Maypole of Death: Episode Notes

Ruins of Ambrai by Melanie Rawn

Welcome to episode 4 of the Hot Nuance Book Club, where we are tackling the Cailet section of the intro of The Ruins of Ambrai (pages 154-208).Here is where we open up the worldbuilding firehose! Aradia and Ali continue to send Gorynel Dessee to jail over his manipulation of children’s memories, much to teenage-Bree’s chagrin. The bad guys clearly took notes in Evil 101 because they built a secret base in a volcano. Caitlet loses her book money, and gains insights that are confusing.

== Buy the Ebook ==
Barnes & Noble:

Once you’re caught up, come hang with us on our Discord server and tell us all of your thoughts!

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

== Follow Us ==


Ali: Welcome to the Hot Nuance Book Club, a podcast in which a novelist, a screenwriter and a podcaster walk into a book, diving into its craft and impact, in their mission to bring nuance back. I’m Ali and I am a screenwriter and a podcaster, co-host of Wheel Takes podcast and writer of a Rugrats episode, and I am also the co-creator of the Grinwell Cup, a annual March Madness bracket on who is the hottest character in the Wheel of Time, that takes place on Twitter.

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

Bree: And I am Bree, also known as one half of the bestselling sci fi fantasy romance author Kit Rocha. My most recent project was the Mercenary Librarians trilogy with Tor, and I am recently digging into writing Horny Dragon Book 2! And I’m really excited, because Horny Dragon Book 1, which is actually called Consort of Fire, comes out in November.

Aradia: Ooh!

Ali: Oh my gosh, I’m so excited!

Aradia: Excellent.

Ali: Currently we are nuancing our way through the Ruins of Ambrai. Umbra. Ambrian. Um. Amray. Ambrai. One day I’ll get it right. So if you haven’t read that yet, go do that and come back when you have. For the rest of you: let’s break it down now.

Bree: It is time to climb into Bree’s time travel machine. Here at Bree’s Mostly Reliable Time Travel Adventures we are asking you to keep your hands and feet inside the car as we go back to 1994. (swooshing sound effect) Currently the first season of ER is airing, the channel tunnel between London and France has just opened, letting you travel between the two countries in 35 minutes.

Aradia: I’ve done that.

Bree: I have, too. It is actually pretty cool.

Aradia: It’s so cool.

Bree: Jerry’s guide to the World Wide Web launched in January.

Ali: Adorable.

Bree: In April, they rebranded it to the slightly better known Yahoo. Janet Evanovich has recently burst into the mystery scene with One for the Money, the first of 29 and counting books about Stephanie Plum. And I had to just go look it up: Dirty Thirty comes out in October, so she’s still going! And in November of 1994, Melanie Rawn introduced us to a redheaded minstrel, a cunning baby fascist, her sassy younger sister, and now a desert dwelling orphan. Welcome to the Ruins of Ambrai by Melanie Rawn. Let’s go!

Ali: I’m really admiring this family tree that you made for us. Color coded and everything.

Aradia: It grows!

Bree: It grows. I will say, I have noticed I have a mistake in the family tree, this section reminded me is a mistake. So I have to fix the Lilen Ostin thing. I have her in the wrong generation.

Ali: Unforgivable.

Bree: But this was a very complicated family tree. I was trying to assemble and color code in Photoshop. And if you are on our Discord, this will be posted in the references section, and it gives you a little bit of help figuring out the many, many families we have met so far in this chapter. The biggest one is the Ostins. And boy, do we get a lot of Ostin family drama.

Aradia: So many people with so many different dramas.

Ali: Kind of reminds me of my family, to be honest.

Bree: Yeah, it is a complicated, mixed family, with lots of cousins and step sisters, and uncles. and everybody is, you know, adopted foundlings and –

Ali: Imagine having to wedding plan.

Aradia: Oh god.

Ali: I mean, my family clocks in at about 90, I think on last count?

Bree: Oh my gosh. That’s a lot.

Ali: And I’m like, that one alone was an endeavor, a stressful endeavor. But I can’t imagine what, 3000, I think they said or something like that, live in one house?

Bree: The whole family has several thousand. Yeah. There’s like a thousand that just live at this main place.

Ali: An introvert’s nightmare.

Aradia: And she takes her matriarch-like duties very, very seriously. She has to know everyone and connect with everyone, to know everyone’s birthday. And yeah, how would an introvert survive?

Bree: Yes, she is Lady Lilen, who we first met, as you recall, when our magic mystery man tried to bring Collan to her. And he was like, there. She is a First Daughter Prime, as we discussed, which is when you’re the First Daughter of a First Daughter of a First Daughter of a First Daughter. So basically she has got all of the inheritance, the bulk of the inheritance for many generations. And with it all of the responsibilities. And she takes them seriously, which I think that we have some implication that not everybody does, but she does. So every single fifth, sixth, ninth cousin, who falls under her name, she will let them come and live there as long as they make themselves nominally useful.

Aradia: Right. And so it goes from, like she’s got a thousand people in her estate normally, and then it goes up to 3000 because of financial hardship that gets imposed. And she won’t turn anyone away.

Bree: Because Scraller tried to put them out of business, as we discussed in the first one. Yeah. So it swelled up to – she started with a thousand and it did swell up to 3000 because she can’t say no.

Aradia: Exhausting.

0:05:58 Start of chapter discussion

Bree: So yeah. So let’s start off with part one. I actually wrote some little summaries this time, so I can remind myself what happened.

Ali: It kind of feels like the dating scene in the Ostin area would be pretty rough. Like you’d need just like in Iceland, how they have that app to make sure that the person you’re dating isn’t too closely related to you.

Bree: It is definitely a complex situation there. You’ve got like, you know, they’ve all got the same name, but are you my first cousin or my 15th cousin, you know?

Ali: Do they call it Ostincest or something like that?

Bree: They would need – there’s a joke later on in this book somewhere about how long you have to internship to get to join the census because of how messed up genealogy is.

Aradia: Like six years of training to even junior clerk status or something. It’s ridiculous.

Bree: Yeah. Okay, so we get a little back story in part one on Cailet. Who is the tiny baby who was born. Maichen Ambrai’s daughter. So Sarra’s baby sister. And she was a tiny baby who was born and then sort of left there as an orphan when they swept Sarra off to hand her off to the people in Sheve. She was raised as an orphan cousin and a very average little kid, except for we get hints that she’s got super powerful magic that our friendly neighbor Gandalf has warded away to hide. So this is the magic baby.

Aradia: More memory fuckery!

Ali: Aradia is so mad about this.

Aradia: More fuckery.

Bree: So this is a super magic baby. Oh, God. This. Yeah, this section. I mean, my angry summaries with the mind fuckery just escalate as we go, because we’ve got some ethical discussions to have. So we catch up with her when she’s ten years old, and she’s trying to get the First Daughter, Geria, who does not seem like the nicest lady ever, to buy her an adventure book.

Ali: She seems like a fucking winner.

Bree: Leading to potential use of said magic. And a little bit of a fight between Geria and Taig, who is her favorite person. So let’s talk about what happens in this first part. Like, does anything catch your guys’ eyes?

Ali: Geria sucks as a person.

Aradia: So much.

Ali: Absolutely blows. Stealing from a child and then being racist toward that child.

Aradia: And like gaslighting? A child? To steal her money and, and then like, clearly implying that she just wishes her mother would hurry up and die already. It’s just like, You’re the worst!

Bree: Yeah. And because of the laws in this world, like, there’s not a lot of option. Your stuff is going to your First Daughter, you don’t actually get to say no.

Aradia: Hate that.

Ali: Yeah, they really are like, anyone could just – and she clearly also is like, I can’t wait for mom to die so I can kick out all of these relations and, you know, just consolidate my wealth.

Bree: Geria is not letting 3000 people stay around, getting taken care of, it does not seem like.

Ali: Geria sucks as a person. I don’t. I’m not a fan. No, not a fan. You know, I know we love gaslight, gatekeep, girlboss, but not like this.

Aradia: Not to our heroine as a child. That’s too much. That’s too close to the sun for us.

Bree: Yeah, so she is the eldest of – is it seven or twelve? I can’t even remember how many kids Lilen has. I have like, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine on the family tree. But I think there might have even been a couple more. But Geria is the eldest, and I think Taig, who is the eldest boy, he’s the other person we see a lot of in this. And we saw him in the Sarra section as well. He and the minstrel are buddies. They went off and did their hijinx together. So we’re going back before that – this section takes place before that all went down. So we’ve wound back in time again.

Aradia: Something that struck me about this was that Scraller has outlawed new books.

Bree: Yes.

Aradia: That is a red flag as a library adjacent loving person, like libraries are my house of worship. This is very bad.

Ali: Yeah. Gus and I almost got married in the library. We ended up not doing it, but we did almost get married in the library. And so: same. But also I have joked many times that I want someone to do this, just so I can catch up!

Aradia: Well, that’s different. (laughs)

Bree: Yes. She gives very explicit reasons. So what happens is that Cailet has saved her little coppers from, like, running errands and she’s addicted to adventure novels. And so she wants Geria to buy her the next adventure novel in her series. You know, when she goes into town.

Aradia: I need the next Wheel of Time book. Like, I know this feeling.

Ali: I have to order an obscene amount of this – when we’re talking about where this podcast started. I’m now known in this bookstore for how many books I (laughs). Because I couldn’t be without them.

Bree: Cailet asks, Why did Scraller outlaw new books? And Geria’s answer is, because he’s wise enough to know that anything worth writing has already been written and printed, and most of that isn’t worth reading anyway.

Ali: And Bree and I are triggered. We are triggered by that statement!

Bree: Yeah.

Aradia: Terrible. Terrible reasoning.

Bree: Excuse me, Horny Dragon Books One and Two are going to be an important addition to the canon! (laughs)

Aradia: I mean. But like. For real though!

Bree: Yeah. So that’s a good little thing dropped in there that tells you a lot about Scraller. I mean I wonder if that means he doesn’t need any bedtime stories. He’s just like, I got all of the stories I want.

Aradia: I mean, it’s, you know, it’s like Disney doing the shot for shot live action remakes of movies that were perfectly fine in their nineties format and do not need a shot for shot remake. Like, what are you doing? Why.

Ali: The screenwriter who hopes to be hired by that company someday? No comment.

Aradia: I just – keep writing new stories! What is so wrong with making new stories? I’m just triggered. As a consumer of literature, I am clearly triggered in a different way.

Bree: I should No comment more often. I’m just in here, draggin publishing weekly. Ey publishing, come at me!

Ali: No comment.

(all laugh)

Aradia: On the family relations front I also noticed that Lilen’s uncle was married to Meemaw Ambrai. And I was very proud of myself for working that out. I’m not sure that it’s relevant, because everyone’s apparently married to everyone? But I do want to point out that that’s happening. Happened.

Bree: And that is where I goofed on the family tree. I had it as, Lilen was her brother, that he was her brother, but he’s her uncle. So Lilen’s uncle was married to Meemaw Ambrai, which is why when all of that stuff went down. The Ostin’s were like, Let’s just all be chill and not make any sudden movements, and Scraller was like, No, I’m going to wipe you all out anyway, just to prove that I am not friends with those terrible Ambrai people.

Ali: Again, that app is looking more and more marketable in terms of this family tree, that Are you related app.

Aradia: And like also, there’s a way to make the name like a twist on the comment, where she clearly riffs off of Animal Farm with the, Some of the Ostins are more equal than others. Like she just literally says that, she’s like, Yeah we all got the same name, and they’re all equal, but some are more equal than others. And I’m like, okay, so even the good guys are like, Animal Farm problematic. Got it. Cool.

Ali: The wealthy? Being problematic? No. It’s almost as if absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Bree: Who could have imagined that a eugenics based hierarchy of value would turn out so uncool?

Aradia: Shocked Pikachu face.

Ali. Where it is said, This blood is better than all the other blood.

Bree: Literal blood value.

Ali: Oh no! That doesn’t create a perfect system of power structures?

Bree: And we’re going to visit the fantasy eugenics later in this section again. So, you know, we’ve got lots of lots of fun callbacks to that.

Ali: It’s funny because in the first half of the Cailet section, I was kind of like, we really aren’t learning much that’s new. You know, we’re getting it from Cailet’s perspective. But I was like, Okay, yeah, yeah, yeah. I feel like I understand all of this, I know all of this. And then the second half was just like, And now we’re just going to give you all of this new info right now, shove it.

Bree: Here’s a world building hose, fire hose. We’re just going to open it up and blast it.

Ali: I feel completely blasted against the wall by it all of a sudden.

Aradia: Yeah.

Bree: So, yeah, I mean, the first part is a little, you know, slow, like, not slow, but it’s definitely – we’re getting Cailet as a child. I think the most significant thing that happens in part one is really, that after Geria comes back and is like, No, I spent your stuff on face cream because this desert climate is just so terrible for me. So whatever.

Aradia: Oh my God, I want to slap her. Why don’t you slap –

Ali: I don’t ever root for men to hit women. I don’t root for that. But when he did hit her? I wasn’t mad about it.

Aradia: Right? I’m like, Why am I rooting for a man hitting a woman.

Ali: I was like, I should not have been rooting for that.

Aradia: Melanie, what are you doing?

Ali: At the same time, when he hit her I was, Yes. And then I had to reevaluate.

Aradia: What was I supposed to do? Like she was being so the worst!

Ali: And I’m sorry, Talk shit, get hít. She talked shit, she got hit.

Aradia: Exactly. She was told to back off repeatedly.

Bree: Cailet figured out that she still had the money and took it. And there was some sort of weird thing going on here, where she told Geria to shut up? And then Geria couldn’t talk. So it definitely felt like –

Aradia: She did magic! With, like, a strong sense of justice. It was like, I’m just going to get mine.

Bree: Yeah, yeah. Accidental magic. And so then she ran to get Taig, because, like, you know, Geria was like, I’m to come on to beat your ass, you weird little witchy child.

Aradia: She calls her a changeling. Hmm…

Bree: Called out to the only defense and protection that had never failed her. So that’s how she sees Taig, as the, you know, he’s definitely the large protective figure in her life at this point.

Ali: Everyone loves Taig.

Bree: Everyone does love Taig.

Aradia: He’s magnetic to the whole cast.

Bree: This is the one, by the way, who we described in loving detail in Sarra’s chapter with the shoulders and the eyes and the hair and the thighs and the whole – (laughs). So Taig’s definitely getting a lot of love from, different types of love. So he’s a hottie and he’s very protective of this little fosterling child here.

Ali: Which just makes him more attractive. Am I wrong?

Bree: He wallops Geria. Key slaps Geria. For – and like you said Aradia, calling her a changeling.

Aradia: Yeah. I’m seeing so much neurodivergent representation in her entire arc, right? Because she’s being called a changeling. She’s got an extremely strong sense of justice. She’s literal to a freaking Amelia Bedelia level fault.

Bree: No, she is. She’s definitely very, very literal. It comes up several times.

Aradia: Yeah, I’m liking her the most. She’s feeling the most like me. Like this is me the most of all the four perspectives. Like this is definitely me. Yeah.

Ali: I was getting neurodivergent vibes as well.

Bree: And we do know, because they say it early on, there are only four people who know who Cailet actually is, and Geria and Taig are two of them. And then their mom and the healer Mage who was there when she was born. So Geria knows who she is and definitely has some, This is all going to come back and bite us on the – I mean anyone who likes Scraller is probably not Team Ambrai. She’s more Team Murder Punch Card Lady. So this is sort of dangerous knowledge, which is probably why Taig was like, I’m going to shut this down.

Ali: Yeah, and this is why I always worry. Like, Lilen seems really chill, and Taig seems really chill, and then she has Geria. What happened between first and second child? How did we fuck up here?

Aradia: I mean, clearly, whatever happened between Glenin and Sarra also happened between these two.

Ali: But, like, they were separate. They were in separate homes, living separate lives, Right? So I’m like, but these two grew up in the same environment, same everything, right? But one of them is like the best guy in the world, and one of them is a Bond villain. And I just want to figure out what happened and how did we drop the ball so hard on the second kid?

Bree: I do feel like at some point somebody says something about her father spoiling her, but I’m not sure where that comes up.

Aradia: I mean, I could totally see it. Being the heir to the family is way different, just because of how they get treated, because they’re going to inherit all the everything. Versus the unimportant kids, like the sons in this case, and any of the younger kids. Like they’re going to get treated different than the heir.

Bree: I mean, this is an heir that you can’t write out of the will, even if you want to. I mean, there’s no – she must have a level of entitlement and also a sort of, you know, basically what are you going to do about it? She can be, however, whoever she wants. And I guess that is who she chose to be.

Ali: And what a choice.

Aradia: What a choice.

Ali: I just feel like when you’re stealing money from children – again, with people doing shitty things like this, I’m like, Do you never just turn to yourself and go, Am I a bad person?

Aradia: Right?

Ali: Like, I don’t put a cart back and I feel like a bad person. You know what I mean? Like, if I didn’t put – if litter accidentally falls out of my car and blows away, I feel like a bad person. How do you go, like, stealing from a child and going, I’m justified. A child’s book money.

Bree: Her book money! That makes it all worse!

Aradia: That she earned, like painfully earned, with her little child chores. Ugh.

Bree: I think we all are definitely going to relate to that so hard. Imagine when you were younger and you just wanted this one special book, and you worked for it, and then someone’s like, Naw, I spent it on face cream. Sorry!

Ali: I would cry.

Aradia: Yeah, I would, I would kick.

Ali: She held it together really well, because I, I don’t handle conflict well without tears. So, like, I would have cried so fast. She didn’t cry.

Aradia: So then what happens at the end though, of this section with like the fire and ice thing was really weird.

Ali: So cool.

Bree: So how did you guys interpret that?

Ali: I interpreted it that she, like, was feeling their essence, their emotional essence, you know, because one of them is cold and hard and horrible, and one of them is like, indignant with, like, the fires of justice, you know? And so that’s how I interpreted it as kind of feeling this essence. And those essences coming into conflict.

Aradia: Yeah, I interpreted it as like seeing emotion, like somehow she was seeing their emotions and maybe because she can see it at some point she’ll gain the ability to like, manipulate it? Which certainly seems to be suggested by later chapters of the section that there is a way to manipulate emotions. And then I have a feeling that her being able to see them in those kind of qualitative ways is going to matter.

Bree: One of the things that Sarra does say in her section, when she meets Taig, is even though yes, he’s Hotty McHotty Pants, she also describes his eyes as burning with this like passion that might burn everything up. So this is definitely a descriptor that they want us to be thinking of. He is an unchecked flame of some sort. And so Cailet does seem to be like picking up on this somehow, whatever it is.

Aradia: Yeah. And then when she tells Gorynel Desse about it later, he doesn’t even bother asking which was which, because it’s so obvious. It’s like, well I mean, anyone can see who’s the ice and who’s the fire in that situation. Like she’s picking up on something, but like at a higher dimensional level or something.

Bree: We also find out that Geria is trying to marry Alin off. We know Alin is a younger brother here, who’s 14.

Ali: On top of that, she supports child marriage.

Bree: Yeah, she’s trying to get the contract in, because as we know, selling the blood males to, you know, in marriage. Like you get these huge – you get lots of money for them.

Ali: And Alin’s 14.

Aradia: And gay! And everyone knows he’s gay, everyone knows he’s gay, and it doesn’t matter. It’s just, marry him off anyway. Doesn’t matter, do it for the money.

Ali: This behavior during Pride month, I just. Homophobic!

Bree: The audacity. It’s pride!

Aradia: The gall.

Bree: Yes. In this first section it does seem to be implied that he is gay. I think it gets a lot less implied as we go on.

Aradia: Yeah. Once he’s an actual adult who can be in a relationship and isn’t a child, but like everyone knows that he’s going to be not marrying a woman, like.

Bree: Yeah, I think that the quote is “That’s dumb. He’s not even interested in girls. He spends all his time with Va – I’ve never said this word out loud either. Here we go! – Valrion Maurgen.” And Taig is sort of like, you know, at 14, I didn’t much like girls either, but…

Ali: And I’m like, Taig, you’re not the same.

Aradia: And then later on, it’s like, No, those two are still together. This Val guy is still, like they are living together. They’re happy together. Like, no. He’s gay. He’s gay, everyone knows. No, he does not like girls.

Ali: I heard briefly about Alin, and I was like, that is a gay child. That boy is a rainbow.

Aradia: And he’s got the wild, uncontrolled, makes you go crazy magic, that pops up, and is causing problems. So it’s like, yeah, I mean, sure, you’ve got all the sparkles, all the rainbows.

Bree: Let’s see. I think that is – we’re just about at the end of this.

0:25:46 Music break

Bree: So yeah, the next chapter or the next section is where we get more into – a strange Mage comes to town, which is not our usual strange Mage, but a different strange Mage.

Aradia: Different red flags.

Bree: Who comes to talk to Alin. Yeah, he does not seem like a very cool dude.

Ali: I don’t like him.

Bree: But yeah, he is kind of insistently still wearing his Mage regimentals, even though that will basically get you killed now, or like wearing something that suggests them. So he’s not willing to go incognito.

Ali: When we really do need you to be incognito, my friend.

Bree: Yeah. And he starts going, you know, basically locking himself away in rooms with Alin and then taking Alin out on these long rides and various directions to do something mysteriously Mage-y.

Aradia: That makes him tired. I’m like, Red flags! Red. Flag.

Bree: He’s constantly exhausted and shaken. Cailet starts having nightmares, too.

Ali: I’m going to be just questioning a thing. Just the parental decisions that seem to be continuously popping up. Like, Here’s a strange magic man, let’s have him go off unsupervised with our pre-pubescent or recently pubescent child. They come back, you know, exhausted, tired, keeping secrets. And we’re not going to poke it. We’re not going to investigate it. We’re not going to comment. We’re not going to worry about it at all.

Bree: Lady Lilen does seem in all other regards to be a pretty good parent, other than the weird thing that Geria popped up. But she’s doing the same thing that Auvry was doing, which is basically like, Well, now you’ve got a magical tutor, I guess go forth, child, I will not supervise you.

Ali: I guess on your play, when you’re having that many kids. And I mean this with all due respect, but you are rolling a continual dice of you may be getting a shitty one.

Bree: So yeah, the D12, the someone had to be the natural 1.

Ali: I mean, I get that, some of it. Yeah, I get that some of it is your parenting, but like, some of it might also not be. Do you know what I mean? Sometimes you might just get a shitty child.

Bree: Though I do think at this point we should point out that Lilen did have another daughter, the second oldest daughter, Margit. Who died, who was a Mage, and she was in training, and she died under mysterious circumstances.

Ali: Is that mysterious circumstance Glenin?

Aradia: That’s my number one suspect.

Bree: So, something, something. So her letting Alin go off seems to be a stressful situation for her. So that’s, I think, even a bigger leap of faith and trust. And it doesn’t seem to go very well.

Ali: No, this guy sucks.

Bree: The first day of Applefall week, they have the feast of Saint Agvir, which is where they have a tradition all across this country where all the kids have to, like, climb this tree, the tallest tree in the area, and tie ribbons to the top. And it’s like a contest for who can do it the fastest. And since the Waste doesn’t have tall trees, she imports this giant pole.

Aradia: It’s like a reverse maypole. Because it’s for the apple harvest, and you attach ribbons to it instead of tying ribbons to it, it’s like, giving me maypole vibes, but like, totally warped.

Ali: But like death maypole.

Bree: Yeah. Especially since all the kids still hold their ribbons, like after they’ve tied them up and, like, in the bottom. So I really always imagined it being this maypole where you go up and tie your own ribbon.

Ali: And again, I’m going to question the parents. I guess I’m going to question the parents again. What is going on? Why are we allowing for this concussive event to occur?

Aradia: Well, we do get the heeler bitching out Lilen for not having more safety measures. I mean, granted, what he thinks safety measures are is like handholds, but still.

Bree: Yeah, he’s mad because, like, real trees have branches and, like, sticky, you know, rough bark and stuff at least so you could get a foothold. So he just wants them doing normal tree crawling instead of like –

Ali: These are not millennials raising these children. These are not millennial parents.

Bree: Yeah. You know, I’m a little older than you guys, so I’m like, I’m not like, you know, I’m elder millennial, baby gen X, you know, xennial cross over. I’m like, No, I was sent out to climb trees. My first grade picture, I don’t have any, I just have the class picture because I had fallen out of a tree and I had this giant shiner. So yeah, first grade I have no class pictures because I had fallen out of a tree. Which I was climbing as part of a tadpole merchant empire scheme I had launched. And for some reason it involved me climbing a very tall tree, which I was proud of. So you know, I was a little more of the unsupervised generation. They probably would have let us climb a maple tree.

Ali: Nowadays, when you’re writing for children’s TV, it has to go through Standards and Practices. There’s like a whole group that goes through and it’s like, No, kids will try to replicate this. No, you have to have somebody commenting on how dangerous it is, because kids will try to replicate it. And that’s – it’s so specific and intense now. Very careful about kids.

Aradia: Oh boy.

Ali: And where I’m like, Oh, do your parents care about you and your safety? You soft creatures.

Like, I was one of six. We fought to the death every day.

Bree: Now my generation, they’re just like flinging us into the back of the cars without car seats. Where they chain smoke in the front, you know, it’s –

Ali: Yeah, exactly.

Bree: They’re climbing this tree. Cailet’s really excited because Alin apparently has the record. This is the first year he’s too old to participate and also he’s off doing weird Mage things. So her goal is to, like, beat Alin’s record. And so she’s like, runs off to the tree and she gets most of the way to the top, and then she hears him screaming.

Ali: Did he – unclear. Did he actually scream out loud?

Bree: Nobody else heard it.

Aradia: It’s got to be psychic. It seems like it’s a psychic scream.

Bree: I do think it’s implied at some point that Val heard it or Val knew something was wrong. Val and Cailet.

Aradia: Okay, well, Val’s been with him for four years, so that makes sense.

Bree: So what it says is a long, thin wail cut like an arrow into her heart. Alin ! She knew it, as surely as she knew she was about to fall. Which she does, 25 feet straight down, breaking her arm.

Aradia: She then grabs the ribbons to, like, slow herself down and it like, cuts through her gloves and then cuts into her hands. And it’s like, ah, ow, ow ow.

Bree: The burn, the fabric burn! The worst.

Aradia: Friction burns: No good.

Bree: Yeah, like friction burns, and some, sort of like cloth paper cuts? It sounds like the absolute –

(everyone goes, Ooh, and ow, and oof)

But yeah, she was falling and she could feel the pain, but she could hear Alin screaming and then she gets knocked into darkness and she is deeply afraid of darkness. She has been afraid of the dark her whole life.

Ali: Relatable.

Bree: Which, you know, they told her that even as a baby she would cry and scream if she did not have a light left burning.

Ali: Relatable.

Bree: So she feels like she’s trapped in this darkness and that Alin is somewhere with her trapped and scared and in pain and terrified of this Scholar Mage who has done whatever he has just done.

Ali: During Pride Month!

Bree: Yeah, some sort of magical thing, presumably. And she tries to reach him and she can’t. So this definitely seems like it’s a magical situation here, and that she’s the only person other than maybe Val who could figure out that something was going on.

Ali: This guy we should introduce to Glenin. That’s my feeling. Here is one of the ones.

Bree: This Mage?

Aradia: They’re probably friends. He’s probably working for her.

Ali: Oh, you think he’s like a mole?

Aradia: Yeah, he’s out there, like, doing what she’s doing for her. Like what she’s doing for the movement, he’s doing for her. Like being extra, extra sneaky or something.

Ali: Ooh. I see it. And he sucks.

Bree: It could be. I mean, something has happened to Alin, as we find out in part three. Whatever has happened to him is so traumatic that we have had to summon Gandalf back, you know? So Gorynel Desse is on his way back.

Aradia: Yet another appearance.

Ali: And this guy tries to blame her. The creepy Mage tries to blame Cailet.

Bree: Oh, yeah, the creepy Mage says that whatever happened to Alin was her fault. It says, The Scholar Mage kept to his own chamber after a single visit to Cailet the day after her accident. Glaring, he said only, “It’s her fault,” to Lilen, and departed in an angry whirl of black and gray and silver.

Aradia: It’s his fault.

Ali: I wouldn’t let him even see Cailet after that.

Aradia: No.

Bree: Yeah. Lilen’s basically like, Nonsense. He doesn’t know what the fuck he is talking about

Aradia: No, he knows what he’s talking about, and he’s shifting blame.

Ali: Yeah, Classic abusive behavior.

Aradia: Exactly.

Bree: And she says, The only person who can answer the question of what happened is a better Mage than that idiot, which is –

Ali: Go off, Lilen!

Aradia: Summon Gandalf!

Bree: Summon Gandalf. He’s back to once again fuck around with the magic and memories of one of our magic children.

Aradia: My god, he messes with her memory twice. Makes me so mad.

Bree: And I pointed out at this point that Glenin may be the only one who has escaped with a full memory at this point.

Ali: Have we looked into it all, like, are there any studies about the effects of wiping a child’s memory multiple times over the course of their adulthood and how that might impact them growing up?

Bree: I just feel like we’re going to need an ethics inquiry.

Ali: Like the multiple concussion thing. There might be effects, long term.

Bree: Okay, do you guys think that there are going to be effects? I mean, we’ve seen that Sarra had a painful thing, when her memories were awoken by meeting Cailet. So like, do you think that these people are going to continue to have traumatic experiences when they’re faced with, like, things that bring these memories back?

Ali: Well, I feel like meeting a sibling that you didn’t know existed, but also did know existed, is a vaguely traumatic, probably, definitely traumatic event? And it sounds like it’s incredibly painful to get your memories to come back. I mean, and you don’t know what could possibly cause those memories to surge back? Like if I’m eating a saltine, but the last time I was eating a saltine, something traumatic happened, is it going to suddenly like, That’s so Raven into my head?

Aradia: Yeah, I mean –

Bree: It could! What if there’s triggers?

Ali: There must be!

Bree: Like crackers, or words, or like people’s faces, like you see something or you hear something or you smell something? Scent is extremely powerful.

Aradia: It’s very normal for a memory to come popping back that you forgot about and then have that be retraumatizing to rediscover. That’s normal. And you add magic on top of that and the violation of your person and like whatever, like kingdoms shattering information is in there on top of that, like yeah, it seems likely that there’s going to be many a round of fuck you Gorynel Desse coming from these kids.

Bree: So he’s out here setting time bombs in these babies heads. So we expect them to explode over the next few parts of this book.

Aradia: Seems likely. At least one of them.

Ali: A little bit! I mean, Glenin still hasn’t seen her siblings.

Aradia: Right.

Bree: Glenin still hasn’t seen them. Well, he’s he hasn’t had access to her head, so she’s the only one who he hasn’t been able to fuck around with, because she only saw him that one time when he just, like, popped in to save the Bard and ghosted.

Ali: Oh, but he did wipe her memory of Cailet, though.

Bree: No, that was Sarra.

Ali: Oh, Glenin!

Bree: Glenin is the only one at this point who has got, like, a full memory. Everyone else is –

Ali: And look what it’s done to her.

Bree: Yeah, I guess. Do you want the mind fuckery or do you want the fascism? I mean, I don’t want those to be our two options.

Ali: Unfortunately it seems to be the only ones.

Bree: At least right now.

Aradia: Yeah.

Ali: I guess when you put it that way.

Bree: So Cailet finally meets the great legendary Gorynel Desse.

Ali: Whose hobbies include wiping the memories of children.

Bree: Yes, rescuing bards’ balls. And apparently, you know, who knows all sorts of other things.

Ali: He’s the ball carrier.

Bree: So, yeah, they have a little talk where she’s – first of all, she’s not very impressed with how he looks because he is incognito, unlike this other Mage.

Ali: Judgy.

Bree: He says that he’s helped Alin, that Alin’s going to be okay. And he says something that’s sort of interesting here. “It’s an appropriate day for the work. St. Kiy the Forgetful. Learn to appreciate the ironies in life, Domna .” So do you think that the whole thing he did was just like, Begone, trauma, Alin! Or something? Like, what did he do?

Aradia: I mean, I assumed he was referencing wiping her memory.

Ali: Yeah.

Aradia: As opposed to whatever he did for Alin.

Ali: But I guess, you know, maybe he did it to both of them.

Aradia: Oh, that, that’s. That makes sense.

Bree: Saint Kiy seems to be his favorite person, so.

Ali: It’s his favorite thing to do. It is his special skill on LinkedIn.

Bree: Wiping children’s memories. Flirting with women.

Aradia: Yeah. Interesting that he’s, like, flirting with Lilen. Like, Man, you should have married me. Like, he’s doing, like, a Playboy script, But because he’s in, like, the oppressed gender class, it’s just kind of pathetic.

Bree: Mm hmm. Yeah, he definitely seems to have tried his hand at capturing many of the world’s great beauties 30 to 50 years ago.

Aradia: I love how she just starts listing all the women who rejected him, and he’s like, Please stop.

Bree: Lilen is pretty bad ass.

Aradia: It’s funny.

Ali: I like her. But Desse is always a bridesmaid, never a bride. You know what I mean? Always gets the flirting, but never gets the gal.

Bree: So he tells her that reading thoughts is not a thing that the Mages can do.

Ali: Well we know that to not be true.

Bree: At this point. Are we believing him, anything he says?

Aradia: No.

Ali: No, no, nah!

Aradia: Even the things that he’s not lying about, he’s wrong about. Possibly. So, yeah. No, I don’t trust anything that she’s putting in his mouth at all.

Bree: I mean, I feel like he’s not making himself tremendously trustworthy, so this seems like a fair response.

Ali: Well, I feel like we just had her in people’s heads, mere chapters ago. I feel gaslit by Desse.

Aradia: Yeah, exactly. He’s like, Well, it’s not possible. It’s like, she literally just did it!

Ali: We just did it.

Aradia: Like, literally two pages ago.

Bree: She definitely felt something.

Aradia: She’s just immature.

Bree: And he claims that she read her their faces. But I mean, I don’t think your faces are going to be what’s going to elicit that sort of feeling of fire and ice. They didn’t look like fire and ice. They felt like fire and ice.

Ali: She’s just a neurodivergent who can tell which couples are fighting at the restaurant? Yeah, I find that relatable.

Aradia: I mean, there is that, there is definitely the subconscious thing. But also, she was describing more than a thought, she was describing a visceral sensation, like another sense, like a sixth sense or something. And that to me sounds more like magic than just, JUST neurodivergence.

Bree: So it may not be reading thoughts, but it’s definitely sensing some sort of elemental truth.

Ali: I feel like she’s a super empath.

Aradia: Yeah, and she just needs to refine it and practice it, and then she’ll be effectively reading people’s minds by inference, because she’ll be applying her neurodivergent pattern recognition to this thing, that she just needs to practice with, you know?

Ali: Exactly.

Bree: He decides, you know, he’s like, if I’d done my work properly when you were born, this wouldn’t be necessary. I should have guessed how powerful your magic would be.

Aradia: No, she’s just the Kwisatz Haderach. It’s fine.

Ali: You just didn’t understand that you sent a neurodiverse child into an unpredictable family. So it’s a tale as old as time.

Aradia: As old as time.

Ali: Totally unpredictable family.

Bree: And I think that what’s interesting is – because I wonder if you guys read this the same as me – The magic inside is like light, fire, for her, and he comes in to lock away again. And it really makes me feel like that’s what made her afraid of the dark, that he like, as a baby, she locked – because she says she could only sense the burning glow inside. He couldn’t hide it away from her again. And then this part ends. But he did. And she did not find it again for many years. By then, it was almost too late.

Ali: Wait, question. I remember them saying something about how, when you’re in somebody’s head, you can tell whether or not they’re for the Weaver people?

Bree: Mm hmm.

Ali: Maybe she was sensing allegiances. Is that possible?

Aradia: Ooooh. DnD alignment?

Bree: Oh! There is. In Glenin’s point of view, they do talk about the the way people think being a sort of pattern that, you know, you could feel the difference between.

Aradia: Yeah!

Bree: So I think that’s actually very possible. It’s not reading the thoughts, but reading the pattern of your thoughts. If you’ve got this – she describes her father as chaotic, the Mages as chaotic, and the Weavers as very organized and regimented.

Ali: Right. It feels like fire and ice, right?

Aradia: Mmhm!

Bree: Like maybe somebody who, like Geria, who likes to –

Ali: She’s into Scraller and his works and then by extension into like Glenin and –

Bree: Being into banning new books is a very – feels very regimented, feels very controlling. Like you’re someone who’s down with this strict power structure.

Aradia: Very rigid, very locked, very unmoving.

Ali: Have we talked about the parallels of their thought process to in A Wrinkle in Time, at all?

Bree: We did in – I think we talked about the bouncing the ball in the second episode.

Ali: Yeah, because I’m very obsessed with that. But I just saw a play version of the Wrinkle in Time, days ago

Aradia: Oh, cool!

Ali: And it just reinforced that for me, when I was reading everything, this was kind of like very Wrinkle in Time vibes, where it’s like, you must be within the confines of what we want for you. And if you bounce the ball in a fun way, you’re hauled off to be reprogramed or whatever.

Bree: That is very much the vibe I get from the Malerrisi. So the Weavers, they, you know, You’re all going to bounce the ball the way we tell you to bounce the ball! And if I tell you not to bounce the ball, you better not try to find a ball to bounce.

Aradia: Yeah, It’s a very, very stark form of order. There’s not a lot of complexity and nuance. There is one way and that is it. And yeah, very, very Wrinkle in Time. Yeah, you’re reading it, just I see the red ball bouncing. I just like, I’m seeing it. I’m seeing, I’m seeing a brain sitting on a pedestal, how can I not see it?

Ali: It’s like, We get to decide what we get to do. And we get to decide what you get to do.

Aradia: Yeah, because we know better!

Ali: And you don’t see the irony of that? You don’t see it – because Glenin got to pick, she got to pick that she would go into politics.

Aradia: But she’s the one percent, to be like, Yeah, I know what’s good for you. I have the education and the wealth and the privilege to be able to see what’s better for you, than you can. So just trust me.

Ali: You know, that idea that the wealthy and privileged are somehow smarter than the rest of the population?

Aradia: I mean, how else would they have gotten all their money if they weren’t smarter and better than the rest of the population?

Bree: Yeaaaah.

Aradia: It can’t just be luck! That would be – It can’t be theft. It can’t be dishonesty. That would be ridiculous. We live in a meritocracy! Everything’s a meritocracy.

Bree: You can’t be stealing young children’s book money!

Aradia: Clearly not!

Bree: So this is where we end part three, he takes her magic away again, locks it away.

Ali: Boo! No one likes that.

Aradia: No one likes that.

0:47:10 Music break, jump forward in time to Parts 4 and 5

Bree: And we jump forward in time again. And we are now officially after the Sarra point of view, the end of the Sarra point of view. So we have finally hit New Time.

Aradia: Yay! New information.

Bree: We jump ahead to Cailet and Lady Lilen coming home after that disastrous party where Taig has had to run off now, because he’s on the run, because he’s either assaulted or helped kidnap, or is chasing the minstrel for assaulting and/or kidnaping Sarra. So, you know, all that trouble he got himself into and, man, Cailet is sad! Because now Taig is on the run and we find out that Alin is off adventuring with Val, and those are basically her two favorite people.

So she’s at home and she’s lonely and she’s getting real moody. Puberty is sneaking up on her

Aradia: Poor girl. Relatable.

Bree: Also, apparently they’re getting more and more into this implication that Cailet has a big old crush on Taig. She’s 13, you know, and there’s one line in here: At not quite thirteen, she was not yet old enough to realize that she would instinctively distrust anybody that beautiful who had been found alone with Taig Ostin. So she’s a little 12, 13 year old with a big crush on her foster brother.

Ali: Sure. I mean, who doesn’t have a crush on Taig?

Aradia: Yeah, right.

Bree: He has not in any way indicated any inappropriate response to this. So I don’t. I’m not super worried about it.

Ali: Laughing. No, it’s the child.

Aradia: No, because he still sees her as a kid. Right? Like this is the thing that’s happening for her in the beginnings of puberty. And I was like, that’s completely appropriate. You’re allowed to have an age inappropriate crush. That’s fine.

Ali: As a child. Yes. A child is allowed.

Bree: Yes. Yes. Children are allowed to have age inappropriate crushes, but you don’t have them back!

Aradia: It’s part of being –

Ali: Yeah, that’s correct. Yeah. It’s called being a child. Yeah. And children do silly things all the time. What a silly child thing. Yes, a silly, youthful child silliness.

Aradia: Just treat it like that!

Ali: Yes, exactly. It does not mean that it’s real or serious. Or should be explored in any way, shape or form. No, no.

Bree: He always just treats her like a little sister. So I think that’s –

Aradia: Yeah, we can continue to have an unproblematic crush on him as the podcasters, we’re allowed.

Bree: Yes, we can still like Taig. Taig has not yet done anything terrible, as far as I know.

Ali: No, no.

Aradia: Love the yet in that sentence.

Bree: Hot and chaotic. So, we love a hot and chaotic –

Aradia: We love hot and chaotic.

Ali: We don’t need to worry about –

Bree: Hot, chaotic, and joining the resistance against fascism! I mean that’s a –

Aradia: Hot, chaotic, and punches Nazis.

Bree: Yes.

Ali: We love it. We love that.

Bree: I’m going to call Taig the MVP.

Ali: I just have a crush on Lilen at this point, yeah, I’ll be real about that, too. I just like that she takes no shit.

Aradia: Yeah. Totally.

Bree: We do get what I believe is officially confirmation here. You know, Geria is furious because Alin just, like, picked up and ran off with Val.

Ali: Good for him.

Bree: She would not stop trying to marry him off. And the line here is: She simply refused to acknowledge that Alin would never marry anyone—except in the unlikely event that Valirion Maurgen turned female. The two of them, seventeen and eighteen respectively, were off on their own now. Cailet knew that however they were living, they were happy with each other.

Ali: Yaaaaay!

Aradia: I wish that they could stay out of the plot and just be happily ever after, but I’m sure they’re going to show up in the resistance and have a heart wrenching death scene. ANd I’m already upset about it now.

Ali: Oh no!!

Bree: It is a question that we will have to get to. You got to love right now, though, where they are off having adventures together.

Ali: And they should stay there.

Bree: They should stay there. Maybe they will. We don’t know!

Ali: Stay there and be happy.

Aradia: Yes. Stay there and be happy. Never show up again.

Ali: Live your best cottagecore life. Get some chickens. Take care of them.

Aradia: Yes, exactly. Take up beadwork.

Ali: Beadwork! Ah!

Bree: So do you guys have any theories about what this Mage might have taught Alin?

Ali: Nothing good, I don’t feel.

Aradia: Yeah, like it’s chaotic magic. It’s not the orderly magic, it’s the chaotic magic. But he doesn’t seem to have had Alin’s best interests in mind. So, like, did he put booby traps in his magical training so that he’ll, like, blow up at an opportune time, or some sort of like triggers in his mind or, like you said, like a sleeper cell thing? Like you say the word and now he’s an automaton?

Bree: Something painful happens.

Aradia: So yeah, I don’t trust it.

Ali: Oh, I was just thinking about the things that are already there. Because it seemed like the two of them got trapped somewhere together mentally? Right, like in their brain? So it’s like, it had to have something to do with his mind. Right?

Aradia: Maybe he was, like, learning how to do, like, astral projection kind of stuff and got lost?

Ali: Could be. Could be?

Bree: And I will say there, they were riding out together to do something in different directions, that that was part of whatever this training was.

Ali: Alin and the creepy guy? Riding out together…

Bree: And the Mage. Yeah. Keep that in your brains and think about that.

Ali: I like the astral projection or the teleportation – Maybe the Ladder thing?

Aradia: Yeah.

Ali: He can do Ladders?

Aradia: Yeah. Or trying to find one, or –

Ali: Because wasn’t that lost to Mages? Or something like that.

Bree: I think they’ve lost how to make them. They talk about that a little bit later here in this section. But we do know that Sarra went through one. We saw Auvry take Glenin through one. Remember that? He took her through the one to Ambrai, and that was when she just got really sad, like, Oh, I know you killed like 50,000 people, but my house is kind of burnt, that’s a bummer!

Ali: Oh, no! Is your house kind of burned? Aww. Fuck you, Glenin.

Bree: So we know that there are Ladders out there. We know of at least two, one that will take you from Ambrai to Long Riding and one that will take you from Ambrai to Ryka Court.

Aradia: Yeah. I’m really like, it’s got to be either distance, like communication, or transportation over a distance. Something like that has to have been what they were messing with.

Ali: So the Mages – I know the Weavers know how to Ladder. Do the Mages also know how –

Bree: We know that Gorynel Desse does. That’s all we know for sure. Because he’s the one who took Sarra and her mom through the Ladder.

Ali: I feel it’s got to have something to do with the teleportation, transportation, something. Maybe Alin showed a talent for one of those things. Also, noteworthy that Margit was – she was on a horse when she disappeared. Right?

Bree: So what happened was, she was riding out somewhere to get training, and her horse came back, and somebody claimed that, like, they touched the blanket and it burned their hand. And so there was something like, maybe there was a magic spell on it that made the horse throw her. And they found her body later. So it was supposed to look like an accident, but it wasn’t an accident.

Ali: Definitely wasn’t an accident. Feels suspicious, feels weird.

Bree: Very suspicious.

Aradia: People riding around in the woods. Suspicious.

Bree: Yeah.

Ali: A weird fabric from the Weavers.

Bree: Oooh.

Aradia: From their great Loom, potentially?

Ali: Oooh. Suspicious fabrics. Suspicious fabrics. I don’t know. I was just like, Is it a coinkydink that something traumatic happened to Alin on a horse, and then Margit also died, essentially from being thrown off her horse, but really, something else happened?

Bree: I think that’s a good question. And were they trying to teach Alin whatever Margit was supposed to learn or –

Ali: Everyone knows, Only good things happen when you try to get somebody to learn something that a sibling is good at.

Aradia: Yeah. Recipe for success right there.

Ali: Yeah. Try to force that square into a circular hole. Just bang it into that hole.

Aradia: Mmhm.

Ali: For sure. Always works.

Bree: Okay, so let’s go back to here. They’re riding – Cailet and Lilen are taking a carriage, a bumpy carriage, because they have definitely upset their hosts by the Ostins, Taig causing so much drama. They’re riding back to the ship. Cailet’s mad. She’s mad at this pretty girl. She’s mad at the Minstrel. Lilen tells her if there’s anyone to blame, it’s Anniyas. Everything traces back to her ambition. Even her hatred of Mageborns, which has caused so much grief, is a tool of her need for power.

Ali: I mean, that’s true.

Bree: And Cailet’s like, I don’t get it! What do you do with power?

Aradia: Which, mood!

Ali: Couldn’t be more different than Glenin!

Aradia: Why is power? Why are is people power?

Ali: That’s very real.

Bree: So, yeah, I mean, she’s clearly been listening where she’s not supposed to be. She knows a lot more about the Rising than she maybe should. Lilen’s like, let’s tone down the subversive talk, because there are probably, you know, ears at Ostin Hold. And that means she goes back and she really is alone. She’s grumpy, she’s prowling around. Nobody wants to mess with her because she is just increasingly temperamental.

Aradia: She’s rereading her favorite books, and like, yes, ahh. More representation.

Bree: Yeah. And then, yes, The Wise Blood has come again.

Ali: Amazing.

Aradia: And then she admits fully that she’s got a complete full blown crush on Taig. Then it shifts from like, she doesn’t quite know, to, She knows. That’s the wisdom that arrives.

Bree: There would be no flowers from him, no congratulations, no first dance in his arms as a young woman instead of a little girl. She’d dreamed of it all her life, it seemed, imagination painting her pretty and grown-up and worth dancing with… and now it would never come true.

Aradia: The heartbreak!

Ali: Aww. That’s not true.

Bree: So Lilen’s going to give a party to celebrate. And there will be like, you know, she’s going to get her Wise Blood thing. But yeah, Taig won’t be there to see her officially, a quote unquote, young woman, which makes her sad. But when she goes to tell Lilen, she stumbles across our favorite magic man again, who is hanging out with Lilen.

Ali: I feel like Cailet’s main ability is to stumble upon a great eavesdropping conversation. It’s her real talent. She is eavesdropping right and left in this chapter.

Aradia: So it’s like, if Sarra is good at mistaken identity, Cailet is good at eavesdropping.

Bree: Yes. Sarra can not pick the minstrel out of a frickin line up. No matter how hard she tries.

Ali: She has real face blindness, that’s for sure.

Bree: Any place Cailet goes, she’s going to find a very serious conversation. Possibly about her.

Ali: Yes, that’s a real skill.

Aradia: It’s how she knows she’s the main character from the jump.

Bree: So she stumbles across them, talking about basically everything we just said. She’s moody, she’s temperamental. These are all signs that the magic is really strong.

Aradia: Oh! So when you’re a moody, temperamental teenage girl, that doesn’t mean that you’re a sulky adolescent? It means you have magic.

Ali: Good news for me!

Bree: So here’s the thing. The Wise Blood’s like, basically puberty and magic are like your full magic manifestation. Puberty and magic seem to be linked. And what Lilen says is, I’ve watched her the last year, and what Margit suffered is ten times worse in Cailet. So, yes, we all have our PMS magic. This is the dream, right?

Aradia: So waiting for those powers to kick in.

Ali: So Margit was more powerful?

Bree: No, no, Cailet is like all of this, like restlessness and this stuff that are signs of magic, is ten times worse in Cailet than it was in Margit. So Margit had it bad, but like, Cailet is just like –

Aradia: Exponentially worse.

Bree: I think we’re getting indications that she is like The super baby. If there was a chosen one? This is the chosen one magic baby.

Ali: Cailets got like PMDD.

Aradia: Yeah she’s got it bad.

Ali: Yeah. It’s like the worst –

Aradia: She’s got like Kwisatz Haderach level of this.

Bree: She is Dragon Reborn level main character magic girl.

Aradia: Coming out of her ears.

Bree: She listens to this whole conversation about – I mean they, they just like say everything. They like, talk about who she is, and talk about Glenin. They talk about how Cailet aches for Ambrai, even though she never saw it because it’s in her blood, you know. Lilen is basically just dropping every secret that no one’s supposed to say. And Cailet is listening.

Ali: And Desse is like, This is easier than just telling her, right? Like, he’s just like, I allow it.

Bree: Yeah, because what does he do? The second this conversation is over, he’s like, Oh, you know, she’s a smarty. She’s been listening this whole time. Next chapter, she doesn’t remember any of it because we know what this dude does.

Aradia: I’m. Just. Angry!

Ali: That time he was like, I’m doing it for fun.

Aradia: He was like, I have all the practice I need, but I just – See? See how quick I am on the draw? Quick draw! Quick memory wipe.

Bree: Oh, I’m just gonna pause when Lilen starts listing all the ladies who didn’t marry him. Jeymian, who had the sense to marry Toliner Alvassy. That is one of the, you know, the missing girls that you keep asking about Ali.

Ali: Where are they?

Bree: So Jeymian’s last name is Renne and she is Orlin Renne’s mom. So Sarra’s Ward.

Ali: Right.

Bree: And Tolinar is the one that they’ve talked about having come take the position when Auvry couldn’t take it. So he is the missing girls’ uncle. So all these people, once again, they were all just one swingers club dating pool, apparently.

Aradia: Seriously.

Bree: And now they are all one very twisted family tree.

Ali: Again with the app. They need it!

Bree: They seriously do.

Ali: Or at least a Mage who’s good at telling. But Mai and Elin. Where the hell are they? They’ve got to pop up.

Bree: They have not resurfaced yet.

Ali: They’re gonna.

Bree: My entire summary for part five is, Seriously? We’re going to mind whammy this child again? I’m calling DHR on you, Gorynel Desse.

Ali: For real.

Aradia: For. Real.

Ali: Mai and Elin are giving like, princess missing in the tower.

Bree: There’s some Anastacia.

Aradia: Oh yeah.

Bree: Yeah, yeah. The princess in the tower. Yeah.

Ali: They’re giving princess in the tower, but I think we’re going to find them.

1:02:29 Music break, Part 6, the worldbuilding stories

Bree: Part six. One thing that he does say in part five, is she old enough to go riding out alone and just happen to happen upon the Mad Old Man of Crackwall Canyon? And Lilen’s like, What the fuck, is that you? So Gorynel Desse has been out there, creating this entire rumored second identity for the last five years, just so he can, like, come be this crazy old man who lives in the desert. So when it’s time to teach Cailet.

Aradia: His method acting is way over the top.

Ali: He didn’t really want to be a maid. She wanted to be an actor.

Aradia: He didn’t really want to be anything except a cranky old man in the woods. And he’s like, I have to do this for cosplay reasons.

Bree: Well, remember there’s no woods here. So he’s a cranky old man in the desert.

Aradia: In the desert. He’s like, I’m going to go do a Moses.

Ali: He’s like, I’m moving to Joshua Tree.

Bree: Yeah, basically going to go like, you know, live in a cave in the desert, just to, you know, spread rumors that I’m a crazy old man, so nobody bothers me. And then this magic kid can come hang out with me.

Ali: I fail to see what’s wrong with this, actually.

Bree: So, part six, that crazy old man of Crackwall Canyon has arrived.

Aradia: So much stuff in this section. Oh, my God.

Bree: Here is where we open the worlds building fire hose.

Aradia: Glug, glug, glug

Bree: So, Rinnel, the name he gives himself – and I guess we’re just going to call him this going forward to differentiate between when he’s off being magical mind wipe man and when he’s being method actor – is Rinnel Solingirt. So Rinnel is what Gorynel Desse’s character is here. And he basically has got a little cottage in this canyon. Crazy little old man who like carves –

Aradia: Jade.

Bree: Carves Jade, yes.

Aradia: Little Jade items like, I’m guessing like little statues and like –

Bree: Pendants .

Aradia: Like those little rocks that have one Japanese character on them that you can buy in stores? He’s making those.

Bree: Yeah. Apparently the most lucrative is, he does large pendants of St. Geridon’s double horseshoes for the bower lads.

Aradia: Okay, that’s just a butt! Right, that’s just a butt.

Ali: So he really is an old man who moved to Joshua Tree. It really is that!

Aradia: Oh my God. Yeah, totally.

Bree: So he carves saintly sigils and makes potions.

Aradia: He carves butts into rocks, hashtag butt rock.

Bree: Hashtag butt rock. Sorry to everybody who’s not in Wheel of Time fandom.

Aradia: Very in-joke. You know who you are.

Bree: So yeah, he tells her stories. He has lots of books and lots of stories. And basically Cailet is just now getting an education of all of the like recent history, all of the magic Mage Captals and First Lords of the Malerris. So she’s learning about the Weavers and the Mages, she’s learning about history, she’s learning about Saints, he’s lending her books. Apparently he’s got a weakness for classic romances. So shout out to my boy. He’s probably reading the Horny Dragon book.

Aradia: I love that for him.

Bree: Who doesn’t?

Aradia: I love that he criticizes her weakness for adventures. And then the text is like, by the way, he has a weakness for romance. So it’s like –

Bree: Yeah, she had a weakness for dragons, which I think is funny, because –

Aradia: Oh yeah, dragons.

Bree: This character’s other series was a Dragon adventure series. This author, Melanie Rawn’s, big series to date, was a Dragon series. So I think that’s a little –

Aradia: Self insert?

Bree: Little cute wink.

Aradia: Yeah, No, I love that they both have a weakness in their literature preferences. I love this mentor mentee relationship, as much as I don’t like Gorynel Desse. This Rinnel character as a mentor is way cooler.

Bree: Yeah, I actually like him. He almost does feel separate from Gorynel Desse. I mean, he is very method actor, he is living for this role. What do we think about what he is doing? I think in this chapter, the thing that we get the biggest dump on is, he gives us the history finally, which we have been wondering about. Of how the Mage Guardians and the Lords of Malerris, like, became. Or at least he gives us a history because as we are told, this is all supposed to be metaphor and storytelling. Don’t take it too literally, but Cailet likes to take it extremely literally.

Aradia: Yeah, I liked how Melanie Rawn really redid Genesis.

Ali: I loved that because I was just like – I got Cain and Abel vibes very quickly with the first man or second man, I guess they never really named him.

Aradia: Yeah, he was just A man. There was First Daughter –

Bree: First Daughter and First Son.

Ali: And there is some dude.

Aradia: They never even called him first son. Like he’s obviously the first son, but he never even gets the title of First Son. He’s just a man. It’s kind of like how, you know, Cain wandered off and just found a woman.

Ali: Oh there’s so much about that, where I’m like – with Noah and the Arc, how did they repopulate the earth with, like, four people?

Aradia: Because there were other people on a different part of the earth. Obviously. Yeah.

Ali: They didn’t get everybody.

Aradia: Yeah. I loved the retelling of all the cosmology myths, but mainly Genesis, and just kind of like, I mean, it was even reminding me sort of of like the cosmology, like the Clan of the Cavebear interpretation. Of like having woman as the origin point, as the birthing point of all creation and like, how man’s role is to support her, both cosmically and literally.

And I really enjoyed like the way it was delivered as well as the actual, like meta underpinnings of it. And then the way that like, now we have a way to explain the Saints. The Saints are like the children of the first primordial creatures. They are the Olympian gods instead of the Titans. They are those mythic people who claim to be descended from gods, but definitely exist in the historical record, that’s who the Saints are, and it was nice to get that explanation.

Bree: Yeah. So basically First Woman is the one who created all of the world. You know, she made plants and animals in the world and then she was sad because she was lonely. So First Man comes and was awed by everything first mother made because, I mean, that’s the vibe here. Wow. Aren’t you the best? Aren’t you amazing in your ability to create? And I think the line here is: But First Man also felt as all males feel when faced with the power of women’s works. “Teach me to do this,” he begged. But She could not teach First Man to create.

So I think that this is like the complex thesis here, which I got to say, you know, in a world where we’re doing a lot better job at recognizing that like, there are men who can get pregnant and there are women who can’t, and there are non-binary people and there’s a lot of complexity to pregnancy. You know, this is maybe a little bit of an outdated lady power womb thing going on here.

Aradia: But it’s so 90s!

Bree: It is so 90s feminists, so –

Ali: So 90s feminist.

Aradia: Comforting in its classicness.

Ali: Women can make babies, that makes them valuable.

Aradia: The Yoni from which all things spring!

Bree: As someone who has always had a kind of toxic, hostile relationship to her reproductive system, thanks to like, PCOS and endometriosis, I have never been down with that vibe and was like, I would rip this thing out with my bare hands if I could.

Ali: I think a lot of people feel that way.

Bree: So but you know, so that’s the whole thing. So then, First Man was sad because he couldn’t create, and First Woman was like, I know what’ll perk you up! And then they had First Daughter. So then the son comes along and he’s jealous that he can’t create. So we have a murder of First Daughter.

Aradia: I mean, better that than marrying her, I guess? I was worried that’s where thecosmology was going to go: And then incest. And that’s why we have fascist eugenics for our magic. And like I was, I get like, it’s weird to say I’m glad it was a murder, but…

Bree: Yeah. So he killed his sister. He killed First Daughter out of envy of what she could do that he could not.

Ali: Frankly, with it being biblical anything, we should’ve seen that coming. Should have seen that coming.

Aradia: Sure.

Bree: And so First Mother is very sad. And First Father is sad. So they comfort each other. And that’s – yes, the Saints are born, the second children. One per day!

Ali: That’s a lot of comforting

Aradia: So much comforting. One a day?

Ali: One a day.

Bree: We did a lot of math in the discord, trying to figure out how many days there are in this year. And we came out with 386, as mentioned. Second Children were born day after day for a whole year, one after the other, into the sunlight. As each opened eyes of blue or brown or gray or green or black, First Mother and First Man gave loving welcome and listened for the first word to be spoken. Caitiri said Fire and Geridon said Horse and Miramili said Bells and Velenne said Music and so on until all the elements and animals and crafts and arts were named.

Ali: I feel like by the end you’re like, looking – it’s like me doing the compliments on Wheel Takes, where I’m like, I don’t know, what’s in this room? I mean, 365 things?

Bree: So. Yeah, yeah, yeah. 386!

Ali: I’m the patron saint of cork boards.

Bree: Oh, and one thing is that, because these children were being born day after day, First Daughter was reborn, and she spoke the word rebirth.

Aradia: Which is just like what, in the Deus ex Machina?

Ali: That’s a flex.

Aradia: I was so sad. I just brought her back to life. And it’s not necromancy.

Ali: Maybe the patron Saint of the thing I did.

Bree: So, yeah, this is the third truth. Women teach men compassion so that men may comfort women in their inevitable sorrow. I’m not so sure about these truths, but we’ll go with them.

Ali: Being a woman is inevitable sorrow.

Aradia: Inevitable sorrow.

Bree: Yeah. I like how even this feminist take is like, Listen, ladies, it’s going to be a bitch.

Ali: You listen, ladies, you need men.

Aradia: Yes. The only way to get through this cold, hard world.

Ali: Yeah. You need men to manage your emotions. Even in this world, I mean. Hmm. Hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm. No room for nuance.

Bree: So then we have a little thing here about the final son who is Venkelos the Judge, and he is like, Death. And so he has a little like a midlife crisis or early life crisis, a newborn life crisis, about what, you know, the point of death is, if people can be reborn and like. So the way they kind of come out – which I think is an interesting mythology – is Henceforth I will not be so terrible a presence, or so dreaded. I am a man. I cannot create Life. I personify Death. But Gelenis’s rebirth is proof that Life is ever and always returned to You to be renewed. If they will but understand this, I will find peace in their eyes when I come for them. “And that is the Fourth Truth: Venkelos the Judge is not to be feared, for he but returns us to First Mother, who creates and renews Life.

Aradia: So he’s the mushroom god.

Bree: So they’ve got a sort of renewal, rebirth, reincarnation, sort of vibe.

Ali: So women don’t really get to say, like, I brought you into this world, I can take you out? That’s a dude’s job.

Aradia: That’s your father’s job.

Bree: Yeah, that’s Venkelos’ job. He’s going to come get you. So then, of course, we finished this whole story and – okay, this is actually the second story, we jumped from part six to part eight – The first story was the other one. We’ll go back to it. Cailet is immediately like, You already told me this other story where Saint Caitiri was a real person! Now she’s one of these, like, second children! And he’s like, Girl, it’s a metaphor.

Ali: It’s almost as if religious stories can be metaphors. Written by people with political agendas.

Aradia: What? Are you telling me??

Bree: I actually love this exchange because it feels so like the point of religion, which is, you know – she’s like, Why don’t they all fit together? And he’s like, does life fit together? And she’s like, They could at least try to keep their stories straight. And he says, Cailet, dear, getting the story straight, otherwise known as figuring out what you believe, is your problem. And I like that. That’s a take on religion I can get with, you know, just listen to all the stories and then figure out which one of them resonates for you.

Aradia: Yeah, I definitely went through a phase in my life where I’m like, if I learn about all the things, then I can come up with a grand, unified theory, that means that I’m not wrong about whatever I think. And like, it’s definitely been a process of getting to my thirties and being like, well, maybe not that is possible.

Ali: That’s so your thirties!

Aradia: But it’s such a process. Like I get where she’s coming from, she’s 18, she is definitely in the But if I learn it all, I can figure out how it all fits together!

Ali: So I’m going to be the wiser.

Aradia: Yeah, I’m going to do. I’m going to be that.

Ali: I’m going to fix it all. And then you’re in your thirties and you’re like, I’m tired. And then you’re like, I’m going to learn the radical acceptance of, I don’t know.

Aradia: Yeah, right. I’m going to take a nap.

Ali: Yeah, you tell me.

Bree: Oh, let’s circle back to the other story.

Aradia: Yeah. So we had to go to the beginning of the universe in order to talk about how the Mages came into existence. I’m very orderly like that.

Bree: You know. It makes sense. So, this one starts back before the generations, so a.k.a before the Waste War. They talk about how the Mage Guardians pretty much existed and they did what – they worked with the government. It was this, you know, their job was to basically help keep the peace but like, you know, evaluate for truth but not make judgments.

So they could read truth, but they could say, This person is lying, or This person is telling the truth, but they wouldn’t, you know, make recommendations about what you should do about that fact. Basically their whole role was to assist with the government, but not to tell people what to do about it.

Ali: This provided a lot of context as to what happened with the Ambrais. And I felt a little bit smug about it, because I feel like I kind of called it with Auvry. Because this dude totally was one of these little Mage fascists in the making. And went, I want to find power how I can and sneak in here and marry some gal of high blood, and then work my way into a position in government. But then they were like, No, no, we’re not going to change the rules for you, no matter how much that would be convenient. And then he was like, Well then fuck you, I’m going to burn you all to ground.

Bree: Very proportionate response.

Ali: A very proportionate response! And then they were like, So don’t let this guy know he’s got another child.

Bree: Yeah, I mean, hiding Cailet from him is making plenty of sense in this regard. Yeah. Especially as she’s got the like, God tier level Dragon Reborn chosen one magic. Do not let him get his hands on that.

Aradia: Absolutely zot.

Ali: I mean and he took Glenin I think partially in a like, I want to raise her to be a Weaver, and partially in a Fuck you, Ambrai, I’m going to take the valuable member of your family, the daughter prime –

Bree: Yeah, First Daughter Prime.

Ali: It was both. And then they were like, Okay, But we kept Sarra as kind of a counterpoint, counter measure potentially, to whatever he’s going to raise Glenin to be. And then they were like, (mumbles) And also, as a secret added bonus, we also have Cailet! Which will also help us with the whole whatever Glenin is going to be thing. And maybe she can’t go up against two of them, so maybe we should let him know that we have a secret third child because he might see that coming and not like that.

Bree: Yeah.

Ali: Kind of my thought.

Bree: I think he’s got some good thoughts.

Ali: I think I’ve got an all right thought. That’s my theory as to what’s going on here.

Bree: Okay so basically the TLDR of the whole worldbuilding back story is that the Mages used to help the government, but then there was this one Captal Mage who was like, Listen, we can tell if people are telling the truth or not. We’ve got all this power, you know, we would be way more helpful if we just told you what was going on and you know, what people should be doing and –

Ali: Who needs nuance?

Aradia: Nobody.

Bree: I mean, this is my the best way I can perform my duty is by just sort of taking a little more control, and then a little more control. Saint Caitiri, who is the one that Cailet was named after – and also she was mentioned in one of the other ones, in the other in the other story – She’s, I believe, Caitiri the Fiery-Eyed, and I think she’s got a forge.

Ali: Wooo!

Aradia: Yeah! She wields volcanoes in an offensive manner and I love that so much.

Bree: Yes. So she’s the one who told the Captal that there were Mages who were wanting to take control of people. And the Captal was like, Yeah, actually it sounds like a pretty good idea. Let’s do that.

Ali: She’s like, No, no, no. This is supposed to be outrage!

Bree: Yeah. Caitiri was present,representing the majority of Guardians who adhered to the old ways. So basically, they had this huge fight between the Mages arguing whether or not you should basically get to tell everybody exactly what to do with their lives. And really, I think they have a thing in here where they say: Education—how, how much, and who. Which Webs to allow, and which to unravel. How to honor each Saint, and which Saints were worth honoring. Which Bards to support, and which to suppress. What was published in the broadsheets and what could not be. Legend has it they even wished to decide who would marry whom, how many children they ought to have, and whether those children were girls or boys.

Ali: Well, that’s something you can’t control.

Aradia: Well, it can be, if you don’t mind doing selective abortion slash infanticide? You’re only allowed to keep them if they’re the right gender quota.

Ali: But what if this woman can’t? They can’t… But not everyone can have children?

Aradia: Then she’s not good enough for reproduction for the state!

Ali: I hate everything about it! All the way down, there’s shittiness all the way down. It’s all shitty.

Bree: Yeah, Yeah. That’s, that’s, that’s sort of nightmare fuel. Somebody coming up to you and being like, You know what? I know that you’re pregnant and having fun, but we think you should have a boy instead, so. Just ixnay on that. I mean, that’s a horror story you’ve come up with.

Aradia: Yeah. Well, that’s how I feel about fantasy eugenics. Well, about eugenics in general. All the eugenics.

Bree: I guess we’ll see if they’re going to get that dark, won’t we.

Ali: Oh no! Well, I think they do in this chapter.

Bree: So apparently even this fictiona, this ancient Captal is sort of horrified, she was like, Yykes, I just wanted to, like, be a little bossy, y’all are just in on the full fascism!

Ali: So I just wanted to push some of my agendas forward. Like I wanted to get a farmer’s market on my street. Like, I didn’t want this!

Aradia: Right, I was like, I was just trying to be a little evil. And you guys just told me the whole master plan. I’m not so sure about that?

Ali: I was thinking more like a fantasy HOA, this is like – This is actually scary!

Bree: So this old Captal is like, she’s like, Okay, I see the error of my ways now. Everybody is forbidden to do anything to do with public affairs. Mages are forbidden to serve in government. And basically made that the law that continues through this day and that squashed a lot of people’s ambitions. Because you know, she basically was like, Yikes, I saw my mistake. I’m going to make sure none of you people can ever have the power you want.

Ali: And all the ambitious people took that well.

Bree: Very well, very chill.

Ali: Very well. They definitely did not create a secret lair in a volcano.

Aradia: Literally a secret layer in a volcano.

Ali: That’s evil 101. They have a scary secret lair. Probably in a volcano. Probably with sharks.

Aradia: Yeah, totally. I ldo ove, though, that, like, the magic is disrupted by iron, because that’s like one of the oldest rules of magic is that it gets fucked by iron. And it’s like, Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. All magic gets fucked by iron. Freaking volcano? No, you can’t do any magic there. No, no, no.

Bree: So yeah, Caitiri goes up there, and basically there’s this ancient story about her burning away a flood on her forge. And he says that the flood she burned away in the standard tale was this influx of renegade rebel Mages coming to set up in a volcano. And so she defeats them, kills a lot of them. Everybody who survives takes a ship for this island, where they build their little castle, their little castle that has the iron rod tower.

Ali: Can we discuss how dumb that is? That they were like, Oh, this woman’s against us, and she can literally control volcanoes. Here’s where we should put our secret lair against her. Is a volcano. That’s stupid.

Aradia: This will be fine.

Bree: These are the people who want to decide who we all fuck.

Ali: This brain trust over here. So, I mean, if we know anything about people who think they deserve to be the master race, it’s that they’re usually not the brightest bulbs on this planet. Am I wrong or am I wrong? Historically, they’re usually dickheads.

Bree: Well, they proved that. So, yeah, this is supposedly a century before the Waste War, when they built their little castle, which is the castle that they still have to this day, the one that they had the false flag operation in. And so, yeah, they have a tower where they have iron rods all the way up through the tower, so that nobody can tell what they’re doing when they hang out in there, and plot their evil plots. And that’s what they’re doing to this day is hanging out on that tower, plotting their evil plots. Supposedly.

Ali: I like to think they have a little sign outside, that says No Mages Allowed.

Bree: In the little plotty tower.

Ali: They are deeply unserious for doing a volcano as their secret lair! Deeply unserious!

Bree: Definitely No evil Weavers here!

Ali: Exactly! It’s like the most conspicuous place to have a lair.

Bree: We’re going to build a giant castle, on an island, that sticks up.

Ali: It’s going to be our bad boy island.

Aradia: No, you can’t see what we’re doing here. Also, No, you can’t suspect us of doing anything bad. Why would you do that?

Ali: And if you walk in, they’re like, Mom, leave! Mah god!

Bree: So we get these two huge worldbuilding stories. The first one we get while Cailet is building a wall.

Aradia: This wall is so cool. This whole wall thing is so neat.

Ali: The wall was cool.

Aradia: This is her wax on, wax off sequence.

Bree: He sits her down and he’s like, Here’s some cement, here’s some bricks. Yeah, I’m going to tell you a story while you build this wall. And so she spends the whole day listening to him tell these stories and building this wall and sort of is like building it by rote. It all goes by really fast. And she is, you know, building this amazing brick wall just sort of on instinct. And when it’s all over, he’s like, Surpris!. You have also been building a wall in your head. And so this was his way of sort of teaching her to build a mental shield.

Ali: Does this mean he can’t fuck around in her head anymore?

Bree: Well, that is a good question.

Aradia: He says so, but I’m sure there’s a back key, back door key, that he still has, because I don’t trust him. Not that much.

Bree: I guess we’ll have to pay attention to if he messes with her head again after this, because basically he does this little firefly thing, where he’s sort of poking in her head and she can feel it. And he’s like, Well, push me out! And so she imagines this wall and she figures out how to suse this shield wall for a shield to keep him out of her head. And he’s like, Keep doing that. You don’t want anyone else to be able to get in her head either.

Ali: Like Glenin.

Aradia: Right.

Bree: Which is where we get the weird aside where he is talking about his misbegotten days. He used to try to find the place you could poke in the brain that makes ladies happy.

Aradia: Oh, my God. He tried to, like, find this psychic roofie G-spot, and I hate him for it.

Bree: Yeah, the brain G-spot. Yeah.

Ali: I didn’t get that. I didn’t get that until –

Bree: Oh, yeah, yeah.

Aradia: It’s like, I was trying to reach into, like, the lizard brain and get them all horny for me.

Ali: I thought, it is like I was trying to see if women get horny and I couldn’t find it. And I was like, Well, then you are not poking in the right places. But no, that’s worse.

Aradia: I know.

Bree: Here’s the line. While I was young, I quite earnestly pursued a quest for the… um… more primitive urges of the feminine mind.

Ali: A deeply unserious man.

Bree: He’s basically like, Where can I poke? In the brain?

Aradia: Instead of charming I just have to somehow turn them on with magic. It’ll be fine.

Bree: This is probably why nobody married him.

Ali: Yeah, I can’t have a good personality. So I’ve got to figure out a different plan.

Aradia: I can’t have skills, Can’t work on myself.

Ali: I mean, I can’t imagine that, you know, his interests being children’s memories, gets a lot of ladies. I just. I can’t imagine that that’s something where women are like, Oh, sign me up for that creepy motherfucker.

Aradia: Right?

Ali: Yeah, there is no way. And he’s like, Well, I can’t fix my personality. So it got to be something external.

Bree: Well, you know, I mean, and I’m going to say this – and Ali has been reading Court of Thorns and Roses – that magical orgasms are a trope, you got to have a little that mind sex magic. But clearly he was not good at, it so he failed. He couldn’t be a paranormal fantasy romance hero.

Ali: There was some article that came out a while ago where it was like, women are choosing to not – they’re choosing to – they’d rather be alone than be with a guy who sucks.

Aradia: Like that’s a bad thing?

Ali: And they’re like, Men should change their personality. If they see this happening to themselves, and all of this outrage was like, How dare women have standards? Even the article itself framed it like, Women are being weird.

Bree: Isn’t it strange that we gave them financial independence and now they’re not sticking with shitheads?

Ali: Now they want nothing to do with us?

Aradia: Bizarre! I thought they were rational.

Ali: There are so many great men out there. But.

Bree: So yes, we don’t know how much, he tells her a little bit about how he became a Mage.

Aradia: I love that he’s self-taught. This makes me trust him despite all the child mind fuckery. The part where he’s like, I’m basically self taught. I was not from an Ivy League.

Bree: If we can believe that!

Aradia: If we can believe that, that makes me trust him more, because I don’t like any of the institutional powers in this book so far, they’re all bad.

Bree: I feel like it’s hard to know for sure what we can trust of what he’s saying, because he’s method acting real hard.

Ali: But I’m also going to be like, there was no formal education that taught you to fuck with children’s memories. So we’re just poking into children’s heads at random?

Bree: Maybe you don’t want to be self taught for that, I don’t know.

Aradia: Maybe I’m overselling the self taught bit.

Bree: No, I mean, I think it’s complicated. He’s definitely a complex set of ethics.

Ali: Like I hear you about the institution thing, but I’m also like, So you just started doing that one day?

Aradia: I mean, how do you think we got medicine?

Ali: True. (laughs) Because that’s true. Weren’t we like building on things that we saw beforehand, like proving or disproving – I guess somebody who at some point one day was like, I wonder what happens if I stick my finger in that? And like, I just go, is that a testament?

Bree: He’s really good at messing with memories. So, I mean, I guess the question is, yeah, definitely.

Ali: But who was the guinea pig?

Bree: Maybe he started with adults? Really shitty ones. I don’t know.

Ali: Really shitty ones. That’s what you hope.

Bree: That’s the prayer at this point.

Ali: Oh, like I hope you practiced on someone who wasn’t a child.

Bree: Oh, Gorynel Desse. Like, I’m going to tell you that as many times as I’ve read this, I’ve always kind of loved him. But this is the first time I’ve been going slowly through the book and I’m like, Oh my God, Gordynel Desse, we need to take you to ethics school immediately. Life jail!

Ali: I kind of love, he gives Merlin vibe. He gives off a quirky Merlin, we all love all a quirky Merlin vibe. You know, We love that. But I feel we’re experiencing something similar with the Wheel of Time, where we’re reading through it so slowly that occasionally Gus is like, I didn’t notice, because I was reading so fast. Now that we are reading it at a snail’s pace, there are some things where he’s just like, Ahh!.

Bree: Oh yeah, yeah. And I’m discussing it too. Like a lot of my 15 year old first impressions are just going to always be sort of the things that stick with me. So discussing it is forcing me to look at it from 43 going, Yikes, old man. We got to discuss what you’re doing.

Ali: Well, when you’re 15, you’re not thinking about it from an adult perspective, where it’s like, This is aman who’s just like, I’mma poke in the child’s brain and see what happens.

Bree: He’s just doing it for their own good. And now I’m an adult, I’m like, Listen, let me decide which memories you’re going to take away for my own good. Please.

Ali: Yeah. And I think especially as ADHD people, where our memories aren’t the best in the first way. So I’m going to hold on to what I have.

Aradia: I’m honestly, just take me to a concert. I’ll forget everything you told me today.

Ali: Exactly! You know, you don’t have to worry. I’ll forget this sentence. No problem. I’ll forget at the end of the sentence. I won’t know what we’re talking about. I wasn’t paying attention. I was probably thinking about what I want for lunch.So? Yeah. I don’t know. I don’t know about this Desse guy. Again. I still don’t know about Desse guy. I feel like he’s supposed to be good, but there are things about him that I’m like, Mm hmm. Bree’s like, Don’t hate on my fave!

Bree: No! I mean, I’m the one who’s, like, Just, jail! In the summaries at this point.

Ali: Jail.

1:36:00 Music break – Some more fantasy eugenics talk

Bree: I was going to skip over this part. But now, like, since our discord has literally just had like a three day chat about galazhi, galezhi? What are we calling these? We got to pick a pronunciation for this gazelle animal.

Ali: The deer thing?

Bree: Yeah. Galazhi, I’m going to go with.

Ali: Galazhi.

Bree: Galazhi. Yeah. Like I feel like we should not skip over, because they’re very invested in them.

Aradia: Oh, yeah. The Discord is very invested in figuring out the exact anatomy, and the horn style. And it’s been great.

Ali: I believe that was my husband’s fault. I believe he initially started that with going, What the Hell?

Bree: No, There were already Photoshop fan arts by the time he showed up.

Ali: Oh, wow. People love a weird animal. That’s what we’re learning.

Bree: So we come across one who has poisoned herself basically, by drinking bad water. And then, very sad, she was dragging herself toward this plant that would fix her. And I think there’s like a metaphor in that, that we’re supposed to, you know, that she knew what was there. She knew it was going to fix her. She was trying to get to it. And Cailet is like, Now you’re going to tell me this story and link this to, you know, some learning thing –

Aradia: Teachable moment!

Bree: Teachable moment. So they were talking about this person called the Grand Duchess, who has come up a couple of times in reference. Which is like 100 years ago, some chick decided she was basically going to – you know, it wasn’t enough to just have one Shir and like, be a, you know, First Daughter or whatever. She was going to be a grand duchess. So we have not seen anybody – we’ve seen Ladies, but nobody has had any other sort of peerage. Like First Daughter of the blood is basically the top. And then you can be like the First Counselor or be on the assembly or something, but there’s no other peerage. So this grand duchess thing is like a total new invention. She’s like, I’m a more important blood person than you. And she started a little war trying to do this.

Ali: Inevitable. Inevitable.

Bree: So actually, it couldn’t have been 100 years ago because, no, Murder Punch Card Lady basically came to power by defeating her. I think she was trying to pick up – well, somebody had done like a couple hundred years ago. But yes, defeating her is how Murder Punch Card Lady came to power. So, yeah, basically this final chapter, this fantasy eugenics come back.

Aradia: Uuurgh, and now we get confirmation that infanticide is totally part of how they do fantasy eugenics.

Bree: Yeah. Basically, Cailet wakes up in the middle of the night and it’s dark, and she’s scared, so she’s like, building this wall against fear, and that sort of works. So she gets out of bed and uses her superpower to once again stumble into some eavesdropping.

Ali: She loves to eavesdrop.

Aradia: Like a moth to the flame.

Ali: Me too, honestly.

Bree: She finds Solingirt, her crazy old man of Crackwall Canyon, Rinell is is taking a baby from Lady Lilen and rushing away. And so Lilen figures out she’s there and she’s like, Well, crap, I might as well tell you because you’re always lurking in every corner. Literally.

Ali: Did we, did anybody else when they started talking about like, Oh, yeah, here’s all the bad eugenics things, and then you do the thing where you’re like, Well, I would have died!

Bree: I well, I got that one and I got, oh! I got that one too.

Ali: That one. I got that one. I got, I got a little bit of this one and I got that one.

Bree: Yeah. So they basically, what has happened was, that a few days ago a slave had given birth at Scraller’s big mansion place, and the boy had a maimed foot, the twisted foot and with a heelers help it was probably very easy, something that that could be fixed and the kid might have a tiny limp, but it would otherwise be fine.

Ali: And that’s so shitty. The kid’s born with a tiny limp!

Bree: Yeah, they were going to murder the kid over a limp.

Aradia: Over a limp!

Ali: And they’re like, Oh, God forbid. You know, you have to have glasses before you’re in your sixties. And I’m like, I started wearing glasses at two. So I would have been massively murdered for having been cross-eyed. It’s great. It’s wild.

Bree: Yeah. So we basically find out that, yeah, it is pretty much common practice not only to just like, lightly murder the baby, the healers will just sort of do it for you. But some healers will go so far as to sterilize a woman who gives birth. Which when you talk about the power structure, that’s like a huge swing.

Aradia: Wild. That’s a huge invasion. And yeah, yeah, you think in a matriarchy, sterilization would be not a thing that can be done without their consent. But apparently, some healers know better.

Ali: Well, you’d also think post-natal care would be pretty good, and like, prenatal care would be pretty good where they could see this stuff coming beforehand. You know, like there’s a lot of it!

Bree: They’ve got magic, but they don’t seem to have, like, ultrasounds.

Ali: And this is always my issue with magical matriarchies, is they never have good prenatal care. Why not? That’d be like your first priority.

Aradia: Right? Yeah.

Bree: This is our evidence that this is still an ongoing issue, serious and widespread. And there are people like Lilen who are like, trying to help. They have this underground system where they take the kids away to somewhere safe. And some of them, you know, grow up like they mentioned, someone who had a birthmark on her scalp.

Aradia: A birthmark! I was born with a big ass strawberry birthmark on my forehead. I would have just been like, what? Right into the dumpster, just like?

Ali: And they go away most of the time.

Bree: Yeah. So that is, like, basically. I mean, yeah, everything, like, you know, from a tiny bad hearing, bad sight, birthmark, everything. So, yeah, this is. This is. This is shit! I feel like there’s not much to say, except for this is total shit.

Ali: Can I ask this also in terms of like, just practicality perspective. I don’t want to, like, go down the practicality path of eugenics too much. It’s just it’s all very impractical and also dumb and bad. But I, I’m like, Where does it stop? Because they’re like, well, at some point, like if you get injured, obviously that’s fine.

Ali: But I’m like, But there are certain genetic things that don’t pop up until later in life, like things that don’t appear until you’re quite down the road, right? Like, they didn’t figure out that I needed glasses til I was two. So at what point are we like stopping, with this practice? Like at what point are we like, Well, she’s already there, we could explain this away.

Bree: I just feel it would be pretty hard to like, you know, come to some parents and be like, Well, I know you got attached in the last two years, but. So I feel that probably it happens a lot. And I think that probably it’s a dreadful secret. Like they mentioned even in the Ostins, one of the kids can’t see well unless they’re seated in the front of the class. And even though Lilen is literally running this underground, the kid still doesn’t have glasses.

Ali: That’s so dumb.

Aradia: And I feel like they’re whatever the magic thing is that got introduced to the world that made it so they had to do this, like, culling thing way back when. They don’t understand how it’s propagating. They are not actually doing the eugenics strategy that they would need to have this work. So like, they just lost the plot and they’re just being punitive and small minded and hypocritically irrational about it. Like whatever the original trigger is, like they have lost the plot.

Bree: It is absolutely just ridiculous. Like, I don’t want to say that there was ever any like – because I feel like that’s the problem. I’m not going to say that there was ever a time when this was good. But whatever they think they’re doing, they’re not accomplishing it. And they’re also still being terribly evil.

Aradia: Exactly. They’re not even following through with their own premise in a way that makes sense. Whether or not the premise is correct, they aren’t even doing it right.

Ali: It’s again, one of those things where I go, You don’t look at yourself killing babies and think like, maybe we’re the bad guys, maybe we’re fucking up? Maybe we zigged when we should have zagged. There’s no point at which you’re like, You know what, y’all? I think that if we’re killing babies, we’re probably the problem. I just don’t understand how you get there and go and rationalize it to yourself.

Aradia: Because you’re prioritizing the whole over the parts, right? It’s the whole like, the system functions, the trains run on time. The books are in the black, therefore everything’s fine. And you’re ignoring the reality of all the parts. But like, if that’s your priority structure, then it’s internally consistent? At least?

Ali: Well, thank God.

Bree: Well, I think at this point they’re so far and deep that like, what are they going to do, admit to – and I mean, this is sort of implied, that they’re in so deep that their entire identity as a culture rests on this. Like, what are you going to do? Be like, Whoops, we’ve just been murdering babies this whole time for nothing! So they’ve got like a real investment in believing – both like the most powerful people have, the most investment in believing that this was a just system that justly decided that they were the best.

Ali: The sunk cost fallacy strikes again.

Bree: Oh, yeah. And then the rest of them just don’t want to believe that they’ve been doing this horrible shit, I’m sure, this whole time. But clearly there are some people who are like, maybe we shouldn’t be killing babies? So that’s good at least.

Ali: Lilen clearly is like, This is wrong.

Bree: The resistance is like, This is not great.

Aradia: And so in Glenin’s post Tier, post Blood society, are we still a baby killing society?

Bree: They still seem to be, because, I mean, I think everybody still knows what everybody else is. And it’s still, no matter what, if, you know, your daughter pops out like, you know, a baby who is in some way going to make your family look bad, then nobody’s going to want to marry you. So I think that that’s still – when you’ve based your entire self-worth on this thing, you’re sort of trapped.

Ali: Here’s my issue with like, I’m all for like, burn it all down. I’m all for it. But Glenin is like, I’m going to burn it all down and basically do the same thing, but different. But like, so that it benefits me to do exactly. But exactly the same.

Aradia: The same just with the serial numbers filed off. Like, that’s not different!

Ali: I’m doing the same thing, but I can’t get traffic tickets. Like that.

Aradia: Totally. Yeah. If she was like, I don’t believe that we should be killing babies, and so I’m going to burn it down. And have the first law of the constitution be, No killing babies.

Ali: I’d be so supportive!

Aradia: So supportive. But instead she’s like, I get to decide which babies get killed. Nobody else. That was the true injustice.

Bree: Well, and then I think Glenin’s idea of fixing this is, We won’t kill the babies. We’ll just put them somewhere and sterilize them and make sure they can’t participate in society or make any choices about who they are. And I’m like, Glenin!

Aradia: Just kill them. Honestly.

Bree: You’re not making strides.

Aradia: It’s like, Oh, we’ll just sterilize them and keep them uneducated and underfunded and separated from society. We’re the good guys. No, no, no.

Ali: It’s the same but different. Wow.

Aradia: No. That is literally just a living death. Fuck all the way off.

Bree: Very much not great here. Not a great existing system. And the people who are trying to currently, quote unquote, overthrow it, or continue to consolidate it, want a worse system somehow. So that’s not great.

Ali: Not awesome. No.

Bree: And that is what we have mostly learned. Cailet does decide, she gets in her head that maybe she was one of these babies. Like, that’s why she’s an orphan.

Ali: Well, I feel like that would be a natural kind of transition thought, right? Because she’s like, I’m a mysterious orphan.

Bree: Yeah.

Aradia: Yeah.

Bree: She’s a mysterious orphan. So maybe there was something wrong with her that got fixed. And, you know..

Ali: And I was called a changeling during a weird racist tirade by Geria. So I would probably also have the same thing?

Bree: So basically, she finally tells Rinnel this, and he’s like, Oh, no, you crazy kid. You were perfect, perfect and beautiful.

Ali: Which, the phrasing of that isn’t great, but.

Aradia: Yeah, we’ll take it because it’s where we’re at. But nah, not great.

Ali: Facing it. That was a little rough.

Bree: Yeah. And so here we get – Rinnel either tells her a whopper of a lie, or a deeply metaphorical truth, which was that her father died at Ambrai.

Ali: What a lie!

Aradia: I mean, I feel like that was kind of the like, He became a different person.The man I knew died at Ambrai! It felt a little like Star Wars drama.

Bree: Yeah. Like, it’s like Obi-Wan saying, you know, Darth Vader killed your father.

Aradia: Yes, that.

Ali: I’m going to be real. There is a member of my family that had that happen. They thought they grew up their whole lives thinking that – I was not around or involved in this – but they grew up their whole lives thinking that their father had died in the war, and really they just went away. They just like ran off and then found out that they had a dad when their uncle got drunk at a party.

Bree: Oh my God.

Aradia: Oh shit. The worst way to find out

Ali: Very dramatic. So having had that happen in my family? Can’t recommend it. It doesn’t end well for anyone. No one likes that.

Aradia: I surprised! Sounds like it would have gone great.

Ali: It fucks people up. Fucks people up pretty badly. Don’t do that.

Bree: So yeah, he’s like, well, we’ve got the Mom died of a broken heart again and then your dad died at Ambrai.

Aradia: So Gorynel Desse is lying. He’s not wrong. He’s lying. He definitely knows that Auvry didn’t die.

Bree: He absolutely knows. But also, maybe, maybe to him he did. Maybe the Auvry he knew before died in Ambrai. And he considers him a different person now.

Aradia: I think Detective Ali’s right about Auvry always having been corrupted to the core. And if Gorynel was taken in by that, then he’s half the intelligence that we’re giving him.

Ali: Oh, yeah, I feel like this is a lot of bullshit justification to yourself, to once again alter the memories or knowledge of a child, in just a different but same vibe.

Bree: Definitely happy to lie.

Aradia: Liar, Liar, pants on fire.

Ali: Fuck with people’s memories. He just loves to fuck with the brains of children.

Aradia: Liar, Liar, I’ll set your synapses on fire.

Bree: Gorynel Desse. Oh, boy. So, Cailet says that when Taig – When the The Rising, I think we’ve started to see this more and more. We saw it in, like, Sarra’s point of view, but I’m not sure if we actually, like, called it out. They have a name for their revolution, which is the Rising.

Ali: That’s pretty cool.

Aradia: It’s a good name.

Ali: Good name. When they workshopped that – because I think about this stuff all the time, because that stuff never comes out of nowhere, right? – and everybody’s sat around.

Bree: They have a hashtag, Hashtag Rising.

Ali: They had a little think tank moment. They’re like, What should we call ourselves?

Bree: So yes, Cailet is sure that when the Rising wins, Taig will stop all the baby murder. And, you know, he’s like, Sure, yes, I will stop all the baby murder.

Ali: He seems anti baby murder.

Bree: Yes.

Aradia: She’s really just hoping that he’ll, you know, get a baby going in her.

Ali: Ugh! A child!

Aradia: She’s 18 now.

Bree: She’s 17. But yeah, she is 17 at least.

Ali: A youth!

Bree: She is a youth.

Aradia: She’s a youth. She is one of the youths. But youth have terrible visions for their futures.

Ali: They try.

Bree: So we end this basically with, you know, he said basically what I did, that the identity of society is based on the idea that this whole Bloods and Tiers thing works. So nobody can really let it go, because then they’ve got to face what they did and for no reason. And so they just rather believe that it was all –

Aradia: Reparations? Absolutely not.

Ali: No, people hate that.

Aradia: No, hate is so much.

Ali: People hate accountability.

Bree: We end this with Gorynel Desse being like, Okay, let’s stop talking about serious things. Tell me about, you know, Val’s hot mom. And how many boyfriends does she have? He’s just not going to stop scamming on all the older ladies in town.

Aradia: Such a lecher.

Bree: He appreciates a MILF. He’s. He’s got a –

Ali: I mean, who does?

Aradia: And at least it is age appropriate. At least he is sticking within like a generation of his own.

Bree: The last line of this is: Ah, to be sixty again!

Aradia: Right. He’s like in his seventies hitting on 50 year olds, like, sir. But hey, I mean 50 year olds can do what they want, they’re fine.

Bree: I think the 50 year olds can handle him, since they’re mostly just shutting him down.

Aradia: They’re clearly having it under control.

1:54:43 – Let’s talk about internalized biases

Bree: So and that is how we end part one. That is our four character back story run. You guys did it!

Ali: But again, again, isn’t it uncommon, again, isn’t it supposed to be uncommon for older men to be with younger women in this world?

Bree: Yes?

Ali: But again, we have it.

Bree: Ali, I need you to get your own older man, younger woman, punch card. See if you get a free sub by the end of this.

Ali: I think I’m three for three, so I think I’ve at least three for three, of moments where she said there’s a role reversal, but she hasn’t followed through on that role reversal. Yeah. With all due respect.

Aradia: Yeah. I was thinking that with the slap scene, too actually. Like, Huh, well, that’s a scene that doesn’t feel out of place in a normal, like, fantasy setting, but you would expect it to be different in the role reversal. Like, I was literally expecting her to slap him because of the role reversal, then when he slapped her, it was like –

Bree: Well, you know, but I would say – the slap specifically. Because a slap is not something you generally think of as a manly thing to do. Like this is like Faile slapping Perrin. You know, like generally speaking, slaps, I tend to think of as the, you know, being a little bit of a less –

Ali: Well, I feel like, okay, here’s what I feel like. I feel like when men slap women in literature, it’s like a backhand. Like a hand across the mouth. So there’s something feminine about the forward that is not inherently feminine about the backwards?

Bree: I do feel like it’s very gendered in a weird way.

Ali: They’ll say he struck her. Right? Where it’s like –

Aradia: And it’s to, like, shut her up because she’s talking too much, which is classic. Like, You’re a hysterical woman, shut up!

Ali: Shut up. Yeah.

Bree: Yeah. No, I know. I think it’s interesting. I think that we could unpack that scene a lot. I mean, Cailet is terrified of consequences for it because basically he struck someone – like you don’t hit a woman! I think Cailet even thinks about how she’s never seen someone hit a woman before.

Aradia: Right. And she’s worried about consequences coming down on him.

Ali: I felt complex about this situation for sure. I was like, Did she deserve to get hit? Totally. She sucks. She’s the worst. I’m like, But am I in favor of a man going up to a woman, slapping her?

Bree: Do we want Melanie Rawn to make us cheer for slapping women? No.

Ali: Is this the future we’re fighting for?

Aradia: Right? And then, yeah. You get to the end and it’s like, I didn’t even notice that we’re having the age difference, being classic rather than role reversal. Like complex feelings.

Bree: This is something that I think is like – as much as I really love this book and I think that it holds up surprisingly well on a lot of fronts for a book from like 1994 – I think that no matter who you are, and I was saying this on the Discord the other night, I am hyper aware. Like it took me years to stop defaulting – If I had to put a background warrior fighter character, just defaulting them to be men. Even though I explicitly write books about badass women kicking ass, because there’s something about like what you see and what is normalized. And like when you’re thinking about your main characters, it’s much easier because you’re putting so much more conscious thought into what story you’re telling. But then when you slide into the background, it’s so much easier to fill, to populate this world with stuff that just feels correct.

Ali: Yeah.

Bree: And the stuff that feels correct is almost never good because we have just internalized what we’ve seen. And what we’ve seen has been an extremely biased and slanted world.

Ali: It’s yeah, it’s hard when you’re writing because I’ll always be sitting there going, okay, What’s my default instinct? Why is that my default instinct? Is there a way that I can do this in a more, just what I think, in a more interesting way.

Bree: Yeah it’s constantly for me, every time like I have a teacher. Okay. Am I defaulting that to a woman? Do I have a mayor, am I defaulting that to a man? I’ve a doctor, am I defaulting that to a woman? You know, I have a baker, am I defaulting that to a woman, am I defaulting different jobs? You know, I’m constantly thinking, Am I subconsciously putting, you know, a gendered spin on things?

Ali: Yeah, even how they respond emotionally. I’ll be like, Hmm, is there another decision that I can make to this, than it’s how I would expect them to respond. But even then, sometimes you start to risk getting beyond into an unbelievable territory for some people?

Bree: Yeah.

Aradia: Yeah.

Ali: Yeah. Where then you start to get notes that are like, I don’t believe they would act this way. And then you start to go, Well, is that because you would expect them based on society to act this way?

Aradia: Right.

Bree: Oh, trust me. When Tor dropped my books, thhere were a lot of These are not toxic masculinity enough people, you know?

Ali: Yeah.

Bree: Fighter men don’t have feelings. They don’t care about people ever. And I’m like, you know, I don’t know if that’s entirely true. I don’t know. I’ve read like a 4.5 million word series where a dude was having a lot of feelings about war. So maybe, maybe we should just not –

Ali: Devaluate?

Bree: I think that as we go through this, it’s good to point out things like where you say, Yeah, this is a thing that doesn’t happen very often, but then it keeps happening, because it sort of slips through the cracks. And so, yeah, a lot of a lot of men are hitting on older women, even though we have said that sort of thing.

Aradia: Younger, younger.

Bree: Younger women. Sorry. Yeah. A lot of men are hitting on younger women.

Ali: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s interesting. It’s interesting. I just Yeah. And it happens to everybody. It’s like, you’re born into the society you’re born into, and then you just try to resist as much as you can, but, you know, there are certain touchstones that are hard to get past.

Aradia: Yeah, for sure. I mean, like, I was raised by parents that were very conscious of what media they let me consume. And so I’ve taken that consciousness – like I try to anyway – into the media I consume. As like a person choosing my own stuff. Like I’m not a creator, but I try to be aware of how things get put together. And I like patterns. So I see patterns and I make note of the things that surprised me. Like, That’s a trope reversal, or That’s pandering, or That’s unbelievable. And so often I unpack it and I’m like, It’s me that’s being ridiculous. It’s not the media. The media is actually being refreshing. And what’s striking me about it is the fact that it’s breaking these expectations that have been set, despite all of the deliberate, like, I’m going to consume different media, I’m going to like under my biases! And then every time something pings to me, like, well, that’s an interesting choice! It’s because I have biases that make it seem unusual. Every time!

Bree: It feels weird. And I do think that’s especially when you’re not used to reading outside of your perspective, like white people are so used to – or we have just been, you know. It’s so easy for us to go through our lives and never read something that wasn’t written by a white person. And so, like, you know, I think that when you pick up something that was written by a person of color or a black authors, you know, sometimes you’re like, wow, Well, this is not what I expected. And then people will go in there and get hypercritical. Like if you look at the reviews –

Ali: Oh my gosh.

Bree: Just nit picking and weird. I don’t like this and I don’t like that. And it’s like, maybe this is just the first time in your life you haven’t been centered in a narrative and you’re not comfortable with it.

Ali: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s so true. I remember that when they were casting Brooklyn Nine-Nine, this is like a kind of random example. But Stephanie Beatriz found out that Melissa Fumero had been cast as Amy prior to finding out that she’d been cast, and she assumed that then that meant that they weren’t casting her, because she was like, there couldn’t be two Latina women on the same show. She was like, There usually is only one, so she assumed she did not get cast. And it was like to her, one of the first signs that, you know, in a show that wasn’t necessarily about Latin people, that suddenly it was like, oh, I’m part of – there can be more than one. And to me, that’s like, that’s so wild. But also, you know, just paying attention to how often there are shows where there’s like one woman. There’s one person of color.

Aradia: Quotas, and tokens.

Ali: And I think it’s fun to kind of go like, Ooh, there’s always points where we can like, check ourselves a little bit and go, Is this something that I’m seeing as a default? And why is that the default for me?

Bree: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s so good for us to do.

Aradia: Yeah. I mean, yes. Is it work to have every single character description come with a little mental asterisk of, Did you remember to picture them as not white? It is work, but like it’s good worthy work and it gets easier with time. Like, I mean, yeah, this book has a lot of brown skin characters, but I’m thinking especially of Broken Earth by N.K. Jemison, which like gets a lot of criticism for using a present second person tense, which is just a really refreshing, interesting voice. But lots of people like to say it’s not good because of that. But she makes a big point about how there’s very, very few white people in it. And I’m reading the books multiple times and like, it’s still so, so hard to not picture all of them as white. It’s so difficult. And so it does make reading the books more work, but it is worthy and helpful and it gets easier.

Bree: Yeah. Oh, and by the way, I’m not sure we called this out in the first section, but we did discuss it on Discord, which is that Collan, in his first point of view, basically explicitly says that almost everybody in this world is brown and that there are people who are – there are very rare, like exceptions, people who are very pale are people who are very dark skinned, but that the average person is brown. And that it’s not even necessarily connected to hair color, he is a brown-ish skinned redhead. And I think that, because Niki is someone who was like looking it up, we are looking at evidence like, you know, they tell him to tan in the sun until his skin is as brown as it is, to hide that tattoo. So it’s like, even though he’s a redhead, it’s pretty explicit that he is not pale skinned. And it’s pretty explicit that like lots of other people aren’t. And I think that that’s something that can get missed. Even though she does introduce people with their skin color very often. So I mean, it’s definitely worth looking. But I mean, I think it’s also worth – I’ll be interested to see, because I know that we have readers of color reading along with us, what they think about how she manages to pull it off. Because, you know, white ladies, which I am one, we can do our best, but we can also step in shit.

Ali: Oh, everyone can.

Aradia: We can do both. We can contain multitudes.

Bree: Yes. And we should. Because as I am constantly saying, my goal is to help create a world where my books age badly.

Ali: Wouldn’t that be lovely?

Aradia: Yes. And so here we are trying to make a world where our podcast takes will age badly.

Bree: Yes, exactly. We’re doing our best.

Ali: One day people will say, they didn’t even unpack this! Yeah, you’re right. We didn’t. You’re right. We fucked up. We’re growing and learning, too.

Bree: Every day. I mean, wouldn’t it be boring if you weren’t.

Ali: All the time.

Aradia: Yeah, it’d be weird to be perfect for the next hundred years and then just die without having changed. That would be weird.

Ali: I feel like you’re doing life wrong if you died after 100 years being like, I was perfect and all my takes were correct, right?

Aradia: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So we have to be wrong now.

Bree: So you’re like the most boring person on Twitter, is what you said.

Ali: That blue checkmark that you paid for.

2:07:02 Wrap up

Bree: Okay, you guys, do you have any final thoughts about Cailet, our little desert waste-ling orphan?

Aradia: She’s my favorite.

Ali: I’m excited for her and Sarra to get together. And again, how is Collan related to that? Because now three of them are related.

Bree: Yes.

Ali: And Collan’s just a fourth wheel.

Bree: He’s the boy, remember? There’s always like, a token girl. So maybe he’s the token boy.

Aradia: It’s like circle of magic.

Ali: Yeah, but he’s got to have something to do with the rest of them, because we can’t have three sisters and Cllan.

Aradia: He can’t have all of – He can’t be boyfriend to all of them. That would be weird.

Ali: Yeah, exactly. A man with three girlfriends. Oh, Wheel of Time. Anyways. I feel like. Yeah, I’m like, Is he a half sibling? Like, I mean, obviously the Ambrai, Ostin of it all means probably he’s related, but how closely?

Bree: Yeah, the family tree is complicated.

Ali: I feel like there’s going to be an episode where you’re like, Here’s where Collan fits in, because we finally found out.

Bree: The very special expanding – this family tree cannot get much wider. I’m like, running out of ability. I have to keep making the Photoshop file wider.

Ali: Yeah, it’s stressing you out because you’re like, I have to fit Collan in here somewhere. Oh, what was Avery doing before he was hooking up with what’s her face? Do they have a half sibling floating about, a redheaded past?

Aradia: Yeah, I’m trying with the genealogy stuff. I’m less interested in that and I’m much more interested in all this magic stuff. I’m really interested in, like, the magic that’s going wild in, like, what happens when these teenagers finally get the magic shackles taken off their heads. Like, I really want to understand this cosmology between where the magic came from and why it got corrupted, and why it inevitably turns people into fascists. The origin of the magic and how it’s going to manifest through our little changeling POV. Who is now my favorite. Sorry, Sarra, you’ve been displaced. That’s what’s really intriguing me. And I’m like –

Bree: I mean, she’s under pressure. She is apparently the magic bomb. So are we ready for her to go off?

Ali: It surprises me not at all, Aradia, that you are like all about the magic system and how things are working and how that is happening. And I think it should surprise noone that I’m like, Where are the girls? There’s a mystery. I must solve it.

Aradia: We are. We are a good match set of having different strengths.

Ali: Different priorities, different strengths. Like where are the girls? Where did they go?

Aradia: I’m like, Why are the girls?

Ali: Girls can’t just vanish? And why are the girls.

Bree: Well, I’m going to tell you that for next time, for next week, we are on to part two.

Aradia: I’m excited. We’ve graduated from the Prologue.

Bree: The first section is called Ladders, so we know that something is going to happen with these Ladders that we have heard a little bit about so far. And for everyone following along, we’re going to read of Ladders and breaking that section, I think in half. We’re going to read parts one through six. So it’s about pages 209 through 245 in the Kindle e-book.

Ali: Okay. 209 to 245.

Bree: Yeah. So sections one through six of Ladders.

Ali: All right. The story begins!

Bree: We are now, we have passed the Prologue. And if you stuck with this for 200 pages, thank you. Because we have now given this book 200 pages to heat up, and I think it’s about to pop off.

Ali: Definitely.

Aradia: Yeah. And if you’ve listened to us this far, this means you’ve listened to probably, like, seven plus hours of content. So clearly you’re invested in this journey with us. Thank you.

Bree: Yay! And if you don’t belong to our discord yet, please join, because we are having amazing discussions. I think that this week they went deep on –

Ali: The deer?

Bree: The deer.

Aradia: All the horn varieties.

Bree: How many days there are in the calendar, and also how many weeks and how long the days are, for hours. So we definitely got some time stuff going on.

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *