Welcome to episode 5 of the Hot Nuance Book Club, where we are climbing the first half of Ladders in The Ruins of Ambrai (pages 209-245). We start with a digression into the blurb on the back of the book, then turn our attention to all the discomfort that is a “marriage market.” We discuss paternity rights there and here, and experience Aradia having their first real cliff-hanger moment as a first time reader!
== Buy the Ebook ==
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ruins-of-ambrai-melanie-rawn/1101213569?ean=9781101666319
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 Aradia | Fox And Raven Media
0:00:00 Welcome, introduction, and patron shout outs
Ali: Welcome to the Hot Nuance Book Club, a podcast in which a novelist, a screenwriter and a podcaster walk into a book, diving into its craft and impact in their mission to bring nuance back. I’m Ali and I’m a screenwriter and a podcaster, co-host of Wheel Takes Podcast that is currently breaking down the Wheel of Time and The Hunger Games.
I also have written an episode of Rugrats that’s coming out later this year. So excited!
Aradia: I’m Aradia. I am one half of the Wheel of Time Spoilers Podcast, which is currently reading Crossroads of Twilight, as well as a podcast producer for Fox and Raven Media.
Bree: And I am Bree. I am one half of the bestselling romance and sci fi fantasy author Kit Rocha, and we are currently deep in the writing cave, writing our second fantasy book about a very horny dragon. And the first one comes out in November, so please preorder it if you like horny dragons.
Aradia: Don’t we all?
Ali: Don’t we all. Currently, we’re nuancing our way through the Ruins of Ambrai. So if you haven’t read that yet – Ambrai? One day I’m going to get that right – Go do that and come back when you have. For the rest of you, let’s break it down now.
Bree: But before we jump into the time machine this week, we have something to announce. We have a Patreon now!
Bree: Yes, all of our episodes obviously are going to remain free. But if you’d like to access an ad free version of them, you can support this at Patreon.com/theHotNuanceBookclub; and the link will be in the episode notes.
Aradia: There are also more levels where you can get such fun rewards as secret Discord channels, stickers, an invite to an end of book, live via zoom, book club with us, and of course, Patreon shout outs!
Ali: This week we have seven new patrons to thank. First off, thank you to our new Hot and Hotter Nuance patrons, Anna or Anna, whichever you prefer (whee, that’s me! Hello!), Star Shine Down, and Brooke!
Bree: We also have four Hottest Nuance patron- Patren- wow.
Ali: It’s a hard word.
Bree: That is a hard word. I’m just going to let you leave that in there if you want, Aradia. Everyone should know I can not speak. We also have four Hottest Nuance patrons to induct into our haul of official titles. Since this is the first time we’re doing it, I will explain how this works: For those who pledge at the hottest nuance level, we’re going to grant you an official Hot Nuance Book Club title that is themed based on whatever book we happen to be reading at the time. Right now, thanks to Melanie Rawn, anyone who pledges that this level will be given their own official Saint title, and we will decide what you are the patron saint of.
Aradia: You’re welcome.
Bree: Yes. This week, please welcome our four official additions to the calendar of Saints: Saint Lurkz. Patron saint of otters holding hands.
Ali: So true.
Bree: Saint Chelsea, the patron saint of sitting comfortably but incorrectly in a chair.
Aradia: My personal favourite.
Bree: Yes. Saint Holly, the patron saint of popping bubble wrap. And Saint Sarra, one of our romance authors on the server, who is, of course, the patron saint of When they get the last room at the inn and there’s only one bed.
Ali: Only one bed is one of my favorite tropes for sure.
Bree: It is a good one. So thank you to all of our new patrons. You are going to help us support, at the moment, helping us have transcripts which we really, really appreciate because it makes the podcast more accessible for everybody.
0:03:49 The time machine and blurb talk
So having said that, it is time to jump into the time machine. Please keep your hands and your feet inside the car as we travel back to 1994! And back here in 1994, the first group of women who were assigned to a U.S. Navy combat ship reported for duty. Pearl Jam canceled the 1994 summer tour after they found out that Ticketmaster was demanding a, quote unquote, service charge for fan’s tickets, proving that 30 years isn’t long enough to fix some things. The hit song I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston, featured in the movie The Bodyguard, has spent 14 weeks at the top of the Billboard charts. And in 1994, Melanie Rawn said, What if we put all of our state secrets into a child’s nursery rhyme? What could go wrong?
Ali: Nothing. Never!
Bree: Welcome to the Ruins of Ambrai by Melanie Rawn. So before we get started this week, the discord asked me to address this: the blurb on the back of the book. And the fact that apparently a lot of you are wonderful people who trust us so deeply, you just went out and you bought this book and you didn’t read the product description on Amazon or the text on the back of the book.
Aradia: That’s so beautiful.
Aradia: Such sweet, trusting creatures.
Bree: Very flattering.
Ali: Neither did I, by the way.
Bree: But you were not aware that the blurb of this book is sort of interesting and basically sets up the fact that this is a book about futuristic Catholic space wizards. And this is not something I mentioned, because it basically does not come into the text of this book at all. It is such a weird thing for them to have put on the blurb of this book, and this is – if you don’t have it handy or something. Basically what it says is: A thousand years ago, Mageborns fled prejudice and persecution to colonize the planet Lenfell – pristine, untouched, a perfect refuge for those whose powers were perceived as a threat by people not gifted with magic. And then if you look in the back of the book – and I will like to do this, since literally, as I say again, this has zero relevance to anything that happens in this book, at all.
Ali: As the back of a book should.
Bree: In the index in the back, they have a definition for Lenfell, which is what I’ve told you guys that this country, this world is called, and it is a corruption of landfall. And the description of it is: Colonized during the second Great Migration 2458 to 2493. By 5876, mainly Catholic settlers, after a seven year voyage on the starship, Stella Alderson. Their aim was to escape the complications of high technology. Among them were 16 magicians who became the ancestors of every Mageborn on Lenfell. So, yes, this is a book about Catholic space wizards.
Bree: And also, I guess, intense inbreeding.
Aradia: And eugenics.
Bree: And eugenics. But so though I did not say this to anybody because like´- as I’m saying, for the third time now – literally never comes up in the book. And people ask me why I thought that this would be, you know, you’ve got this precious real estate on the back of the book that is your one chance to capture people. Why would you waste so much of it on something that is not relevant to the story?
Ali: That is a great question.
Bree: My only guess is that this is in 1994, and since I am the master of the time machine, I will point out that there are two things going on in 1994 that may have been, or in the previous years. Anne McCaffrey’s Pern is a very popular series that had just – it’s about dragons and fantasy in a foreign, you know, a distant planet. But it has a whole arc where you find out eventually that actually these people were high technology colonizers who came to a planet and then regressed back to this fantasy world. And this is right about the time where the series was starting to rediscover all the technology and stuff. And, you know, part of me thinks somebody in marketing was like, Hey, maybe we can sell this book to all the people who like the Dragonriders series or possibly Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover series, which I think, if I’m recalling correctly, has a sort of similar conceit. So that’s the only thing I can figure. I may go out and tap some of my contacts who were around back then and may actually know more. But it is a weird thing to go on the back of a book, admittedly, very strange.
Aradia: Yeah, it feels like a cheap rip off of Dragonsdawn, which I love. All – well, all the Pern books I’ve read, I know I haven’t read all of them, but I love all the Pern books I’ve read. But Dragonsdawn always has a special place in my heart, because of all the fan service and that connection between the fantasy and the sci fi. And this totally reads to me like a cheap rip off of that whole arc. And so my gut says, You’re right, that this was them trying to be like, But this niche, though! Because that’s what chasing the algorithm gets you. Even in 1994.
Ali: I’m going to be real. I’ve never heard of that series before in my life. It sounds awesome. I’m going to check it out for sure. Actually, maybe we could even do it on this podcast.
Bree: Maybe we will have to tackle – But I’m going to tell you.
Aradia: I would die if we did that.
Bree: We could definitely do a Dragonrider book. But we’re going to need to import the Wheel Takes buzzer and –
Aradia: True! True! Oh my god, so true.
Ali: There’ll be a lot to break down, I’m hearing?
Bree: Very problematic. But these are actually – she started writing these books in the sixties. So, like, this is some –
Aradia: Very dated attitudes.
Bree: Like, even.
Ali: So, there’s a lot of things that – the time machine would truly –
Aradia: The time machine is going to need some retrofits.
Bree: Yeah, that would be an interesting time machine adventure for me. So. So, yeah.
Ali: We get my in-laws to guest star and let us know what the heck was happening.
Bree: We’ll put a pin in the dragonriders, but yeah. So that’s the best I can guess, you guys, that that was a marketing choice. Even today, authors don’t always have a lot of control over what, you know, goes in the back of their books. I often get copy from publishers that is weird, and strange priorities, and sometimes just has random spoilers in it that I would never put in there.
And so I often like, go back and forth with them to try to write my own. I’m not sure if that was as common back then. This is obviously before my publishing time, so. But yeah, weird. Weird choice.
Ali: Yeah. I feel this way when people will say like, Why didn’t – in TV – This made more sense, when it seemed like they were setting up for this, in a movie or TV show. And I’m like, They probably were. And something along the way changed. So it’s, they feel like, Why didn’t they just? They probably were. And something happened.
Bree: There is definitely that possibility, too.
Ali: There is not always control.
Bree: More relevant than it turned out to be.
Ali: Well yeah, that’s also interesting when it comes to like a longevity question. It’s like, they were trying to sell this series now, at that time now. Right. And they’re like, Okay, well what are people craving right now? What do people want right now? They weren’t thinking about us, 30 years from then, sitting here going, What the hell? They were trying to get that book sold now, at the time.
Bree: Exactly. I mean, that is publishing. Publishing’s, everything is, you know, here is – I’m not sure, I’m not on BookTok, so I’m not sure what the – Red, White and Royal Blue was really popular, so everything for a while was like, This is Die Hard meets Red, White and Royal Blue! I don’t know. Seems like a weird mix up. But, you know, that’s. That’s what we do.
Ali: Oh, it’s part of animation. Like one of the things is, that when we’re pitching, or when people are pitching shows, people are like, We want the next Bluey! Bluey is the big show, right? In animation right now, that’s like the show. And then you’ll go, okay, cool, find the thing, the concept, that’s the next Bluey. Obviously that’s so easy to do, and you know, pitch an idea. I’ve several friends who’ve pitched ideas and they’ll go, Well, we can’t do that. And they go, Well, Bluey did it! And they go, Well, yeah, but that’s Bluey.
Bree: That is exactly, you know –
Aradia: Boggles the mind.
Ali: They want it, but they’re also afraid to do it, because it’s too, it’s too elevated, on a pedestal, because everyone likes it.
Bree: Yeah. So that, that is as far as I can tell you all, that is what happened. There was something there. There are a couple places, there’s at least one place I do think that this is referenced, so you guys can look out for that. And there may be other ones that I missed. So I guess now that you know, look for space – I mean, I think one thing I did miss is, I didn’t think about the fact that obviously a Saint based religious system sounds like something some Catholic wizards might do if they’ve lost track of their culture, but like, rebuilt it, you know.
Aradia: That does track.
Bree: So I guess that’s one thing, but you know – yeah so I guess, keep an eye out for that. But for the most part, do not expect spaceships to come in at the third act. This is not super relevant to your experience and what we’re going to be doing.
Ali: Okay. So there’s no phasers that we need to look out for.
Bree: Not that I’m aware of. I guess we’ll see. I guess it depends on what you consider some of this magic to be.
Ali: Bree is like, Do you know how long ago I read this?
0:14:14 Start of discussion – Part 2
Bree: Which brings me to the fact that we are now in the official book. We are in part 2!
Ali: Woo hoo!
Bree: You have left the back story behind.
Ali: Now we’re in the present day.
Aradia: The real book.
Bree: So what do you guys think about being in the present day?
Ali: I am still figuring out what is going on, if I’m being honest.
Aradia: I’m glad there was a lot of worldbuilding before, because this went way too fast for the worldbuilding to having been packed into this exposition. Like the backstory stories were helpful for sure.
Ali: The backstory stories were way helpful. Also, Sarra now doesn’t like Tag. Taig. Like something happened. She’s now kind of like, He’s annoying.
Bree: Well, I think that she thinks this, because he was like, all friendly with the minstrel during her kidnapping, falling and shit, basically. I think that she’s sort of got this whole him and, you know, he’s a disrespectful firebrand, whatever. I don’t think she dislikes him greatly. But, you know, I definitely think that that wounded her opinion of him slightly.
Ali: Yeah. She and Cailet have slightly different views on Taig for sure.
Ali: Or very different.
Aradia: But I was really happy that Sarra’s getting to join the Rising and we’re getting to do things. It was very nice to shift into that mode of, We are in the protagonist’s head, and we are having main plot moments.
Ali: Yeah, she’s finally old enough at 22 to participate in the grown up stuff. And excited to get to the grownup stuff.
Bree: Which is basically how this starts. It starts with two of our friends who we glimpsed in previous sections, mostly in Cailet’s, Alin and Val. They have come back to take her on an adventure.
Ali: And during Pride Month, no less. We love it.
Aradia: They’re so cute. Adorable.
Bree: Adorable little gay couple. Okay. And now we’re going to have to discuss the fact that they are cousins. But I did do the family tree on this.
Ali: I believe the term consanguineous was used.
Aradia: Yes, it was.
Bree: They are all second cousins.
Ali: Okay. So that makes it fine.
Bree: Alin and Val are second cousins. I went and I looked this up. I was like, okay, I’m going to have to Game of Thrones this. Thanks a lot, George R.R. Martin. And discuss exactly what this cousins situation is. They all share a great grandmother, Sarra, Alin, and Val.
Ali: Listen, I’m not trying to be like, How much incest is too much incest? You know what I mean? But I believe second cousins is like kind of the, the, that’s mostly fine, right, at that point? I don’t know.
Bree: It’s the legal threshold, I think, here.
Ali: Yeah, I think yeah, I think legally, that’s where people are like, it’s fine.
Aradia: So yeah, and they’re not having a genetic child together. So it’s extra fine.
Ali: So what is a second cousin? Oh, it’s sharing a great grandparent, right? Okay.
Bree: A great. It’s sharing a great grandparent.
Ali: It’s just, the removed, that’s a different thing though. Like once. removed?
Bree: Yeah, the removed would be like, Sarra’s mom would be either their second cousin once removed or their first cousin once removed. Because Sarra’s mom would be on a different generation, That’s where the removed part comes in.
Ali: Right, right, right, right, right. Yes. Yes. Because I do have a cousin – I’d like, if my cousins are having kids, that would be my first cousin once removed. Yeah, right. Okay.
Bree: Yeah. Yeah. That’s how it is. Because it’s like, she’s first cousins with Lillen. So Lillen’s kids are her first cousins once removed, and her kids and Lillen’s kids are second cousins.
Ali: Yeah. And I have a cousin who had a baby, whose kid is old enough to have her own kids, and those would be my first cousins twice removed.
Ali: Wild, wild. Anyway, family trees.
Bree: Welcome to genealogy with Ali and Bree, who are not sure they know what they’re talking about.
Ali: I’m very sure I’m not – I don’t know what I’m talking about. But one point I was curious, like how it would be appropriate to talk about them. So then I did do a dive at one point, but that was maybe three years ago. So how much did I retain?
Bree: The removed is where it just gets headache inducing. But luckily these people are all second cousins. So to say we are not Game of Thrones-ining it quite yet.
Aradia: We’re more Wheel of Time-ing it.
Ali: Yeah. I feel like it does make it a little unsexy when you can call each other a cousin, and like there’s something about it that –
Bree: They do call each other cousin, which I’m like, I’m not sure I would.
Ali: I think I would avoid that, as much as we can.
Aradia: Not my favourite.
Bree: Yeah, but in a world where everybody has the same last name and you might be like 17th cousins and, I don’t know, maybe they’ve just got a different vibe from that. Maybe, you know.
Ali: Especially as the blood families get, like, fewer and fewer. I mean, there’s not that many – there’s not a lot of genetic diversity I think probably amongst the upper class. Is there a Habsburg jaw running around?
Bree: It’s becoming an issue. So, yeah, we catch up with Sarra. She thinks that she is basically going to Ryka Court, and the reason she’s going officially is because she is going to petition them to let her foster mother Agatine to pass her estate basically, and, you know, let her inherit. Because Agatine only has four sons. She does not have a daughter and she’s the last of her name. And there’s no other women to inherit. So they’re asking if Sarra can then be her heir, basically. So this is apparently quite revolutionary, because they have not let somebody pass – I believe they call it primacy of a Shir, because she rules all of Sheve, so this is like basically, I’m going to let you take this whole province rulership, too. So she’s inheriting more than just the name and the money. It’s also like leadership.
Ali: Wow. Does she get Ambrai too?
Bree: If she wanted to, she would have to say who she was, though.
Ali: Which kind of puts her in a bad position.
Bree: Awkward situation. Yeah.
Aradia: But like, clearly it’s being saved for later.
Bree: Yeah, but this is something that Agatine is thinking about. Because what she’s thinking is that someday it’s going to be safe for Sarra to say, I’m Sarra Ambrai, and then she’ll get both lands in they, like, merge together and be safe forever.
Ali: How would one prove that, in this world?
Bree: That is an interesting question. There could be magic. The one thing that they said in Sarra’s back story chapter is that the reason Lillen and the two oldest kids know who Sarra was, is because someday they would have to prove it and there couldn’t be any magic in their brains, any warding or anything.
Bree: So I think that there may be something where they can prove this stuff via magic.
Ali: Right. Melanie thought about it.
Bree: They could also sense if somebody had been in there, like Gorynal Desse is in, like every 5 minutes, everybody’s brains, messing around.
Ali: Completely un-, self-taught, which I just don’t know if that’s a good idea.
Bree: So, yeah, so he’s missing also in this section, or at least Sarra says he’s missing. Nobody’s heard from him in years.
Aradia: Cause he’s off teaching Cailet!
Ali: Well, he’s found more kids to fuck with. I don’t know. Not in that way, obviously! But he’s like, he’s there, I’ve got toddler’s memories to wipe. Like, I’ve got a lot on my plate.
Aradia: Yeah, whole kindergarten class full of memories to get rid of this afternoon.
Ali: Exactly. He’s like, I found a Montessori school and I –
Bree: I’m just going to make them forget everything! You know, how long it’s going to take them to learn to read. So that’s basically where we start. We start with Sarra, and she thinks she’s supposed to say aloud in the morning, but our favorite duo pop out and they’re like, No, we’re going via Ladder. And their goal is to run around basically collecting Mages like Pokemon.
Aradia: They’re gathering the party for their DnD incursion.
Ali: Yes, we’re getting the band back together.
Aradia: It’s literally gathering the party to like, go attack a castle and, like, get some gold or something. It’s very, very fun.
Bree: This is very classic fantasy. It’s like we’re going to go on a road trip and we’re going to walk, you know, lots of places and pass through magic portals and pick up our spell casters.
Ali: Get everybody we need on board. They got to do it.
Aradia: Convince the, like, you know, all alcoholic bass player to come out for one more tour.
Ali: Come on, man. Do it for the fans!
Aradia: Come on. You do remember how to rock? Right?
Bree: And the first Mages they pick up, one of them is very old. I think it’s, Kanto Solingirt, is his name.
Aradia: Yeah. Solingirt. It’s a cool name. And he’s the father of the other one who’s much younger.
Ali: I like the sassy one.
Bree: Okay, I’m going to try to say it once and then I’m going to call her Imi for the rest. Ima – Imalayal, maybe?
Bree: Imilial. Imi Gorrst, and they call her Imi a lot, so I’m going to call her Imi. That’s like what I’ve always called her in my head. And she’s fun. She’s like, I think in her forties, and she’s a Warrior Mage, so she’s just like an absolute badass.
Ali: I love her.
Bree: So we love a vigorous badass lady Mage.
Aradia: Yeah, definitely mentally casting Gwendoline Christie.
Aradia: To play her. Just like, attitude, big sword. I like it, she’s fun.
Bree: So she and her dad, who is an old Scholar Mage, and they are the first people who they collect and I’m big fans of them, personally. So that’s, I mean, that’s most of what this first chapter is. This first chapter is a little bit of back story, a little bit all of them explaining to Sarra what’s going on. And then they pop through some Ladders.
Ali: And by extension, Ali. They’re explaining to Ali what’s going on.
Aradia: Yeah. And then we get – I liked this whole, before the Ladders there’s like the, Here’s your pyramid, your personal pyramid of how they organize their thing. And she’s like, thinking about how smart their organization is. And then they go do this Ladder thing and it’s all super sneaky. And I just, I love being in her head, because she makes the exposition come together so fast.
Ali: Yeah, because of that gut.
Aradia: I like her gut jumping. It’s, it’s good. It’s, it’s very fun to be in the head of someone who knows what the fuck is going on.
Bree: I do love gut jumping, as a word.
Ali: She’s intuitive as fuck, she made it a superpower.
Aradia: Yeah, it’s the best. I love it.
Bree: And so we find out here that Alin’s super power is basically, as you guys guessed, Ladders. I think that you, when I was asking you what you thought he might be learning, you – in the traveling out in lots of directions – I’m pretty sure both of you theorized once, at least once, that it could be Ladders and that is his thing.
Ali: Aradia, zoom five!
Aradia: Yes, indeed.
Bree: So, excellent, excellent deducing there, y’all. He is a Ladder Rat, is what they call him.
Ali: A Ladder Rat.
Aradia: Adorable. Yeah, adorable.
Ali: I would not appreciate that. And meanwhile, Aradia is like, Adorable. I love it.
Aradia: I have a fondness for squirrels.
Ali: I mean, I like rats okay. It’s just like, I don’t know if I would like to be referred to as a Ladder Rat.
Aradia: No, it does seem a little derogatory.
Ali: A little?.
Aradia: Or gives me, umm – like, street rat opening number of Aladdin? Kind of made me think of that.
Ali: Yes! I think that’s why. I’m like, Why rat, though? Like, because I don’t have a negative feeling toward rats. But other people do. And so then I’d be like –
Aradia: But I figured because they’re the resistance. And so, like, they’re like sneaking around through, through the stuff like rats, because the resistance always has to like, take advantage of something, I don’t know.
Bree: Every rat thing actually makes me think – because we’ve learned in part two how Alin came by this knowledge. And this is linked to the whole mystery of what that Mage did to him, you know, where he screamed, and Cailet heard him, and she fell. We find out that what happened was that there was a Mage who knew all of the Ladders, and she was dying, and they basically scooped her brain out and shoved it into Alin’s, very painfully and very traumatically, like gave him all of her memories and knowledge of Ladders all at once. And it apparently fucked him up.
Ali: And Gorynel Desse showed up and was like, I’m against giving children memories. In fact, that is the opposite of what I do.
Bree: Yes, no wonder Gorynel Desse was so mad.
Aradia: All my work, undone.
Ali: How dare you give a child memories?
Bree: So, yeah, this is how Alin learned, which is apparently the quick and dirty way. And it traumatized him so much he can’t do anything else with his magic. And so why that made me think about the street rat right thing is, like I do think that to some people he’s a lesser Mage. He could never be a full Mage. He can never do most of the stuff that they can do. So I do think, you know, you might be onto something there, Aradia.
Ali: Yet! Yet I feel like there’s a growth arc potentially. Well, either, either tragic downfall, or growth arc.
Bree: Are you getting Nyneave’s block vibes from this?
Ali: I’m getting Nyneave’s block vibes, you know. I feel like he might be set up for a big moment. So either he finally finds that ability – maybe Val’s in trouble and he like accesses magic he didn’t know he could do, right? Because of love. Or, equally possible, he goes up against like, a Glenin, say, and he’s just like, not able to. It’s like a tragic thing, which unfortunately would be very consistent for the nineties to have the homosexual die tragically.
Aradia: We’re going to bury your gays in the nineties.
Ali: No! Would they do it?
Bree: In the nineties. I mean, gosh, what is it, 2020, which was the big year for burying gays, unfortunately. Yeah I, I think that those are both valid. I definitely see the potential here for a sudden explosion of ability. But I also think that it is the nineties. So I guess we’ll have to keep an eye on which way this goes.
Ali: I’m watching it.
Aradia: We’re seeing a lot of magic being bound and then violently shaking off those bounds. Like we’re seeing magic fail to do its job at keeping people contained like every other page, basically. So yeah I don’t. I don’t trust that he’s only ever going to be good for Ladders. That seems iffy at best.
Ali: I feel like the message will not be, You’ll have your trauma block for the rest of your life. Congrats. Like I feel like that would be a weird message from Melanie.
Aradia: That would suck!
Bree: It would be sad!
Ali: It would be sad.
Bree: I’m looking here. Oh, and Val also has a superpower. And I hinted at this.
Ali: Oh yeah! Times?
Bree: Val’s superpower is, He always knows what time it is.
Ali: God, I’m so envious.
Aradia: So envious. Like what? How is that?
Ali: As someone with time blindness –
Bree: The neurodivergents can’t relate.
Aradia: Time is a constantly waving, oscillating, series of circles. It’s not knowable.
Ali: Gus intuitively knows what time it is. Usually he can kind of guess within like a few minutes. Which weirds me out. I’m like, How? How do you know? It could be 11 a.m., It could be 5 p.m. If it’s not dark outside. I don’t fucking know what time it is.
Bree: Yeah, I’m exactly the same way.
Aradia: I mean, I can tell what time it is because I live in one place and I look outside the window a lot and so I know exactly what everything looks like. And so over like a couple of years, it’s like, okay, okay, now I know what time it is, but like, I have to look outside. It’s not like I know, like based on my hunger or my sleep cycle. It’s just like, what angle is the sun at, objectively, but like, I don’t know how long it’s been since the last time I looked out the window. It could have been 2 hours or 2 minutes!
Ali: I don’t really feel time pass. You know what I mean?
Bree: James from the Queers of Time Podcast messaged me about something the other day and I was like, Oh yeah, I saw that this morning. And they were like, Bree, it happened at 6 p.m.! Well, I did take a lot of naps today. You know, 6 p.m. could be morning to me, it depends!
Ali: I have no idea.
Aradia: Rock star hours, it’s fine.
Bree: It was like midnight when we were having the discussion.
Ali: Oh, days don’t mean anything, right? I’m like, Oh yeah, that happened like yesterday. And Gus is like, That was three months ago.
Bree: So yeah, none of us are Val. All of us are jealous.
Ali: Gus might be Val. Yeah, my husband might be Val.
Bree: Gus might be Val.
Aradia: But it sounds like it’s a really important skill to have when you’re using Ladders to hop around a planet. The jet lag, Ladder lag, as they call it, but it’s jet lag. Is real.
Bree: Because this country is literally the whole planet, this country/world. Something is happening here that I don’t see happen enough, I think, in fantasies, where traveling happens, which is time zones. They are getting absolutely boned constantly by time zones.
Ali: Me too, honestly. As someone who’s been traveling a lot recently. This is all very relatable.
Aradia: Yeah. That’s been your whole like, month.
Bree: So yeah, they keep like, you know, popping out, and it’s like daytime, and then it’s yesterday, and then it’s tomorrow when we get there. There’s one pretty hilarious thing where somebody asks what day it is, and Val gives the most hilarious answer I have ever seen in my life.
Aradia: I got a headache just reading it, like, no.
Bree: In part two I think that the biggest thing is that we find out about Alin and we also – Sarra figures out that Alin and Val are lovers, which you guys figured out from the second Val was the only other person who heard Alin scream, but Sarra took a little longer.
Ali: Sarra took a hot second. I kept thinking she had figured it out, and she’s like, That’s weird. And I’m like, Huh? And she just kept not making that final leap until at a certain point I was like, A little slow on the uptake. It was giving Perrin from Wheel of Time for a second. And then she was just like, Wait! (pause) I think they’re lovers. And I went, Thank you! Congratulations.
Bree: Sarra’s two weaknesses: finding the Minstrel, and gaydar.
Ali: For once, gut jumping did not work out for this.
Aradia: It’s too obvious, that’s the problem. Gut jumping only works on subtle shit. Doesn’t work on the obvious stuff.
Ali: They were too explicit with their love.
Aradia: Yeah. Yeah, very much so. In the nineties, they were being too explicit.
Bree: And this is, let’s just say, you know, 1994, a lot of people will try to defend fantasy that doesn’t have any queer characters at all. With, Well, it was the nineties! And I mean, she’s clearly got some here. I mean, we’ll decide how we feel about their representation as we go, which is not me trying to say one way or the other. I’m just saying, you know, there’s definitely things to be questioned. Obviously.
Bree: But yeah, they’re here. And as we find out in part three, this is not something where the world is super prejudiced against it. The big problem seems to be, if you are a Blood son, your family might be really annoyed they don’t get to sell you off for lots of money to some chick.
Aradia: Right? Which is like very just normal to stories about rich people having inheritance problems. It’s always about, you know, marrying off the daughter. So for this world, they’d be like, Oh, yeah. No, we don’t care that you’re gay. We care that we can’t, like, do the economic exchange with your marriage. Like, that’s what we’re upset about. I’m like, Okay, that feels right.
Ali: Honestly, I feel like that’s probably not untrue. Wealthy people now, like, I don’t know. I mean. Do you think that Jeff Bezos’ daughter’s going to end up with a waiter? Probably not. Right? Probably not.
Aradia: How does she meet a waiter? That’s just the start.
Ali: Exactly. It’s one of those things where, like by you hanging out with who you hang out with, the people you’re comfortable around. Like, what does she have in common with a normal person? Like, you don’t have anything in common with a normal person. You don’t live the same life.
Bree: No, we don’t live on the same planet. Like, literally, basically.
Ali: Yeah. She goes to the grocery store. She doesn’t pay attention to what’s on sale, she doesn’t pay attention to what’s in season. She doesn’t have to, right?
Bree: You think she goes to the grocery store?
Aradia: No! She doesn’t go to the grocery store! She goes there for like, cultural safari purposes, because she’s curious to see how the other half lives.
Ali: Yes, exactly. She went in college, you know, she goes to college, but now Instacart exists.
Bree: A little experimentation.
Ali: Yeah, a little college experimentation. Flirting with being poor. What’s it like? We’ll pretend, right? But, you know.
Bree: We do find out Val’s family is fine. Because Val is bisexual, I think. Or at least he seems to be. He likes the ladies –
Aradia: He flirts with everyone!
Ali: And in the time of the very famous and very upsetting Sex and the City episode about bisexuals – we’re here! Look at that. This is at a time where people were like, Do bisexuals actually exist or is it just as they say in Sex in the City, a one way ticket to gay town?
Bree: Yeah. Yeah. So I mean, and gay bisexuals existing, happy Pride!
Ali: Happy Pride Month! Friendly reminder: some bisexuals are married to men!
Aradia: Yes. Yes, they are.
Ali: Ha ha ha. Anyway.
Aradia: Yes. We love compulsive heteronormativity. It is great. Great. We just happened to meet really nice people and we’re fine with it. But God dammit. Stupid society.
Bree: Okay, So. Yeah, well, what I’m saying is, we find out that Val is – his family is fine with it, because they don’t have to pay a dowry for him. So it’s basically like, Whew, we don’t have to pay some chick to take you, because if you’re of the lower Tiers, you know, it’s like most of the time you have to pay a dowry, like have a dowry for your son to go get married. It’s only the Blood to get the money coming in the other direction because, you know, their sons have fancy, superior bloodline, stock, whatever. So Val’s parents are probably like, Yay, we don’t have to pay some lady to marry you. Go have fun!
Ali: Yeah, they’re like this is actually doing is a huge solid, thank you.
Aradia: Yeah, efficient.
Bree: So that is what we get about sexuality on Lenfell here, does not seem super prejudiced. It does seem a lot tied up with the marriage market, which Sarra gets very upset about.
Aradia: I love her naivete. Like her naivete is so precious.
Bree: Here’s something I want to discuss. Our old friend Geria Ostin is back. The first daughter, Geria.
Ali: Ew, she sucks.
Bree: Who ,ade us support slapping women briefly, and shook our confidence in life.
Aradia: Yeah. We did not support her wrongs, even though she was a woman.
Ali: Yeah, I support almost all women.
Bree: Yeah. So we find out she has a new lover every other week, even though she’s married. But according to her, we are immoral. So we get this sort of thing.
Aradia: Play girl!
Bree: I don’t love Sarra’s response, because Sarra’s response is, Sarra saw nothing unusual in Geria’s sexual habits, although she personally deplored promiscuity.
Aradia: What in the two faced messaging?
Bree: So I think that that right there – I feel like that was a little, We’re back to Sarra is a virgin who is going to stay a virgin until she’s married, and she personally deplores promiscuity. And I’m just not getting powerful women get to do what they want vibes from this?
Ali: Let. Women. Fuck!
Aradia: The only woman who is fucking in promiscuity is the worst. Who we do not support.
Bree: We’re right back to, All the ladies who love to fuck are – and this is not all. I mean, I feel we get some other people at least, like the awesome Mage. The horny Mage. Or no, maid, not Mage. Our horny maid, Sarra’s horny maid, Tarise. I mean she was clearly down to fuck and she was not evil. But we also got told that she was already in love with somebody, and so I guess I feel like that still is almost an out. Like is she actually going out there and dumping on all these dudes, or is she just the horny lady who’s waiting for the one, you know? And so the one person we know is definitely fucking around is fuckhead Geria. And I don’t love that.
Aradia: No, I especially don’t like Sarra being like, I support you making bad choices.
Ali: Yes, that’s what it is.
Aradia: Very patronizing. It’s like, It’s your lifestyle decisions and I don’t approve, but I’m going to love you anyway. And it’s just like, ugh, that’s the energy it was giving. Obviously Sarra does not love Geria anyway, but like, yeah, it’s that condescension.
Bree: Yeah. And she’s supporting the wrong part, like she’s judgmental about the wrong part.Like Geria is probably hurting her husband or whatever e. It’s just the slutty part that she’s like.
Aradia: If she had just said like, Sarra’s fine with it, but she thinks it’s terrible that she’s being, like, unfaithful, instead of promiscuous. Just one word. One word replaces the whole tone for me.
Bree: Yeah. I mean, she saw nothing unusual in Geria’s sexual habits, although she personally deplored unfaithfulness, is a whole different statement. Yeah.
Ali: Exactly. It could easily be like, Well, is her husband okay with it? Does he also get to be promiscuous? Because that’s my thing, I’m obviously cool with poly people. But I’m always like, !ou got to make sure everyone’s cool with it before you start being poly. Right?
Bree: I am guessing Geria is husband is not consenting.
Ali: You can’t just start cheating and then going, Oh, we’re poly now. That’s not how that works.
Aradia: I bet he is forbidden from taking his own lovers.
Ali: I bet that’s true. I bet that’s true.
Aradia: I bet that she beats the shit out of him. Or has someone else beat the shit out of him, if he fucks around at all.
Ali: Which is my thing with – I’m cool with polyamory, but polygamy I’m always kind of like, Hmm. They don’t get to also have their fun, their time, their whatever? That feels incorrect.
Bree: I don’t feel like there’s a lot of respect or consent, like going along in any of this.
Aradia: And it would have been nice if that had been what Sarra judged.
Ali: Yeah. Like, Oh, you know, it seems kind of wrong that he doesn’t also get to have his lovers and do his thing. Or it seems kind of wrong that she does that, you know, when he’s obviously unhappy about it. Whatever it is. But yeah, the promiscuity part is not the focus, madam.
Bree: Yeah. Yeah. And because this is in the head of our crusading, going to change the world for the better, cover girl, it feels like it carries a lot of weight to me. Like as a moral judgment. She’s the one who we’re supposed to trust her moral judgments about what’s good for the world, right?
Aradia: Yeah. I found her whole thing about how, I’ve been held aside and naive so that I can make the world a better place from a place of objectivism, deeply unsettling. Deeply.
Bree: Yeah. I put that in our notes and highlighted it, because when we get there, we’re going to discuss.
Aradia: Yeah, right here in this comment. You see why.
Ali: It’s kind of that weird double edged sword where people are like, Women can do whatever they want to! But they shouldn’t.
Aradia: Live your life. Not like that!
Ali: Like they can! But they shouldn’t! You know, that’s just how it kind of feels.
Bree: We get a little more politics and stuff. Basically, their mission, part of their mission while she takes these Mages to Ryca Court with her, is that they’re supposed to steal some stuff. Steal like, incriminating documents, maybe. And then we find out that Kanto is a forger, an expert forger.
Bree: So if they could just, like, get some documents with Murder Punch Card Lady’s handwriting on them, he could, like, make some incriminating documents.
Ali: Which, morally, interesting. I mean, she sucks…
Bree: Definitely. I feel like when I was, like, reading this at 15, I was like, This is a brilliant plan. And now I’m like, in 2023, living in a country where, the former president won’t stop telling his crimes to anyone with a microphone. And I’m like, Is anyone going to care?
Ali: I don’t think anyone will care. What a simpler time where we were like, Yes. When people hear about injustice, they will be outraged and they will do something about it. And it’s like, No, not always.
Bree: Yeah, I’m now like, Sarra, they’re not going to care even if it’s real, much less if you deep fake it.
Aradia: Right. But I was curious if they were going in just to steal samples of handwriting, or if they also actually wanted to get some documents for other reasons than just being handwriting samples?
Ali: Quick pause. I mean, didn’t she like, rip the tongue of a guy, the singer, out in front of a court full of people and no one did anything about it?
Aradia: She did.
Ali: So why would some handwriting, saying crappy things, do anything.
Bree: It feels a tiny bit naive to me.
Ali and Aradia, unisono: Yeeeeah.
Bree: I mean, maybe you get some propaganda, but I’m not sure.
Aradia: Or maybe it’s subterfuge, because even though she’s a proper adult member of the Rising, she’s actually being kept in a bubble wrapped isolation chamber of information.
Ali: And can we talk about that, because –
Bree: Yeah, let’s talk about the fact –
Ali: This feels again like another kind of, Patriarchy outside penetrating the soft gooey center of this matriarchy that we’ve made up. Because my thing is like, Taig and Collan, they all get to go, do a bunch of stuff, and be a part of everything. She’s sheltered until she’s 22, even though she’s the, ostensibly, dominant sex in the situation. They tell her not to fight, to stay safe, and they put two men in charge of her safety, as she travels. Just kind of rubbed me funny.
Bree: There’s tension there, I think. Especially like, we get Imi, and her badass Mage self. But, you know, there’s still, like, a lot of men on this party so far. Way more men than women.
Ali: There’s a lot of men. There’s a lot of men. And they’re protecting Sarra. The main woman.
Aradia: We haven’t seen one man be put into protective custody this whole time. We’ve seen multiple women being shrink wrapped.
Ali: There’s no man being told, You’re too young, we have to protect you. Nobody. No man is being told that.
Bree: No. They basically ripped Alin’s head out and shoved everything in, before he was like – he was 16 or something. When they did that to him. When they put all the Ladders in his head, I think he was not that old, because he’s 17 now.
Aradia: Right? Yeah. So yeah, that was recent and – yeah.
Bree: He may have only been like 14 or something. I mean he, I think he may have been pretty young.
Ali: Yeah. He was little, there was no, Oh we, we have to – Well, also Sarra’s forced to keep her Mage powers a secret, not use them, not do anything with them. But Alin can, who’s a year younger than she is? I’m confused by the logic there. Like, I get that maybe it’s like, We don’t want to, like, draw Glenin to her? Or maybe draw Auvry to her?
Bree: I think that might be – and I feel like I don’t know necessarily. I’m not sure, it could be something that’s implied. But if it is right now, I’m not actually remembering, honestly, like, I’m not gaslighting you guys.
Ali: I don’t know, Bree, I feel gasli – (laughs)
Bree: But I do think that, if I had to guess right now, I think the Auvry thing – I feel like she’s one of the people who has sort of a weird, inextricable connection and power to these two people who are on either side of Murder Punch Card Lady’s throne, right? She is unique in that.
Ali: Yeah, but I guess –
Bree: Or quasi unique because the other one is Cailet. But Cailet is a lot easier to hide because she just doesn’t remember anything or know anything. And nobody knows about her.
Ali: Right. But everyone knows about Sarra. So I guess they do have to hide her. They do have to be more careful. It’s just like I’m not seeing –
Bree: I still think you have a point. Like, you know. Nobody, realizing what her life would be, was ever like, Let’s go do a sword lesson.
Ali: I mean, at the very least. Let’s give her some way physically to defend herself or something.
Ali: Because it also begs the question to me, like what, Glenin has been training this whole time with her powers. She’s been functioning very well. Sarra can’t even access them at this point. What happens if Glenin shows up? She can’t protect herself.
Bree: Doesn’t feel like it’s going to be a fair fight there. And Glenin is not worried about not using magic offensively, I’m guessing.
Ali: No, I don’t think she has any qualms about that. And like, what, we’re going to give her the fastest training montage of all time to try to get her to Glenin’s level? I mean, I think everyone said that Glenin is super impressive.
Bree: As we go I think you should keep watching and see how this feels, if it feels better or worse as we get deeper into the adventure, because it’s definitely worth questioning in my opinion.
Ali: I’m like, listen, it’s pretty nit picky, but it was just one thing that I bumped on. I was just kind of like, Huh, in this matriarchy, we’re having a lot of women being protected by older men, or like men with powers. That they’re allowed to access, but the women aren’t. So it’s kind of interesting.
Aradia: Yeah, and I’d be fine with the protagonist being kept in bubble wrap, because the protagonist can’t, like, learn their shit until the story opens. But it would be nice if men were occasionally given the same treatment despite not being the main character. Just to show that it’s more about the main character, than the being a girl.
Ali: Yeah. Could it not be a lesbian couple that was, you know, shepherding her, or could the forger not be an old woman? It just feels like we’re picking up a lot of dudes with special abilities.
Bree: And we’re going to go pick up two more.
Ali: Yeah. Could Taig not be a woman? Just, you know.
Aradia: Right. Or. Or could Alin not be, like, kept, like, in a jar? Like, really? Really.
Ali: Protect! Protect Alin!
Aradia: If we just protected Alin, like a delicate little flower. And even Sarra’s more sturdy than him. Then, like –
Ali: Well, if Alin’s super traumatized and can’t access any other powers that Ladder is, perhaps Alin also needs to be super protected and put under –
Bree: I do think the implication is that Val is Alin’s super protection.
Aradia: So, fair. That is kind of the dynamic they have.
Bree: So Val may be super protecting both of them, more than Alin is protecting her. Though it is said that Alin can fist fight.
Aradia: Right. And I feel like Sarra should be able to fist fight. If Alin can fist fight.
Bree: I think Sarra should be able to fist fight too. Like even if you’re not going to give her a sword, man, make sure she knows what to do if someone grabs her, like, let’s get some elbows flying.
Ali: I’m in favor of all women knowing some basic self-defense. I’m always in favor of all people knowing some basic self-defense. Like, you know, it’s just a good thing to have.
Aradia: Even princesses need it.
Ali: Especially princesses! That’s a prime kidnaping person. Prime! I mean, was it Anne? Princess Anne in England, like someone tried to abduct her at one point. That was like a whole thing.
Bree: Oh, I don’t know.
Aradia: Yeah, but I would assume so. There is that. The opening Black Mirror episode is where a royal gets kidnaped, that is the conflict.
Ali: I was pretty sure they said like, Get in the car or something. And she was like, Not bloody likely, which I really love as a line.
Bree: Yeah. Relatable.
Ali: That’s nice. Yeah. Don’t ever let them take you to a second location. Good idea!
Aradia: Yeah. Why would I let the guy, you know?
Ali: Yeah, but anyway, that was just my, like, one – I shouldn’t say my one – one of my little nitpicky things. I had a few that I messaged in the discord to the other two, to you two. But that was one of them.
0:53:24 The Ladder Song
Bree: Yeah. Okay, let’s talk about the Ladder song.
Aradia: (chants) Ladder song, Ladder song!
Bree: As I said, we’re going to hide all of our state secrets in a child’s nursery rhyme, and then that should be fine.
Ali: Now I am going to be honest about one thing – as opposed to all my honesty throughout this whole thing. But when I see a song in a book, something happens to me mentally, where I’m just like, I’m not going to read all that.
Bree: Are you just the Keanu meme?
Ali: I’m happy for you, or sorry that happened. Like, I do not read them. I saw the songs and I was like, Fuck, I know that’s going to be important, but they’re going to have to tell me in regular text. I can’t read it.
Aradia: Yeah, for sure. Like I read it, but it doesn’t stick. Like I go through the motions and it’s like, Well, that was in italics. So I don’t need to remember it.
Ali: I’m not reading it. It’s so bad.
Bree: I will tell you guys about the Ladder song. It is apparently a nonsense song, accompanying a jumping game that nobody played after the age of ten or so. And she says, She supposed the succession of repeating opposites made it a teaching song of sorts, but otherwise it made little sense. And the first part we get is, Long or short, short or long This is called the Ladder Song Near or far, far or near Takes you there or brings you here Far or near, near or far Doesn’t matter where you are Down or up, up or down Climb the ladder round and round. And what we find out is that these matching opposites – so like one example is, Well or sick, sick or well Ladder in the shepherd’s dell. Big or little, little or big Ladder of the happy pig.
So these things are basically hints about where there are Ladder pairs all across the world.
Aradia: So Dnd.
Bree: So you know, the pig might be a shop in some town and the shepherds dell might be, you know, obviously a shepherd’s dell is somewhere else. And so it was like a mnemonic. Mnemonic device?
Ali: Yeah, mnemonic device. You got it.
Bree: Mnemonic device. I was like, I’m going to keep trying that word.
Ali: That’s a hard one. That’s a rough word.
Aradia: Stupid spelling.
Bree: Mnemonic device to remember all of the Ladders that you could possibly take, and where they went between. And they apparently only remember, I think they said it was 26 letters, like 13 pairs, out of the hundreds there used to be. And one of the things that happened – well I’m not sure if they tell it here, I think it’s implied – is like he gets like these sort of pictures in his head of Ladders. Like that’s what the old lady had, that was like dumped into his head. And so sometimes he’s still trying to, like, match them up. And so this is what – the song becomes a big thing. We’re going to see lots more of it. Sorry, guys.
Ali: Sorry that happened or happy for you.
Aradia: Yeah, because it’s interesting how he’s like, There’s regional variations, there’s linguistic drift. There’s pockets of bits of the song that we can find and compile onto our big, like, master document in Alin’s head. And I thought that was really interesting. And I am excited to have more of those clues getting dropped, because this is again, feeling very classic DnD quest, like, We got to find our little rhyming couplets and then solve the puzzle! And yeah, I’m super here for that vibe.
Ali: I love a clue.
Bree: What he says is, Children add or lose things, or mistake one word for another. Bards call it lyric shift. And so he wants to hear the version that they sing at Roseguard, because they want to compare them. And so then Sarra gets really excited. She wants to get back to her library and find the oldest, most authoritative version of the song, so that they can solve all of the Ladders, because of course, Sarra’s like, We’re going to solve them all tonight.
Aradia: Right to the end. Just completionist Sarra. Love her.
Ali: You know what? I find that so relatable.
Aradia: So relatable, we will hyperfocus until we solve this.
Ali: Sarra’s is the most relatable. I like If I don’t solve it tonight, it’s not getting solved.
Aradia: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely.
Bree: Sarra’s like, You just gave me this decades long mystery. I am on it by dawn.
Ali: Yeah, My to-do lists are impossible to actually do. Like, I separate them in the days, and then for a while, I would beat myself up because I’d be like, I didn’t do 75 things in a single day. Like, how dare. Or like, write a whole novel, and I be like, one day. So I find this very, very true to me as a person. I feel like – Aradia very much identifies with Cailet. I am Sarra for sure.
Aradia: Yeah. No, this is, this is super relatable to think like, I’ve had one breakthrough. I’m going to have them all, I’ve solved it. I’m brilliant enough to just knock this out. Wham, bam, thank you, ma’am. And it never works that way. I’m not shocked that it doesn’t work that way for her.
Ali: But I feel like when you are gifted or good at like, if you’re so intuitive, like she is, you know, oftentimes things do kind of work out, and she’s able to do things. And so, she probably has an overinflated sense of herself because of that. She’s a gifted kid, a gifted kid.
Aradia: She hasn’t yet hit burn out. It’s beautiful.
Bree: You stockpile confidence by earning it. And then you jump into new things with unearned confidence, because you’re like, Eh, I can over draft.
Ali: Yeah, I can do it. I’ve written an essay in a night! It’s not like you’re like, Oh, yeah, whatever. It’ll be fine. And then you hit 25 to 30.
Bree: I’m just going to tell you guys, my book is due the same day Wheel of Time drops.
Bree: And I have never in my life – we talked about time blindness, right? So usually, the book is due, is this like, vague concept in the far distance? Every time I get on Twitter, everybody is talking about how many days it is until Wheel of Time comes out. And I’m like, Oh my God, I’ve only got this many days left to write this book. So I’m having a whole new experience here with actually be able to tell time and see time. And I miss my unearned confidence.
Ali: That’s so real.
Bree: So that’s just my story about how everybody changing their names to 60 whatever days until Wheel of Time is giving me –
Ali: You’re stressing Bree out. Stop it!
Ali: Stop your excitement for one person!
Bree: So yes. Okay. So I want to pull something out to you. The last line of the song is, Ladders set afire die.
Aradia: We learned that before.
Bree: Have we been asking questions about mysterious fires, or why people would burn so many things? Because I think that’s a good thing to think about. Like, what were they doing in Ambrai?
Aradia: Collan’s house and family got burned.
Ali: There’s a lot of fires, now that I’m thinking about it.
Bree: Alin theorized that Ambrai and Malerris Castle were two of three major hubs. And what did they do to both of those places?
Aradia: Burn them the fuck down.
Ali: What’s the word? Okay. It’s like a deluge for water. But what’s like the word for, like, a bunch of, like a fuck load of fire? There’s like, a word. Now it’s killing me. Like an inferno, but not an inferno. There’s, like, one. Well, it sounds scarier.
Bree: I just googled A lot of fire.
Ali: It’s a lot of fire.
Aradia: Conflagration, okay. What is a scientific word for a lot of fire.
Ali: That was driving me absolutely batty. Thank you so much. Because I was just sitting there going, There’s a word that means a lot of fire. So it’s positively a conflagration of fire in this frickin country.
Bree: It feels like maybe, maybe Auvry was burning things down there and his old mom in law’s house because, Ladders set afire die.
Aradia: So that then begs the question of if you can make a new Ladder.
Bree: That’s a good one.
Ali: I bet Alin can.
Aradia: Because. Right! Maybe that’s how his magic busts out. And he’s like, I’m more than a Ladder climber. I’m a Ladder builder!
Bree: Yeah, that would be that would be powerful. Because, like, right now, they cannot, like, you know, do the Wheel of Time gateway thing. They are really constricted by how this magic travel works. But if he could make new ones. Are you raising your hand, Ali?
Ali: Because isn’t Cailet named after the saint of fire or something like that? There was like –
Bree: Caitiri the Fiery-eyed.
Aradia: The Forge person?
Ali: I’m saying, what’s going on with the fire? And what does it have to do with Cailet? Because they’re going to get Cailet at some point.
Bree: Cailett does think about her magic as fire a lot.
Ali: She feels like fire, ice, fire, ice, something going on.
Aradia: She described Taig like fire. and also Collan’s house burned down, and I’m convinced it was a Ladder spot.
Ali: Wait, so if the Ladder goes away, fire happens? Is that it?
Bree: No. If the fire happens, the Ladder goes away. If you burn the fire, you can’t go through the Ladder anymore. It kills the magic.
Ali: Oh. Oh! It was definitely that! That’s why they burn the house down. But why would the people inside, why does that matter?
Aradia: That’s my headcanon currently. Well, presumably because they were wizard magic people, that could make Ladders. Maybe they were Ladder makers, but we don’t know that.
Ali: But some kind of Mage-y people.
Aradia: And it was like a, you know, two birds, one scone situation, except in this case, they literally killed people.
Bree: So I think that that right there, that’s what we can keep in mind when you’re looking at fires in the future. Ladders.
Ali: Then again, how does Collan factor in? I just – it was bothering me.
Bree: We just want to know, don’t we.
Aradia: He doesn’t fit! (sings) One of these things is not like the others.
Ali: Well. Part of me*s like, Is he is like an illegitimate, like, son somehow? Like, is there, did he like, you know, fuck around in Mage school, and now he’s got like a bab?
Bree: I guess you got to start looking for middle aged redheads in this narrative, right?
Ali: I was thinking about Auvry. I was like, is Auvry his father? Does Auvry just have, like, a collection of Mage children, just bopping about?
Bree: I don’t know, how Game of Thrones do you think this enemies to lovers vibes of Sarra and Collan’s is going to get?
Aradia: Yeah. I can’t ship Sarra and Collan if they’re siblings.
Ali: Well, Mike, is the vowel thing a clue? The vowel baby, the whole thing. Is it a clue?
1:04:12 Music break. Part 5
Bree: Oh, let’s get to that here. So that brings us to part five. So they go to another Ladder, and they go to the Garvedian House. Garvedian? We’re going to go with Garvedian. Is a name that you have definitely seen before. I’m not sure if you guys remember where. The Captal. The Captal who was basically – who went and yelled at the council and then got murdered by Auvry. Her name was Garvedian.
Bree: And I believe she was Lusira’s… aunt? I don’t know how they’re related. I’m going to have to look it up, but they’re definitely, like, related. But anyway, yeah. So this is someone who was related to the old Mage Captal. So this is a safe house, basically, for Mages. Okay, So they arrive, and there are two more male Mages here. Advar and Elomar, who are both Healer Mages.
Ali: It’s just striking me, how ungrateful it is that people are killing the Mages at this point. When they’re like, We founded this whole place.
Bree: Poor catholic space wizards, just –
Ali: They’re like, Excuse me! We founded this whole club and now you’re kicking us out. This is bullshit.
Bree: We might have done one little apocalypse that destroyed it and almost killed all of you, but!
Ali: We might have, like, created a situation in which now there’s, like, horrible caste systems. But we’re the good guys here. This is my thing. It’s like they’re also the good guys?
Aradia: Give us one more chance.
Bree: They basically kind of had a Romeo and Juliet sort of fall out there, with the family feud. And then, you know, they fought each other and did an apocalypse. And the leftover people are like, You know, I still think that we could do more fascism better.
Ali: Who hasn’t had an oopsie apocalypse?
Aradia: Oopsie! Just just got to try again, that’s all.
Bree: So, Ali, this is another thing you mentioned. We’re talking a lot about how beautiful women are in this chapter.
Ali: We talked a lot about it.
Bree: And Lusira is somebody that Robert Jordan would have loved, because she is objectively the most beautiful woman ever.
Ali: Yes, we do that. We do that a lot. And I go, Listen, there’s a lot of beautiful women in this world. Walk around, go outside. They’re everywhere.
Bree: Since I read the whole objectifying thing about Taig, I’m going to be equal opportunity and read the whole objectifying thing about Lusira.
Ali: All right, go for it.
Bree: No older than twenty-five, clad in a snowy nightrobe that did nothing to conceal a spectacular figure and everything to emphasize a dusky brown complexion, she had the kind of long-limbed, doe-eyed, full-lipped beauty that Sarra—round-cheeked, tilt-nosed, and uncompromisingly short—had always envied. So she is the most beautiful lady ever. And, you know, I mean, I would be hypocritical to be like, Well, let’s not talk about that. When we basically described everything down to Taig’s dick.
Ali: Here’s the thing. Here’s the thing. If we’re writing specifically female gaze, right? If we’re like, this is matriarchal, like wouldn’t they? I mean, yes, we objectify men sometimes, but it’s like way less than we do women. I mean, I think. Or it’s way different.
Bree: I think it’s interesting. I would have liked it more maybe if Sarra was less jealous and more like, She’s hot.
Aradia: Yeah, that was my feeling, too.
Ali: Well, I’m like, Are you jealous, or are you giving bi vibes? Because that was detailed about how much she liked her.
Aradia: Yeah, that’s. That was definitely how I was reading. It was like, Oh, Sarra, are you, like, giving her the up and down or you just being envious because it’s 1994?
Bree: I mean, that’s kind of where I think it bugs me a little bit, because it is definitely – that’s the description of someone who’s like, Hey, except for that’s not the way we end the description. That’s like, Hey.
Ali: Yeah, but it was for a second giving me pansexual pantry. Do you know what I mean?
Ali: Yeah, a little panini.
Bree: So Lusira does seem to be very nice, though. She gives them all food, fancy food. They eat breakfast by lamplight. And Sarra is very confused because she does not know what time it is. This is where the Ladder lag really starts to set in.
Aradia: And she’s like super fancy dishes, because she’s like wealthy as fuck.
Bree: Yeah, she is. I believe that the Garvedian blooded, they might be Blood. I think they’re Blood. So they’re, they’re pretty well-off, and she does have the fancy dishes and the fancy tea set. But Sarra is trying to go to bed to sleep through this night, but she’s not tired because of Ladder lag. So she gets up and she sees Val sneaking off. Aand here is where we come into our new section. Let’s discuss paternal rights in a matriarchy.
Ali: So here’s the thing about it. So we went out of our way a few chapters ago for people to be like, Oh, we view men as the nurturing, you know, caring ones, right?
Aradia: The homemaker, the domestic one.
Ali: Yeah. And like in many cultures that exist within the patriarchy, what happens with those rights right now, at least, is typically, the default is, the mother gets the kid because they think that that bond is – like there’s a bullshit argument that that bond is stronger and women are more, you know, equipped emotionally to care for a child, whatever, whatever, whatever. And that’s wrong, obviously. But that does tend to be what happens. And then, you know, women get blamed for being single mothers instead of like fathers who leave. Right. And there’s that whole element as well, where it’s like, well, stop being dumb. So I kind of bumped a little bit on the paternal rights issue, feeling very much like our existing paternal rights issues, because I was like, it didn’t feel – if this was like a flip, a true flip of what our society looks like or what their society looks like, it felt like the default would be men get the kid, especially like a kid that’s born out of wedlock, that the Blood might not want, right? They’d be like, Well, that’s your problem. You know. Ho. Get out of here. Get out of here with your shame, right? That feels like that’s how that would have gone.
Bree: Well, and he’s third Tier, as well. So I feel like even if we were going to have a more complicated situation because before this is even a matriarchy, this is built on children being the one vital resource, right? Basically, children are the resource that is so valuable that women got power because they can produce them. And I feel like I can kind of see why women would get to still keep them because like, that’s what this is shaped about. But I also am not quite sure because we’ve introduced this thing where you don’t want that Blood sullied by the lower Tiers.
Ali: Right? You would have to pay for that child to get married. Right? If it’s a boy especially.
Bree: Yeah. Like, I can imagine that. You know, I think lower Tier fathers would be very much, it feels like, in a situation like single mothers are now, where they’re just basically abandoned and told, Okay, well, you’ve got this kid that we don’t care about, so you figure out what to do with them. It’s not our problem.
Ali: Yeah, you deal with your irresponsibility. That’s me quoting what you know – as opposed to being like, Wow, it’s really fucked up that the man that you made this child with, is not stepping up to be a part of that kid’s life, right? There’s not as much of that. I feel like.
Aradia: Yeah, yeah.
Ali: I mean, there is some, but typically it’s like we’re going to focus on the fact that it’s a single mom raising a kid. And like, uh, that’s your fault.
Aradia: Yeah. Like you said, it was weird that the flip didn’t complete.
Ali: Yeah. It was just kind of interesting.
Aradia: Too much like this is, I recognize this!. This is just how that – Yeah, it didn’t feel – It didn’t feel like the flip that I would have expected from the way all the other world building has set up this matriarchy.
Ali: So like, yeah, as someone who’s gone through the family law system, yeah, I recognized this, that usually the kids end up with their mother.
Bree: Yeah, this is just dudes – because we do have a, you know, let’s face it, thanks to the patriarchy in the way it hurts people coming and going, everybody. Not just women. Men have some like, fucked up disadvantages in the family legal system and like, you know, with custody and sometimes that really hits people. It’s men who do not deserve it at all.
Bree: And so this is what that felt like. It just felt like, Okay, well, that’s us.
Ali: Yeah, exactly. Where it’s like, Oh, men getting screwed over by family law. Yeah, that seems really familiar. Yeah, that’s how patriarchy fucks men up. Which is like, Why men should hate the patriarchy just as much as everybody else. Like, you know?
Aradia: Like, yeah, I can share from my personal life. When my parents split up, my mom was the one that left. My dad kept the kids. He was the domestic one in that partnership. And so he kept us because he was the one who had those resources and that wherewithal. And he constantly was getting all these comments from people being like, Wow, you’re such a good dad, all this stuff, you’re so amazing. And he would constantly push back at them and be like, Why are you not saying that to the single moms? He was constantly getting that garbage and having to push back on people being like, Why are you treating me different?
Ali: That’s because being a dad was invented in the 2010’s.
Aradia: Right. And my parents had a very, like, non contentious thing. We never had to deal with the legal side of stuff, but it was purely on the social – like at the grocery store, micro interactions. It was constant,until we were, you know, like teenagers, like it was constant.
Bree: And it also feels like, I don’t love that we’re also making the single mom the enemy here, even if she is a jerk. Like, it’s just like Geria, like, sometimes are like, okay, did we need another villainized single mother?
Ali: Yeah, exactly.
Bree: In this narrative, because like the nineties had enough of them. We do not need to –
Ali: The mean single mom keeping the baby away from the dad, like, yeah.
Aradia: Yeah that feels lifted straight out of the nineties and not flipped at all into a matriarchy.
Ali: Yeah exactly that. That’s how I felt. I was kind of like, Huh, that just feels so familiar, that it felt like a holdover that wasn’t thought about.
Aradia: Yeah, breaks the suspension of disbelief.
Ali: But like, I also think at that time it was such an ingrained trope that people didn’t question, that it was kind of like, Oh yeah, here’s something that’s like an ingrained thing to expect, almost. Does that make sense?
Ali: So yeah, I bumped against it a little bit because I was just kind of like, Ha, again, the woman is the bad person. And again –
Aradia: Our roguish man is the hero, even though. But also in fairness, he is like a resistance freedom fighter dude. And that is arguably the lesser quality of parenting than someone with, like a stable house who’s like home at regular hours. So we can headcanon maybe, that actually it’s more about the fact that he’s a freedom fighter?
Ali: I mean, it is probably better for that child. But like, you know, they would still kind of like, huh, question mark. But yeah, I mean, Gus’s dad, was a stay at home dad, he was an opera singer and then he left opera when Gus was born, to raise Gus and his mom was a doctor. And still it was like, you know, I asked him, I was like, Did you get weird comments? And he’s like, Oh, all the time. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.
Aradia: Mm. Yeah, obviously.
Ali: Then he said, and I also got a lot of flak for like, being a stay at home dad, you know, it’s like there’s, there’s a stigma about that, like a man not providing for his family.
Aradia: Oh it’s cute. Oh, isn’t that nice, you know.
Ali: Well, it’s either that or it’s like, Oh, you’re not as much of a man then, you know.
Bree: When we graduated, my husband and I – Mr. Bree is a special education teacher. And I had a computer science degree, and that tends to be flipped in a lot of the people we knew, you know? And there were definitely lots of comments about that, like my expected earning potential compared to his. And I mean, he took a lot of shit. And then when I started writing and, you know, occasionally making significant money, you know, and keeping him in the fancy Le Creuset dishes that he likes to cook with. He did take more shit. It’s just, it’s a thing.
Ali: It’s a thing. It’s weird. Isn’t it? It’s weird. Yeah. That there’s been that dynamic with me and Gus, too. And it’s like, who cares?
Bree: Let me tell you guys, this is actually a big thing in romance, because romance writing is a rare field where women who are mothers, or just like who have been staying at home, who don’t have any traditional education, can suddenly, especially with self-publishing, what feels like overnight, get a lot of money. Or become extremely successful and wealthy, like people going from not having jobs to making $30,000 a month or something.
Ali: Yeah, I know some people like that.
Bree: And let me tell you, if you are behind the scenes and you watch this, you have seen so many relationships implode when husbands couldn’t fucking cope with that.
Aradia: That’s so wild.
Bree: It’s a thing. It’s a whole thing. And it happens a lot. And it’s really going to make you cynical and jaded to watch it go down.
Aradia: Patriarchy hurts everybody.
Ali: The patriarchy hurts everybody, the patriarchy hurts everybody because it’s like, those men could easily be like, Isn’t it great?
Bree: I don’t know why they’re not getting their Le Creuset?
Ali: I’m like, Yeah, I’m getting my Le Creuset dishes!
Bree: Mr Bree knew what was up!
Ali: Yeah, if suddenly, you know, Gus gets cast in a Marvel movie? I’m going to be like, fucking A! Like, let’s go! I’m going to chill. Like, it’s great, you know what I mean? And I just.
Aradia: Yeah, no, my dad was always excited to be the domestic partner while my mom had her music career. When they were together, he was like, Please let me stay home and take care of the kids and take care of the house. I don’t want a job. I want to make a house. You go have a job. Like, that was his dynamic. He loved that shit. It’s amazing.
Ali: Now, honestly, I feel like having a job – They conned us. They conned us! They conned us all!
Aradia: Home making is plenty of job, it’s fine.
Ali: No, I think women should be allowed to work, but I’m also like, But staying at home is fun as fuck. It’s great. It’s also a job. It’s difficult.
Aradia: There’s no commute. It’s great.
Ali: Love for stay at home parents, like holy shit. But I’m also like – for a lot of people that’s a great, like, existence, life to have. And so there’s a part of me that’s like, I think the real con is going to work! I mean, but that’s coming from me, who like, struggles with it. We all talk about how we struggle with traditional jobs.
Bree: The Neurodivergent podcast, once again, not employable in a normal office.
Ali: Where I just go, Uh!
Aradia: Yeah, capitalistic productivity is not our jam.
Ali: No, none of us have thrived in that environment. So there’s just a part of me that’s like, What’s the problem, sirs? Like, what’s the problem? I’d be thrilled.
Aradia: Toxic masculinity.
Ali: Yeah, exactly.
Aradia: So fragile.
Ali: They’re upset about having to deal with the bros. But no, it’s really weird. It’s weird. Like, I didn’t take Gus’s last name, which he was fine with. His mom didn’t take his dad’s last name either. Actually, what’s adorable is, Gus grew up in such a different environment that he thought, like, sexism was over when he first, like, went out into the world.
Ali: He was like, Of course, women can do whatever they want, and of course men can stay home and like all that stuff because that’s what he lived.
Aradia: I mean, in fairness, I kind of came from that naivete, too.
Ali: Yeah. And then you just kind of went out into the world. It was like, wait a minute, I think sexism is still around. And these are parents like, Yeah, it is. But yeah, so he was very much not upset that I didn’t take his last name, but some of my family members were like, You disrespected him. And I just go, How? And they’re going to be real upset when they find out that, when we have kids, if we have kids, one’s having my last name and one’s having his.
Ali: We decided on that a long time ago. And I’m like, that’s really going to fuck with some people, but it’s okay, because, well, I’m just like, if you’re going to birth a kid, one of them should have your last name. That’s bullshit. You do all the work.
Bree: I’m not arguing.
Ali: So, yeah, it’s weird, but it’s always surprising. Like, who holds those, like, ingrained feelings? You know, you don’t actually really know until you’re faced with those problems and then it’s kind of like, Oh, actually, this is something weird that you do you have trouble letting go of.
Bree: Well, let’s segway so perfectly into not recognizing problems until you’re faced with them.
Ali: Wow, that transition, Bree.
Bree: You seriously set me up so well, because the thing that I have highlighted here, this is Sarra’s realization that she has been faced with something that she did not really understand before, because she has been wrapped in bubble. And then she says something that Aradia brought up and that I had already had in our document, and I have highlighted in my book, and I’m going to read it here, and then we’re all going to respond. And because she had been protected; because she had lived in a cocoon. Her thinking was clear and unimpassioned, not muddled by emotional conflicts and personal troubles. Let’s discuss.
Aradia: How many of the 15 components of white supremacy can you fit into a sentence? That’s all I can think about. It’s just like, What in the neo liberal white supremacy fascist fuckwaffle –
Aradia: – shenanigans, is happening?
Bree: Is that not literally what men constantly tell us, is why we don’t get to have opinions about fantasy? Because we’re too emotional?
Ali: Oh, my God. Or about anything.
Aradia: About anything!
Ali: They’re like, Well, I, it doesn’t affect me, so I see it more clearly. And you’re just like, I – and then they go, Oh, you’re getting emotional, which means you’re wrong. And I’m like, No! They’re getting emotional because this is a lived experience. This is like, you know, touching a wound that you do not have. That’s why they’re emotional. You don’t have a – that’s a very privileged place to come from.
Bree: And worse, this is why she’s thinking that she has the right to be the authority on this journey. This is why she needs to be in charge, because she is not muddled by emotion. She is logical.
Aradia: She knows nothing.
Ali: An excellent flip, Melanie Rawn! (claps) An excellent flip.
Aradia: She knows nothing!
Bree: I was thinking, I hate her in this moment, but oh my God, was this the most perfect – This is the most matriarchal thing that has happened in this book yet. If you wanted to convince me that this chick is the reverse patriarchy, you have done it? A-plus. Let’s all go home. What a horrible sentence.
Aradia: It’s the idea that you know more because you know less.
Bree: Yes, exactly.
Aradia: People get killed all the time because of this thinking. The whole planet is going down because of this thinking. Do not appreciate. I love Sarra, but I am super ready for her to learn that this is the worst possible idea she could have.
Ali: Okay. But also, how 22 is this? As an age, I’m like, I like it. But also, can we discuss the fact that she is 22 and sheltered as fuck. It’s like, that is such a 22 and sheltered as fuck thing to think.
Bree: This is the perfect young majority gendered, privileged, rich person statement.
Aradia: Yeah, so much privilege.
Bree: I am going to be the one who saves you all because unlike you, I have not suffered. And so I can think clearly.
Ali: It’s giving white savior. Yes, it’s white savior.
Aradia: So hard. And with the arrogance of youth. Right. Because it’s one thing when it’s like a crusty old board of white men that are like octogenarians, but like, there’s something a little endearing about, You’re 22 and you actually think that this is how the world works. Like, it is a little cute because of the naivete.
Ali: Yeah, you’re 22 and you’re like, I’m going to lead the rights movement. Like, I am going to be the one to fix everything. My name will be in history.
Aradia: I’m going to catalyze this.
Bree: I didn’t know this was a problem until 10 minutes ago, but I’m here now and we’re gonna take care of it.
Aradia: Oh, yeah, yeah. I just learned about this, and I’ve already solved it.
Bree: So, Sarra, I do not want to drag Sarra. I do love Sarra, but I think that this was like, I honestly like and I do think that this was on purpose.
Ali: Oh, yeah.
Bree: And I think it was brilliant because I feel like I have not encountered something that is more true to my experiences, like, you know, privileged, majority gendered –
Ali: Oh, it’s no, yeah, it is. It is giving a 22 year old frat boy who graduates from college, discovers a little class consciousness and decides he’s going to fix it, because –
Bree: Who graduates legacy from Harvard.
Ali: Exactly. And then he learns a little and he’s like, oh, well, I’m going to have to be the one to fix that then.
Aradia: Mm hmm.
Bree: Oh, Sarra.
Ali: And then they start a fucking foundation.
Aradia: Yep, yep, yep, yep, yep.
Bree: Next thing that comes down as we meet the two new Mages. Advar Senison, who is pleasantly plump and cute and kisses their hands. And then Elomar Adennos, who is fourth Tier and he’s in his mid-forties and tall and apparently plain and doesn’t seem very hot to Sarra. And then he just comes over, and like tongues the shit out of Lusira.
Ali: I forgot about that.
Bree: Like they just apparently start making out.
Aradia: It’s just like, Hi, nice to see you. We are now tonsil boxing.
Ali: Sarra’slike, I don’t approve of promiscuity.
Bree: Sarra’s like, What the hell? So I would like to point out, since we have been keeping track of this situation here in this world, where it is taboo to date older men, that the 25 year old Lusira is now making out with the mid-forties Elomar.
Aradia: Ugh, that seemed unnecessary.
Bree: So, once again –
Bree: Once again –
Ali: Melanie. Melanie, lovingly. Melanie, we love you. Melanie. You set something up. We have yet to see that payoff!
Bree: We’re going to get there some day.
Ali: Melanie, one of these days.
Bree: I’m sure we are.
Ali: One of these days it will happen, Melanie. And we will applaud. We will. We’ll put in a harp sound.
Bree: We will get a sound effect of a crowd going wild.
Bree: The first time we get proof positive eyes on a couple where the woman is older.
Ali: Yeah, we’re waiting for it.
Aradia: And by more than, like, six months.
Ali: Yes, we’re waiting.
Bree: So basically, we’ve got our two new Healer Mages now. And other than the makeout session, I don’t know if there’s a ton more of stuff to discuss there. I don’t know if anything jumped out to you guys.
Aradia: No, we covered everything that I had notes on for that.
Bree: So, yeah, they go upstairs. Apparently the Ladder in Lusira’s house is in her bathroom.
Aradia: Clever. Awkward, but clever.
Bree: Yeah. So they popped through this Ladder out to one that is in a dovecote. And I’m going to flag this, the keyhole shaped door. This is our cover image.
Ali and Aradia: Aaah!
Bree: Sarra coming out of the keyhole shaped door of the dovecote. So, yeah, that is apparently where Michael Whelan got the cover inspiration. So that’s cool. I do like it when it’s like an actual scene. That’s pretty cool.
Aradia: I love that. I love it when you can read the book and say, Aha, that’s the cover! Because even if the back blurb is off, if the cover art matches something in the story, like that’s fine, that’s great.
1:30:18 Music break
Bree: I think that this is where we get a big, big revelation in this chapter. Basically because Sarra has been, every time they like stop to camp, Sarra has been basically stalking someone and questioning them. Like Alin or Val so she can like, you know, grill them for all the information that has been held back for her all these years. So tonight tries to question Alin and Alin’s like, No. And he goes outside and Sarra is like, You can’t stop me. So she goes out with him again and you know, they start having this discussion about why they’re collecting these Mages, etc. And he’s like, Seriously, you need to stop asking questions, because the more you know, the more everybody is in danger. But then he, like, finally gives in, because Val’s like, What else are we going to tell her? We have to tell her before, you know, this is all over. And so this is where she figures out: Murder Punch Card Lady, First Councillor, Anniyas – She is Mageborn!
Aradia: I was, that, that was the first moment where I got emotionally, like upset and invested and surprised. So far we’ve been back story, we’ve been back world building. We’ve been like, I’m just following along, and as soon as it’s like Murder Punch Card Lady is not just some random dupe. She’s like an actual Mageborn, like middle of the spiderweb – Like many question marks are on my piece of paper. I posted it in the Discord.
Bree: She did post the question marks.
Aradia: Tons of question marks. And that was for my note that, Anniyas, MPCL, is a Lord of Malerris. It’s five question marks.
Ali: Yeah, I thought she was like a puppet. Like a useless puppet.
Aradia: Exactly. But no. No, we were deceived!
Ali: We were the dupes.
Bree: We find out that this whole thing with the Grand Duke years ago, where she defeated him, and that made her popular enough to be elected. That was – basically this whole thing has been planned to put her in power and, like, start her rise so that she could do all of this shit that they’re doing. So these Malerris are like playing a really long game, ten dimensional chess here, and the poor Mage Guardians are over there like… uh… Tiddlywinks? So, has anyone seen the Tiddlywinks board?
Aradia: Yeah. The whole thing about how one side will refuse to use magic because it’s not sporting.
Ali: Fuck that!
Aradia: You can’t use magic in war because it’s not sporting and the other side is like, Nah, machine gun magic it is. I was just listening to the Behind the Bastards about the inventor of the Maxim gun and it’s literally like, there are people who are like, Oh no, it’s not sporting to use machine guns. And then World War One happens.
Ali: I mean, they’re not wrong. It isn’t sporting. It’s not fair at all.
Aradia: It isn’t sporting, but it’s like, it’s giving me that energy of just like, Oh, no, we’re going to only use our single shot rifles and bayonets. And the other guys are like, We’re going to use machine guns. Yeah, I think, because that’s actually effective.
Bree: And this is something we discussed on Discord in Glenin’s chapter, and because Glenin’s chapter was so dense, it’s possible it snuck by some people. We find out that the Mage Guardians have a whole thing where they won’t fight against non Mages with magic. So when Auvry showed up with an army, they could have fought Auvry with magic, but they couldn’t fight the army with magic. The army could just go around stabbing them and burning things and they were honor bound not to use magic.
Aradia: Which, fuck honor at that point. Honestly.
Ali: Yeah, fuck honor at that point. Like if he’s stabbing things and burning things.
Bree: Yeah. Which put them at a disadvantage. Exactly! Because the Malerris are like, Yeah, hahahaha! Machine gun.
Ali: That’s the same energy. That’s like, okay, Glenin is becoming a super villain and ultra powerful, but we’re going to shield Sarra from her magic and not let her use it?
Aradia: Yeah. Yes. How is Sarra supposed to go up against Glenin?
Ali: That’s dumb. It’s stupid!
Aradia: With her honor?
Ali: Her honor. Like I’m going to out honor you. I’m not promiscuous.
Aradia: I have the moral high ground! That doesn’t have strategic value.
Ali: I don’t even believe that women should have multiple partners. You know, that’s how honerous.. onerous? (all laugh) No.
Aradia: You can tell who – whoever’s got the most virtue by not sleeping around wins in a contest of wills.
Bree: Oh, yeah.
Ali: Not body count.
Aradia: No, not like that.
Bree: So, yeah. So we find this out, and then Sarra starts having intense, intuitive freak outs, which they say is her magic, trying to force its way out.
Aradia: Yeah, the low quality wards in this thing.
Ali: She’s having an intui-gasm.
Bree: Yeah. Intui-gasm.
Aradia: She’s gut leaping!
Bree: Only idoesn’t seem to be very fun. It seems to be very painful.
Aradia: Yeah. They’re really spare on detail, but it seems rough.
Bree: Yeah. So basically what she figures out is that there is only one natural conclusion to all of this. Like what Murder Punch Card Lady is doing. She’s wiping out the concept of magic. She’s getting rid of all of the Mage Guardians and the Malerrisi are all hiding. And so at the end of it, there’s going to be nobody left, but basically her in power, right?
Ali: Oh my gosh. It’s like Throne of Glass! Sorry. That’s not a spoiler. That’s, like, established from the beginning.
Bree: But then she says, But before then, magic must be shown to be necessary. And history gives the example. Twice. And so the last time magic was shown to be necessary was when these scary Wraithenbeasts – which are basically magical monsters formed by the apocalyptic magic radio waste – escaped from their containment and went around rampaging everybody.
Ali: What I know to be true about fantasy, is if anything has a Wraith in it, it’s not a good time.
Aradia: Correct. Never has there been a good Wraith.
Ali: Ringwraith. Wraith? Any of it? Wraith is bad.
Bree: Yes. I mean, these are bad. These are like – I believe that the legend is that if you even see them, you die of terror. Like it’s one of those urban legends. Nobody knows what they are. And the last one that happened was 500 or 600 years ago, the last incursion. And it took all of the Mage Guardians and the Lords to like, lock them back up again. So Sarra thinks that what’s going to happen is, the First Councillor is going to wait until the Mage Guardians are gone and she’s going to let them loose and basically the world will have to give her everything she wants to lock them back up again.
Aradia: So that feels like a really, really fragile plan. Like what if you kill off all your allies and then you can’t put the Wraithenbeast genie back in the bottle?
Bree: I mean, I personally, my fantasy rule would be, don’t use any weapons that might want to eat me.
Bree: I feel strongly about this.
Aradia: But these are face eating leopards.
Ali: That’s a good line. That’s a good boundary. Yeah. Anything that might want to eat me or anything that might turn around and fuck me up.
Bree: But this chick, she is like 37 steps into an extremely fragile plan, so she might be getting cocky.
Aradia: Sure. But it just seems really weird to be like, there’s this magical ability that keeps the danger away. Let’s kill a bunch of people with that ability and then invite the danger in. That seems real sketchy. And also, if this has already happened twice before, don’t you think people might wise up to it and not take your bait the third time?
Ali: She’s the, Leopard eat my face party. Like the leopard wouldn’t eat my face.
Aradia: She’s inviting face eating leaopardss into the equation. Yes.
Bree: So this is what Sarra thinks her plan is anyway. This is what Sarra’s magic tells her, is the danger.
Ali: Wild, if true.
Bree: Yeah, absolutely wild if true. So poor Sarra is freaking out and they, like, try to make her go to sleep. And the section that we were reading ends, But as she curled on the wooden floor beneath her own cloak and atop Alin’s, trying unsuccessfully to get warm again, her instincts—her magic—screamed at her to find Cailet and take her to safety. When the Wraithenbeasts came, it would be to The Waste. Where Cailet was. Where Cailet must not be. So basically, Sarra’s like, I got to go get my sister. I got to go get my sister. And that is where we’re dropping this week.
Aradia: Oh, it feels like a conflict where Cailet unveils all her magic is going to be how the Wraithenbeasts get welcomed in. They’re going to show up and knock on Cailet’s door, and she is going to be like, Well, Bam!
Bree: Cailet’s a magic bomb waiting to go off.
Ali: She’s fiery in more ways than one.
Aradia: So, if Murder Punch Card Lady is is actually the head machination person. I’m so confused about where Auvry fits into this, because I was thinking that Auvry was using her, but now – she must be using him?
Ali: They’re using each other!
Bree: We don’t know if she’s at the head of the Lords of Malerris. We haven’t, like, been told that. They have, basically – I don’t think this is a spoiler. It seems pretty logical – the first Weaver is what they call their head person. And we don’t know for sure, like if she’s the first Weaver or if she’s just a very important thread in this plan. So I guess that’s something we’re going to have to figure out, like how high up she is in the ranking.
Aradia: Yeah, I’m just totally revising my whole opinion about the Auvry – Anniyas relationship.
Ali: I’m like, what’s going on there? Are they lovers?
Bree: She is. She’s a magic person.
Ali: Are they lovers?
Aradia: Are they both Collan’s parents?
Ali: Are they Collan’s parents? Oh, my God! Oh, my God. And then. And then he was snuck away and given to some random lady, and then they were set on fire. But that’s why he was saved over all the siblings. Oh, my God. Like, why Collan? I will not let this go. Why is Collan here?
Bree: We have to rename this podcast, Why Collan?
Ali: Why Collan? Why do we have the boy?
Aradia: Yes, fine. We allow the boy, but we also need the boy explained.
Ali: We need to understand why the boy.
Aradia: Explain the boy.
Ali: I’ll do you one better. Why is Collan?
Bree: Where the boy. Who the boy. What the boy?
Aradia: What the boy! But overall I really like the section and I’m really glad, Bree, that you made sure to get us to our real cliffhanger before cutting us off. I was very delighted and irritated at that timing. Like, last page of what I’m reading. And suddenly I’m like, Ah, what happens next? No, the next is seven on the page. I’m not allowed. I was like blocking it with my hands so I wouldn’t, like, start reading it.
Ali: Welcome to being a first time reader.
Aradia: I read too fast. I literally read faster than I can cognate? So I had to physically block myself from reading the page, because I would read it like, without wanting to. Yeah. Excellent choice of stopping. Excellent choice of stopping point.
Bree: Thank you very much.
Ali: The first time reader experience, Aradia, is truly starting for you.
Aradia: It’s brutal! I hate it.
Ali: Horrible. The worst.
Ali: Gus and my marriage is so strong.
Ali: We’re testing it every day with our podcast. We’re like, and now I have this very cliffhanger moment happening, and we’re stopping. Anyway, let’s have dinner! It’s cruelty.
Bree: Yes. That’s how we’re doing it. That’s how we’re doing it. So hopefully you guys and everyone will forgive me, because the cliffhangers are going to just get worse from here on out.
Ali: I mean, I’m excited.
Bree: I planed these so carefully and evilly.
Ali: Good, good.
1:42:55 Wrap-up and a lot of love for the listeners
Bree: I guess this is it, we can start wrapping it up here. My questions for the group is I, I would really like to have like a nice long discussion on the discord about how you guys feel about the parental rights situation. Both like in this book and if it makes sense to you, because I feel like there’s something, it just it just doesn’t quite jive in with the rest of the world for me. But maybe there’s more nuance we can unpack, so please come unpack it with us. And anything else you want to talk about? Weaver Conspiracies. We also have a – someone is keeping a great timeline now on our discord that I’ve got pinned in our chat channel. So if you get confused, there’s a timeline there now. So, excellent resources.
Ali: Incredible. I will be using that.
Bree: We have a great community already and I love you guys so much. Thank you very much.
Ali: Yeah. You’re so wonderful.
Aradia: Thank you very much to everyone who’s helped make the discord what it is so far and brought up cool discussions and also definitely thank you to our patrons for leaping on that link.
Ali: That was so unbelievable.
Aradia: We set it up and within an hour I think we had our first patron. And we’ve got lots of downloads. So yeah, all of you guys that are listening, we appreciate you. You’re really inflating our egos and making us have a good time.
Bree: Absolutely. Absolutely. The best time.
Ali: So also, what’s with the fire and what’s with Collan? Anyway.
Aradia: What’s with Collan!
Ali: We were being too sincere for a second. I had to break it.
Bree: Yeah, that’s okay.
Ali: What’s with Collan?
Bree: The eternal question.
Ali: I’m just. I’m bothered by the boy. All right. Okay.
Bree: Take us out, Ali! Asking What’s with Collan?
Ali: Thank you so much for listening. If you want to keep gabbing with us and talk to us about your theories about what the hell is with Collan, our social media and contact details are in the episode description. Until next time, have a very nuanced day.