know?

Bree: Rebellion.

Ali: Everyone’s just kind of vibing. Well, I was super depressed, and then I got high last night. And then I turned to Gus and then I went, I just realized they want us to feel this way.

Aradia: Yeah.

Ali: And then I was just – it kind of fixed something I think, mentally, where I was like – I mean, not permanently probably, but like, just for a bit – I was like, Oh, best thing I can do is realize that the people I’m trying to fight against want me to feel hopeless. And so I’m not going to as much as I can, but it’s okay.

Bree: And I struggle with it. For people who don’t know, I live in Alabama, which means I have had my rights pretty violently curtailed. Like, I mean, I have spent time having to figure out if I can get prosecuted, because they’re threatening to prosecute us if we give gas money to someone to leave the state for a legal abortion. So I am living in a pretty fucking dystopian moment, and there are times that it is really hard emotionally, because it’s just that they have taken rights – my bodily autnonomy has been taken away by my state, even though I live in a country where I’m supposed to have it. And I do have times where it’s just. I feel hopeless.

But fuck them. They don’t actually get to tell me that my body doesn’t belong to me. And I live in Alabama, which is the cradle of the civil rights movement. So many things happened in Birmingham. The people who fought for their rights before were not going to – I mean, they literally, the day after Roe versus Wade fell, they got out there and they said, We don’t let them tell us that we don’t have rights. We didn’t before and we’re not going to do it now. And so God bless the black women, civil rights leaders down here who just came out the next day and said, don’t you dare fucking give up. And so I’m not going to.

Aradia: Marathon, not a sprint.

Ali: Yeah, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. And it’s okay if you need to take a breath. As someone who’s run a marathon, which always makes me feel like a dick when I say that. But like, you know, I had major armpit chafing at mile 21, right? I had major bad armpit chafing, and then I accidentally rubbed icy hot on it. So, like, every now and then you get icy hot armpits and like, that’s okay. You just have to keep running.

Bree: I love you, Ali.

Ali: You’re just going to put some air under those things and do your best. Right? It’s okay for limping to the end. It’s fine.

Bree: So that is what we are doing. We are going to hope. Sarra’s going to hope.

Ali: We’re all hoping.

Aradia: But I feel like Sarra is taking upon herself quite a bit more sense of responsibility and agency than is realistic for any one person. But since she’s a protagonist with magic, it’s going to work out fine.

Ali: That feels very realistic of an 18 year old, though.

Bree: Yeah, she’s –

Ali: I’m going to be the one.

Bree: What she decides is that they all are hers now, like hers to protect and hers to aid.

Aradia: Right? They’re like, Don’t join the organization. You’re too young. She’s like, You’re all mine now.

Bree: I am going to save you all and I’m going to do what it takes.

Aradia: Girl!

Ali: That was me at 18 though. move, move. Like, I’m going to be the one to fix the problem.

Aradia: Mood! Mood. Yes. I was 18. I’m like, I’m going to go to college and be the smartest person ever and save everyone from all the natural disasters. That was me at 18.

Ali: Yeah. And then you meet all the other 18 year olds who are really special from their hometowns, who are the smart one at their hometown. And you’re like, okay, So I’m like, with my people. But also that’s a big wake up call.

Aradia: Like, Oh, oh, this is not quite as unique as I thought, but I don’t know that Sarra is going to have that moment. I think she has two people in the world that are going to compete with her on that, and they’re both her sisters.

1:44:41 Music break, and Back into the chapter? Maybe?

Bree: Yeah. So Sarra is in this brothel and she’s trying to figure out like, you know, Orlin’s pretending that he’s going to buy her someone for her first time. And she’s trying to figure out, should she take Taig or the Minstrel, and she’ll like, take them and then we’ll get him to safety. And someone who she assumes is the minstrel comes over and starts hitting on her in a kind of gross way, which is her like second or third mistaken identity, she really cannot find this guy.

Ali: She’s got a lot of face issues. She has no facial recognition.

Bree: So the guy who’s skeezing on her suddenly gets punched and slammed into a table, and our actual minstrel finally arrives, and Sarra is faced again with the memorable line, Women are like peaches, friend. Never pluck them underripe. So Collan is against skeezing on younger women.

Ali: And I like the sentiment, but the Women equaling ripe, is always going to be a major ick for me.

Aradia: Double thumbs down.

Bree: Okay, Collan, not so sure you’re doing your best intro here. So points up for not being about younger women, points down for anything that has to do with the word ripe.

Aradia: Do not compare women to fruit, please.

Ali: blegh.

Bree: Then he says she’s not worth a tin cup piece, which maybe more thumbs down, but.

Aradia: At least it’s appropriate to the setting, given that it’s a brothel.

Bree: So this is Sarra and the minstrel meeting for the second time, and it does not go great. She tries to drag him out of the whorehouse, so that they can, like, get them the horses and get them to safety.

Ali: Which, if you’re watching, and you don’t know what’s going on. How fucking weird is this scene?

Bree: There is the kid in the kitchen, who is watching as first they start to leave and then the fight breaks out. So the minstrel is trying to get back to the fight because he wants to punch things. And Sarra is hanging from his elbow, trying to drag him out.

Aradia: As though she’s just like, Fuck me, please! It’s so fun.

Bree: She’s extremely self-conscious of the virginal franticness, the picture of virginal franticness that she must present here.

Ali: She’s saying, I’m going to get dick, so help me God.

Aradia: And so Collan is not aware of the fact that the whole thing is so he has a cover to escape.

Bree: Yeah, he doesn’t really know.

Aradia: So he’s just as unaware as Sarra. They are both equally confused about everyone’s, all the adults’ intentions in the room.

Ali: So he thinks that she really is desperately trying to fuck him. She’s like, I paid for you!

Bree: There’s like, Taig and Orlin, who are members of the Rising and know what’s going on. And then there’s the Minstrel, who’s just, like, running around being chaotic. And then there’s Sarra, who is also running around being chaotic. So yeah, they are at cross-purposes. She finally tells him her name and he’s like, Oh, oh, the one who accused me of assault. Thanks a lot, bitch.

Ali: Oh, I really want to go with you now.

Aradia: Wait, so Collan’s not part of the Rising?

Bree: He does not seem to be.

Aradia: Oh, I totally thought he was.

Ali: Taig kind of implies he will be.

Bree: They say something like, if he keeps on the path he is, he will be eventually.

Ali: Yeah, he will be. But he isn’t.

Aradia: Oh okay. So they’re kind of keeping an eye on him as he wanders around being a rogue agent of chaos.

Bree: It is interesting that Agatine and Orlin Renne both are on a boat with him, and Lilen Ostin, too. It is interesting that he keeps being around all of these people who we know are part of the secret organization somehow.

Aradia: Yeah, guilt by association. I mean, he’s got the loot. Clearly –

Bree: They may know something he doesn’t know.

Ali: I think he’s being kind of soft recruited.

Bree: Yeah. So he does want to be friends with Taig. Which, I mean, they both like to punch things and hang out in brothels. So that may just be natural association, I will say also, the brothel mistress kindly offered her boys to Orlin Renne, too. So there is clearly no issue here.

Aradia: Do like that, like the casual gayness. That’s good.

Ali: Are there women at this brothel? Or is this all dudes.

Bree: It does not seem to be.

Ali: Okay.

Bree: Seems to be all boys, but anyone can, I mean.

Aradia: Well, given how often fantasy seems like, we’ll show a brothel that is entirely women draped in absolutely nothing? Yeah. I’m okay with there just being only men in this one. I’m going to assume that there are some lady brothels elsewhere and just be fine.

Ali: Yeah, how we always only show the women brothels? In every fantasy ever?

Bree: I do feel like that was sort of deliberate.

Aradia: And it just has to be random tits that don’t have a face attached. And there’s just random tits at the edge of the frame. Yeah, that’s. That’s important.

Ali: I thought about this a lot. You could tell your family, like, I’m on Game of Thrones!, but you’re the naked girl in the back. Yeah.

Aradia: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I want to imagine this one, there’s just, like, random, you know, bulges and ass cheeks, just sort of like in the edge of the frame, that the camera’s having to get around in order to, you know, zoom in on our actual action scenes.

Bree: Just half naked boys everywhere.

Ali: Yeah. I want schlongs helicoptering around.

Aradia: Helicoptering for sure. For sure. Yeah. Like they turn around so fast, they think it was whiplash.

Ali: They’re whipping back and forth.

Bree: So eventually Collan decides the only way to get out of here is to kidnap her. Fake kidnap her.

Aradia: I’m so confused. The whiplash with this child.

Ali: That confused me as well. He is already in a lot of trouble and trying to outrun the law. And then he was like, Let me do something that will get the law on my ass, even more?

Aradia: And he’s like, So you accused me of assault. And I don’t appreciate that. So I’m going to actually fake kidnap you and, because that’s okay. Like I, what? What?

Bree: Well, I think he’s more, he’s like, Don’t accuse me of bad things I haven’t done! I’ve done plenty of bad things.

Ali: Now I’m going to do a bad thing for real!

Aradia: I’ll give you something to accuse me of crimes about!

Bree: Because he does later say that he has worse things on his rap sheet. So he’s clearly trouble. A little bit of trouble. So I think that this whole scene is just chaos. Sarra has learned that maybe she should not throw herself chaotically into Rising operations in progress.

Aradia: Prediction: She will not learn anything from this.

Bree: Main characters really never learn this lesson, right?

Ali: As someone who kind of is starting to identify as a Sarra. She will learn absolutely nothing from that. This will happen again.

Bree: So, Ali, you recently read the part in Winter’s Heart in Wheel of Time, where there’s some kidnapping and spanking. We just got some kidnapping and spanking! I was like, oh, boy, Ali is gonna –

Aradia: I noticed there was a spank.

Ali: Was there a spank? Who spanked who?

Aradia: Yes. He smacked her once.

Bree: He smacked her on the ass once.

Aradia: To make her scream and then it’s like –

Bree: Because she wasn’t like, acting kidnapped enough, and he was like, I’m gonna swatch her on the ass.

Ali: What is with the nineties and spanking. Can we actually – I was not very old in the nineties. I was very much a child. What was going on? Was there a national spanking conversation that was going on? What was happening..

Bree: Honestly? I was a teenager. If somebody was having spanking conversations, they weren’t having it with me, which, thankfully? I was 14 when this book came out.

Ali: Someone who was an adult in the nineties, please let us know what was going on. Because truly, so many books I’ve read that were like, made in the nineties, have spanking in them at this point. What was going on.

Bree: So yeah, yeah, there’s – They have a absolute shittastic – literally, at one point he knocks her into some shit in a –

Aradia: In a pile of horse poop.

Bree: Yeah. So they have a shit tastic meeting.

Ali: He slips in shit at one point, too, which cracked me up.

Bree: He whacks her on the ass. She bites his knee, they get, they kidnap, you know, get out of town and gallop far away. Then finally he lets her go and she’s like, Aren’t you taking me with you? And he’s like, Oh, very flattered. But no. So apparently she just really wants some adventure, this girl. They have got to let her out of class, or whatever school, or whatever she’s doing.

Aradia: And you see it in her little sister. Her little sister is not supposed to be there. We learned that she stowed away on this mission. She’s only 13, and they’re letting her run around like a little Arya Stark or something. Just a little wildcat you can’t contain. And it’s totally expected.

Bree: Stowed away on the ship, came on this trip, somehow got down to the brothel, got locked in the closet by one of the people in the Rising, the rebellion.

Aradia: How do you expect her older sister to be any easier to control? Like, come on.

Ali: These Ambrai girls.

Bree: These two are clearly the chaos agents of the family, which is so funny because Glenin is like super, super organized fascist lady.

Aradia: Yeah. All the order went to Glenin.

Ali: I know, but these girls, they’ve got a lot of audacity.

Aradia: Yes, they do.

Bree: They are made of an audacity.

Aradia: And speaking of audacity. The maid is in the resistance? Like, that’s some fucking audacity. That is some fucking audacity. That Else Grinwell, the thirsty maid, is also like the spy girl. Like whaaaat?

Ali: I love it! I love everything about it! I think that that improves everything.

Bree: Yes. The horny maid has been keeping an eye on Sarra her whole life basically. Basically been the one who’s making sure nothing happens. So I love her even more.

Ali: Lusty spy woman? Yes, and.

Aradia: Yes, She’s just James Bond. Yes. Keep going.

Ali: Continue.

Bree: Yes. So Sara’s walking back to town, having been abandoned by the Minstrel, after he says,It’s true what they say about a minstrels hands.

Aradia: Okay. Saucy! Saucy.

Bree: Saucy. Maybe he needs to revisit the underripe conversation here. He’s now treading a little close to being inappropriate with younger women.

Ali: How old is he?

Bree: He’s probably about Taig’s age, maybe a little older?

Ali: So maybe like 25?

Bree: Yeah, he’s probably about Taig’s age. I think that I can figure it out, but I don’t know exactly.

Ali: So she’s a little young.

Aradia: But also they have some antagonism going at this point, so it could just be a gibe to be annoying, which like, would be fine.

Bree: Yeah, yeah, he could just be fucking with her.

Aradia: It didn’t feel flirty, it felt antagonistic, but I don’t know.

Ali: Yeah. I couldn’t decide if this was meant to be like a meet cute or not.

Bree: Well, I mean, I mean, this is their second enemy’s meeting.

Aradia: My first impulse is to ship them and say, Oh, clearly sassy Sarra is the She from his whole thing.

Ali: We’ve been looking for the She!

Aradia: That is my first impulse. But I also don’t – I want that to not be what happens, so I’m trying to not manifest it.

Bree: Well, we’ve met – I meant to say he’s introduced with three sisters and the only thing we know about She is that she’s a Blooded lady. But all three of these sisters are.

Ali: Well, they only get younger from here.

Bree: No, they. I mean, that is true, if it’s not fascist Glenin. Can you imagine him and fascist Glenin meeting? They are like order and chaos.

Ali: I feel like you just guslit us just now.

Aradia: Yeah, but I mean, seriously, like the snarky back and forth where they don’t like each other at first, is like, that is classic young teen romance.

Ali: Enemies to lovers!

Aradia: That is so classic. And it’s like, I can see it, I’m shipping it. I am, I’m shipping it.

Ali: Oh you’re officially, you’re officially all aboard.

Aradia: I don’t like it. I just can’t help but see the logic of it.

Ali: If I don’t look at the age difference, if I don’t look at their ages, I like it.

1:56:29 End of chapter, speculation time!

Bree: I will say that Sarra’s entire section ends. You know, we’ve been ending with a thematic mike drop, you know. So Collan didn’t remember the wind anymore. Glenin finished her section by finishing reading The Weaver’s big book and basically promising her tutor that he was going to weave her. She was going to weave his like legacy into fascism

Ali: (makes vomiting noises)

Bree: Sarra’s section ends, But the promised explanations were not forthcoming. Fooled with a sleeping draught in the wine, as she drifted off her last thought was that she’d break every one of that fake Rosvenir’s fingers in three places each if he ever put his damned “Minstrel’s hands” on her again.

Aradia: See, that gives me passionate hands, that she really wants.

Ali: It’s giving, it’s giving….

Bree: I feel like it’s maybe?

Ali: Maybe? Get out. Because there’s a part of me that, at the beginning was like, how does he relate? Like, is he a half sibling? And the only time I ship incest apparently is with House of the Dragon. So we can’t do that here.

Bree: Well, what we know from this family tree is that literally everybody and nobody is related. We know Rosvenir is not his real name, so it doesn’t appear on that family tree so far. But that doesn’t matter. We don’t know what his real last name is.

Ali: But his mother was someone important. Collan.

Bree: It seems like it. I mean, a lot of important people are paying a lot of attention to him. So something’s going on.

Ali: So he wasn’t four when the house burning happened, because then he would have been younger. Because he was four when the house incident happened, when they, like, burned the house with his siblings inside, which I had assumed was during that, like, the horrible.

Bree: Time wise, it’s not when Ambrai burned down, no.

Aradia: Yeah. Years before.

Ali: It’s not adding up.

Bree: Because when he’s escaping, when he escapes and he’s in Lady Lilen’s kitchen after they like, whisk him away to keep his jewels intact, that’s when Gorynel Desse is like, Auvry Fairan just divorced his wife. So that’s your timeline. He was like 14 or something, roughly, when Ambrai was destroyed.

Ali: The math did not math.

Bree: Yeah.

Ali: So it was another drive by burning.

Bree: And that’s part of why she laid these out this way, I think. She’s giving you an idea of, like, where their stories interweave.

Ali: Yeah. So is it just a different random burning moment? But it seems like his mom was someone significant. So, like, was she a part of this family? And they were victims of some random act of aggression?

Bree: Let me go look. In the back of this book there is – because this isn’t like something they say anywhere. They do have a thing. Let me see if I can find it, with how many families there are.

Ali: I feel like this last name his is going to be a reveal.

Aradia: When we get his real last name. Yeah

Ali: Oh yeah. It’s going to be big. So it’s got to be the last name of someone we already know, right? Somewhere in these characters. We’re going to read his last name.

Bree: So basically, as of the 38th census, which is what they – they take them every 25 years. And so sometime within the last 25 years – there were 2.7 million people in this country.

Ali: Jeezus.

Bree: There were 27 Blood names and 116,000 Blood people. So there’s quite a few Blood names. We’ve seen maybe five or six or seven of them on that family tree. So there’s more out there. It’s 116,000 Blood, 300,000 First Tier, 450,000 Second Tier, 690,000 Third Tier, 620,000 Fourth Tier, and then 600,000 slaves, roughly.

Ali: I’m calling it. I’m calling it. He’s Blood.

Bree: You think he’s Blood?

Ali: Yeah, gotta be.

Aradia: Yeah It makes the most sense, that he’s some family that they thought died out, or long lost heir. You know, I mean he got given the name of a family that died out as his fake name. Wouldn’t it be hilarious if it was just the wrong died out name, or something?

Ali: Or if that was his real name? I’m just saying, if we hear of a family that died out, if we’re like, Oh, tragic. They all died. That’s it. That’s him.

Aradia: Yeah. The next dead family we hear about is his birth family.

Ali: Yeah. Next dead family.

Bree: So we know what you guys are looking for, dead families.

Ali: We are on the hunt. Yes. For a dead family. Yes, we are on the prowl. It’s going to be found. We’re going to find this fuck’s last name, before he even –

Aradia: Before he does.

Ali: Does. Yeah.

Bree: Oh, well, speaking of all of this, one thing we forgot to mention. Glenin was offered a wedding present by the council. And she requested that they abolish the Blood and Tiers system.

Ali: Oh, yeah. We didn’t even talk about that!

Ali: We skipped the, like, very important political move of Glenin.

Bree: And so Glenin’s political move was to, yes, abolish the existing fascist system. So what do you guys think?

Ali: Well, I mean, we asked for a table for our – we asked for a board game table and just had everyone contribute money toward that. But I mean this is cool, too. Wow. Yeah. I mean, that’s kind of wild. I didn’t know you could do that. I didn’t know you could ask for the upheaval of an entire society for your wedding present. I should have registered for something else.

Bree: I mean, I guess when you’re – So this is an indication of how important this First Councillor, who was basically in charge of everything, thinks her son’s marriage is, I think.

Ali: Could I have asked for comprehensive prison reform, did I miss an opportunity?

Bree: I mean, maybe. And now it’s your fault that you didn’t.

Ali: I mean, if you don’t ask, you don’t get it.

Bree: So here’s what we’re going to need you all to ask for, for future weddings. Ali, you got some coming up this week. So.

Ali: Exactly. I’ve got like three weddings coming up. We’ll register.

Aradia: Yeah, I thought it was an interesting move for her to tie it to her marriage with this guy for sure. Like to have it be not just something that they do when they’re in power, but something they do like as a wedding thing. Like to tie in with the, like, social propaganda of, like, Let’s all celebrate the royals wedding. Let’s all hosts watch parties to, like, see how the engagement reception goes down. Like all of this. It’s interesting to tie such a massive social upheaval to such a publicity spectacle. And it does, it gives me smoke and mirrors. It gives me this is how we sneak the fascism in under the fanfare of getting rid of the old system. Because, like, yeah, we talked last time, we don’t like fantasy eugenics. But you don’t just overhaul a system like that overnight with big, shiny fanfare. There’s going to be some mess, there’s going to be some darkness, there’s going to be some issues to work out. Like this is going to be a work of a government for years, not a single celebratory thing. Unless you have some other system that you’re ready to just pop out with no consultation and no input from the governed. You know it’s, yeah.

Bree: I love that you brought up the royal wedding and the watch parties and the spectacle, because I think that that’s like a really good – they’re having these parties all over the place, all the Blood. But so like, who does this? All the people who are celebrating, there are – I just said, there are 100,000, roughly, Blood people in here, and they’re the ones who are losing the most with this move. And there are like what, 2 million people, who are like, you know, second tier or below. So these people who did not have a lot of value and are suddenly going to be considered equal. So I do think it’s very much a, Here. Watch this fabulous wedding. And now we’re going to give all of the peasants a treat and we’re going to take it away from the rich people, you know, very, very – That was astute. I think that that’s exactly what they’re doing. They’re saying, Now all of you who aren’t special like us are going to get a special treat.

Ali: Mm hmm. And we have the numbers.

Bree: Yes. Definitely.

Ali: Then they like us now because we did something for them. So now we have the numbers because we’ve all the people, and now we have this political vacuum that we just created.

Bree: Yes.

Ali: What happens in a political vacuum? Usually in a country, someone’s going to fill it.

Bree: And Glenin, lovely, lovely, modest Glenin, could have asked for houses or riches. And instead she asked for all of you to be equal, just like her.

Ali: How sweet. How lovely.

Aradia: So that she can be the government, because that is her ambition.

Ali: Yes, exactly. She abolished the government, made herself look good while doing it. And then it’s like, okay, now we have a political vacuum. Guess who’s going to fill it? It’s me and my weaver friends.

Bree: I honestly do support women’s wrongs just a tiny bit with Glenin.

Aradia: It’s hard not to support, yeah.

Ali: It’s pretty brilliant. She’s not stupid, like she did it in a way – she really just completely destroyed a government. We’re talking about incremental change. She really just, for her wedding, destroyed a government entirely.

Bree: Yeah. That has been in existence for 38 generations!

Aradia: Just knocks it over on her way to the cake.

Ali: Yes. And she just registered for political change, and then she’s like, great. Now I and my friends are all going to take over. Cool. And she did it in a way that endeared her to 2 million people.

Bree: Yeah. So basically over two thirds of the population.

Ali: She’s fucking Evita right now.

Bree: Yeah. Great comparison.

Ali: That’s what she reminds me of. It’s Evita. I mean, it didn’t really end well for Evita.

Bree: She is Evita. And so how do we think Punch Card Lady is going to feel about this? Who has – Let’s also, like, go back, and I’m going to say one thing that I feel like these books do not hold up great with. There is a lot of fatphobia. There’s a lot of body shaming stuff, and I don’t think we’ve seen it as much in this series yet. It will occasionally pop up. It pops up more in her other series, and it’s something that definitely didn’t age well for me. But, you know, Punch Card First Councillor is often described as short and squat and, generally terms that are not particularly complimentary. She’s plain. She’s like a brick house. She’s just generally not, you know, refined or not like wonderful Blooded Glenin, who was lovely and lithe and graceful and beautiful. So I feel like there’s a lot of – is this the daughter in law this woman wants?

Aradia: (laughs)

Ali: No! She fucked up!

Aradia: Yeah, I bet she is regretting ever taking Auvry into her service at this point, because of now what’s happened to her son.

Ali: I feel like they’ve convinced her this is all her idea.

Aradia: Definitely. She’s like, How did I get here? I thought that I was in control for the last 15 years. But why do I hate everything?

Bree: So she thinks she’s got control of Glenin, and we clearly do not agree with her.

Ali: I don’t agree at all.

Aradia: Glenin might not have made her full move yet, Glenin might still be in her dormant waiting mode, but like, she’s in waiting mode, she’s not dormant, not for real.

Ali: Oh, no. Because now they have a vacuum. Now she has an opportunity.

Aradia: Yeah. So it’s going to be when the wedding happens. So that hasn’t happened yet. We’re building up to that moment.

Ali: The brilliant thing is, though, she’s married to her son, so any power grabbing that she does benefits her son as well. So it’s going to look more natural. It’s going to look like, oh, well, I would want him to have this anyway.

Bree: Consolidating power for, you know, the First Councillor’s grandchild. Right. She has some room to maneuver in there. But I guess it’s going to be, how soon this First Councillor wants to give up power to the next generation. And I can’t imagine it’s – I mean, we just watched this coronation, you know, at what? How old is Charles? 80? Is Glenin going to wait until she’s 80?

Ali: Good fuck.

Aradia: Yeah. No, because definitely this was – this First Councillor Murder Punch Card Lady is described in all kinds of very unflattering terms, which would imply – and she’s very small minded, she’s very petty, she’s very obsessed with her immediate prestige. She is not going to be abdicating before her dying breath. Like, absolutely not. No way.

Ali: Like Queen Elizabeth.

Aradia: Absolutely. She’s going to be there, like half senile and like, shitting herself. I’m going now. Give me the box!

Bree: You’re going to have to, like, invent new jubilees.

Aradia: Which means that Glenin is going to have to overthrow her mother in law, which shouldn’t really be particularly hard, but she’s going to have to do it.

Ali: Well, it’s one person.

Aradia: Or kill her.

Ali: I mean, really, all that she has to do is kill her.

Aradia: Yeah, basically. But she can probably do it with her mind at this point.

Ali: And make it look like it wasn’t – like it was natural.

Aradia: Yeah, like an aneurysm. She’s an old lady. Just.

Ali: I mean, she’s magic. Do they have that ability?

Aradia: I would think so. I mean, Glenin’s strength of personality will probably manifest the ability if it doesn’t exist already.

Ali: I mean, apparently you can just make her sad.

Bree: We’ve definitely seen – We’ve heard about healer Mages, so I’m assuming healer have the ability to impact your physiology somehow. So if that’s a skill you have, you probably can do the opposite with it, right?

Aradia: Right.

Ali: Yeah. Well, I mean, it’s like in Wheel of Time. Healers, the Yellows, are also the best torturers.

Aradia: Yeah. Imean, it makes sense. You know, how the human body works. You don’t have to waste time with parts that won’t break down easily. You can go right for the most easily broken ones.

Ali: Yeah, Semirhage is a doctor.

Aradia: Yeah, totally.

Bree: There you go.

Ali: Yeah. I’m feeling like mother in law’s not long for this world. And I feel like it’s going to be a passing thing, where they’re like, Oh, she died of getting pregnant and being sad. Like something like that. That apparently seems to be the way.

Bree: We love dying of sadness.

Ali: Yeah. I feel like it’s going to be, we’ll know, that Glenin did it. We’ll know, like in our hearts, we’ll know Glenin was behind it, because apparently she is Boss B, But I feel like that mother in law’s gone.

Bree: Glenin is currently girl bossing at an appropriate and exact distance from the sun.

Ali: Cailet’s next will like – you know that’s my assumption I’m just assuming we get Cailet next – so at some point in there in passing, someone’s got to be like, You know she died, the First Councillor died of the flu, isn’t that weird?

Aradia: Yeah, totally. Just woke up dead one day. Mmh! Moving on.

Ali: Now I want to know where these cousins are, though. Those cousins, it’s a mystery.

2:12:25 Wrap up and looking ahead to next week

Bree: That is definitely a question. I’m going to leave this. I’m going to start to wrap this up here. I’m going to leave that for hopefully our wonderful listeners to come tell us on the discord, which you will find the link to in our description. Where do you think those cousins are? And is Glenin’s wedding present awesome? And what are you going to get abolished for your wedding? I’m putting this on all of us now.

Ali: Yeah. What are we – what reforms are we making for our wedding? Now that we talked about incremental change and how it helps? Fuck that. Actually, we can register for societal change. How amazing.

Bree: Great. So yes, everybody please come and chat with us about Sarra. If you ship it, if all of your thoughts on incremental change and sex work and everything else, we will be hanging out on the discord. I have my family tree, expanded family tree there. I will happily answer questions about who’s related to who. And for next week, we are reading the Cailet section, which is pages 153 to 206 in the e-book. So get ready.

Ali: Oh, look at me being right.

Bree: You are being very right. This is our fourth and last of our introductory things. So after Cailet, we’re going to part two of the book, which is where it just starts off. It rip roars.

Ali: Shit’s going down in part two!

Aradia: Boy, Oh boy, oh, boy.

Ali: I got to get excited. Okay. I didn’t know she was the last one.

Bree: Yeah, shit’s going to pop off!

Aradia: I’m getting ever more excited. This is very fun.

Ali: This is convincing me even more that this is some kind of weird family feud. And now I am worried that shipping it means I’m shipping incest, which again, I will only do in House of the Dragon.

Bree: I mean, I’m not going to tell you either way.

Aradia: I’m just going to own my mistakes. I’m just going to own it.

Bree: I mean, it could be that they are siblings. It could be that they’re cousins. It could be we literally never find out who Collan is. It could be anything in between.

Ali: Love it.

Bree: Oh, fantasy. I wish it were possible. I wish that where it falls in that spectrum had to do with whether or not you should ship them. But, you know, fantasy gonna fantasy.

Ali: Fantasy gonna fantasy.

Aradia: Gluttons for punishment. That’s us.

Ali: Thank you so much for listening. If you want to keep gabbing with us, our social media and contact details, like we said, are in the episode description. Until next time, have a very nuanced day!

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