Gender-Flipped Locker Room Talk: Episode Notes

Ruins of Ambrai by Melanie Rawn

Welcome to episode 6 of the Hot Nuance Book Club, where we are swimming through Ladders (parts 7-15) in The Ruins of Ambrai (pages 246-285). We go on side-quests, dig deeper into the Ladder Song, and dissect sexism reversals that don’t quite land right.

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

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Episode Transcript

0:00:00 Introduction, welcome, Patron thanks

Ali: Welcome to the Hot Nuance Book Club, a podcast in which a novelist, screenwriter and a podcaster walk into a book, diving into its craft and impact in their mission to bring nuance back. I’m Ali, and I’m a screenwriter, most notably having written, excuse me, for the TV show Rugrats. In addition, I’m the co-host of Wheel Takes Podcast, a podcast that is reading through The Hunger Games and the Wheel of Time right now, and also is doing some show breakdowns of different TV shows and the writing craft.

Aradia: I am Aradia. I am one half of the Wheel of Time Spoilers podcast, currently reading Crossroads of Twilight, and headed to WotCon next week.

Ali: Oh, me too!

Aradia: And yeah, I’m also a podcast producer for Fox and Raven Media.

Bree: And I’m Bree, one half of the sci fi romance fantasy author Kit Rocha, and I have 50 something days to finish writing a book that I am working on right now.

Ali: Ooooh!

Bree: Yes, it comes out the same day season two of Wheel of Time drops. So every time I get on Twitter, somebody is doing a countdown. I’m like, Oh, shit. Oh, shit, shit, shit, shit. So that’s all I’m thinking about today: writing a book. And this one that we’re reading.

Ali: That’s a good segue. Currently, we are nuancing our way through the Ruins of Ambrai. So, did I get that, finally?

Bree: I think you got it.

Ali: Oh, my God. Thank you. So if you haven’t read that yet, go do that and come back when you have! For the rest of you, let’s break it down now.

Bree: Before we jump into the time machine this week, we have some patrons to thank. All of our episodes, of course, will remain free. But if you’d like access to an ad free version of this podcast, you can support us at\theHotNuanceBookClub, and the link is in our 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 four new patrons to thank. First up, thank you to our new Hot Nuanced patron, Spencer R!

Aradia: Thank you, Spencer!

Bree: Thank you, Spencer. We also have three Hottest Nuance patrons to induct into our Hall of Official Titles. For those who pledge at the Hottest Nuance level, we will 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 at this level will be given their own official Saint title, where you were the patron saint of something that we think makes life worth living.

Aradia: Personal joys.

Ali: It’s true.

Bree: And we have a lot of fun coming up with these. This week we would like to welcome – and I am sorry if I pronounce this wrong, I am going to do my best – Bella Nanna, Patron Saint of Elegantly Color Coded Spreadsheets, which is personally, very literally, one of my favorite things in the world. I am a database designer. It just doesn’t get better than that. We are also welcoming Charlie, the Patron Saint of Finding a Perfectly Intact Seashell.

Ali: Yeah, this is personal for me, because I found recently in my life – I’ve wanted to do this since I was a kid – a fully formed sand dollar on the beach. And that was the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me.

Aradia: Woooow.

Ali: Honestly, it’s all I ever wanted as a kid. And then I found one, and it was so perfect.

Aradia: Ach, that’s amazing.

Bree: I grew up, like, literally on the beach by the way, if you don’t know, like Maine Beach. Like, our property was literally on the beach. And so, it is harder than you would think to find a perfect intact seashell.

Ali: It’s really hard. And so when you do, it’s so sweet.

Aradia: Yeah, I’ve looked. I have looked for years on the Oregon coast. I have yet to find one that is perfect.

Bree: It’s harder on the rocky beaches because, like, the waves just crash them into the rocks.

Aradia: Yeah, it’s brutal.

Ali: I think you also have to go early in the morning. You have to really go out early because that’s when I found mine, it was like 7 a.m. We were walking on the beach because I was like, in a way, what I want to do before I turn a significant milestone age, is I want to accomplish this lifelong goal of mine that is so small. And I was like, so every morning at like 7 a.m. – because I read on the internet that was the best time to find sand dollars that were perfectly formed – we would walk the beach and I found a ton of them that were broken. Then I finally found one that was intact and whole. And I was so proud, so proud of myself.

Bree: Victory.

Ali: Thank you, Charlie, for being the patron saint of that.

Bree: And you have to give thanks to Charlie, who is the patron saint of that now. Finally, we are welcoming Jane, who is the Patron Saint of When The Chunky Puppy Stretches And Falls Over, Then Gets Back Up Like Nothing Happened.

Ali: The chunkiest puppy.

Aradia: Just feel the softness.

Bree: Which is the most adorable thing that we could possibly imagine.

Ali: My sister just got a dachshund puppy and y’all, I’ll send you some pictures. It is the cutest thing. He is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. It’s wild.

Bree: And they just don’t know where their legs go yet. So they’re like, Ooh, and then they, like, tip over.

Ali: And his legs are so short. And the other day they had a video of him barking at himself in the mirror? Oh my God. Oh my God, he’s so cute.

Aradia: (sighs) Puppies.

Ali: I just wanted to share. Our family has grown.

Bree: Fabulous.

Ali: With a chunky puppy.

Bree: So welcome so much to our three new Saints. You all have to give thanks to them for the wonderful things in your life.

0:06:00 Bree’s Time Travel Adventures

And now we are going to jump into my mostly reliable time travel machine. Please keep your hands and feet inside the car as we go back to 1994. In honor of the ongoing WGA strike and the potential SAG strike, I’m going to do a little strike history.

Ali: Yay!

Bree: In 1994, the Major League Baseball Players Association began a 232 day strike that caused the 1994 season to be completely canceled.

Ali: Iconic. Disruption!

Bree: There you go. So, yeah, don’t complain about your TV shows this fall. Pay your workers.

Ali: I don’t want to hear anything about the quality of TV shows. Let’s hear –

Bree: Since we’re talking about Hollywood, at the time of its release in 1994, True Lies was the most expensive film ever made, as the first film to have over $100 million production budget.

Ali: And then Marvel saw that and went, Bah.

Aradia: Hold my beer.

Ali: Hold my beer!

Bree: Hold all of my beers. Yeah, we’ve gotten a little pricier since then. The world’s first smartphone, the IBM Simon, has gone on sale.

Ali: In 1994?

Bree: In 1994.

Ali: I had a Nokia.

Bree: I don’t think it was quite as smart as our iPhones, but. Yeah. Yeah. So they were definitely trying it. Breaking the heart of xennials everywhere, Commodore Computers declared bankruptcy on April 29th, 1994. And you two are too young for this, I’m pretty sure. But all of you out there, if you know LOAD, comma, apostrophe, asterisk, comma, apostrophe, whatever. I can’t do it now, I can’t say it out loud. I can only type it. LOAD, comma, quotes asterisk quotes, comma 8, comma 1 (LOAD “*”,8,1). If you were a certain age, you got that. And if you are anyone else, you think I just had some sort of fit?

Ali: I was watching you for signs of a stroke for a hot second.

Bree: Anyway, hearts go out to Commodore, my first computer. R.I.P. to a legend to 1994. And in 1994, Melanie Rawn decided it was time to gender flip locker room talk. How did that go?

Ali: I was going to say.

Bree: You be the judges, Welcome to the Ruins of Ambrai.

(all perish in a fit of laughter)

Ali: I wrote that down. I wrote that down in big letters. I was like, Locker room talk, let’s discuss.

Bree: I got through this and I was like, okay, so like 80% of our episode is going to be discussing Sarra’s attempt at locker room talk.

Ali: Oh my god.

0:08:00 Part seven discussion

Bree: Yeah. So welcome to this chapter. This is our second session, plunging into Adventure Time with Sarra, going on a quest. And on this episode, a couple of side quests. So what did you guys think?

Ali: I dug it. I dug it. I was excited about how the Ladder song became super important.

Bree: Yeah.

Ali: In this iteration. I think it’s interesting – I’m struggling with how much they know Sarra knows.

Aradia: Yeah.

Bree: Sarra’s definitely lying a lot to people right now.

Ali: Yeah. So to a point where I was kind of like, Wait, they don’t realize that she knows about Cailet, that kind of stuff. Where I was like, Oh, okay. So they’re not up to speed with what she’s aware of.

Bree: No, Alin’s getting a little suspicious because why is this chick, like, all of a sudden super interested in his foster sister? Yeah, it’s a -.

Ali: She’s super with it.

Aradia: Yeah, I found it very – it’s fun to be in the heads of the impulsive teenagers who are like, You know what we should do? Absolutely zero thinking. We should just have an idea and go running off with it. Like, think you know, we think we might have figured out the secret to this map. We should tell no one where we’re going.

Aradia: We should barely take enough road snacks to get through a single day, and we should just go. And like, I kind of love being in the heads of those characters because it’s so not me

Ali: It’s stressing me out.

Aradia: Like I will take half a day to go anywhere, and I will bring the kitchen sink on a single overnight. Like, I love the impulsiveness, very teenager, but also, yeah, keeping track of who’s aware of, who knows who. And I know that you know that you know that I know, but I don’t know that he knows that you know that I know. And I’m just like, I cannot keep up with that part of it. But I did really enjoy the kind of side quest, rollicking adventure vibe of this. This felt very light hearted. I’m sure it’s going to get more like, implications as we get on. But for now, it just felt very low stakes frolicking on the adventure scale.

Bree: I mean, she was like, Let’s go explore a haunted city. And it went a lot better for her than it did for Mat Cauthon in Wheel of Time. Right?

Ali: It did get a lot better for her.

Aradia: Not one cursed dagger.

Bree: She went to like two haunted cities!

Ali: Two haunted cities, and did not touch – did not take back anything that she shouldn’t have taken. You know what I mean?

Bree: So let’s go start at the beginning, because part seven, it just opened strong. They’re like, what if we get everybody naked and, you know, have a bath in the water, fight in the river, try to do a little reverse sexism.

Aradia: And then somehow – and then Jews showed up, which was like, what?

Ali: Who showed up?

Aradia: The Jews? Suddenly there’s Jews.

Ali: Like Judaism?

Bree: The circumcision.

Ali: Oh!

Aradia: Suddenly out of nowhere, the really, like, prolific giant families. Okay, we’re stuck in space Catholics, right? But now we learned that the giant clan of people that has a super high birth rate are the people who do circumcision.

Ali: The space Jewish.

Aradia: The space Jews??

Ali: Are there, are… Wow.

Bree: It was an interesting random diversion. I’m not sure what to think that what she was like. If this was like, I’m going to be inclusive? Except for like, I don’t really know if getting any points there for just, that’s that’s the limit of your –

Ali: It’s like, they’re like, Yeah they do it, we think it’s weird, but whatever.

Aradia: Well like, the way I read it was like We, we did it, We got out and we found a place to proliferate. After after centuries of prosecution, after centuries of diaspora, after centuries of genocide, we are now the breeding clan of this planet. We are everywhere.

Bree: Well, Lillen Ostin does pretty much take over everything. While having nothing to do with politics.

Aradia: It just. I don’t know. To me, it felt like this weird, We did it. We finally got out from under the thumb of extermination. I mean, granted, we’ve got nothing else of like, you know, Judeo culture or whatever. Just this random note of circumcision. But it felt jarring. And then that was how I chose to make the jar feel good.

Bree: I mean, I like that. That’s a cool interpretation. I will go with that.

Ali: I like that interpretation. I just saw Leopoldstadt on Broadway. Well, we just went and saw it. We were at a wedding in New York, and I was like, While we’re here. Let’s go see this play that everyone’s talking about. And yeah, just very much that, from that headspace. I just so appreciate that interpretation because that’s been stewing in my head for a little while too, because they were talking about like the diaspora and they’re constantly landing in places that bring a lot of rough stuff. And yeah, it’s great. That’s a great interpretation, Aradia, I’m going to choose to go with that. It’s interesting that the cultural thing that they choose to remark upon is circumcision. But, you know, here we are.

Aradia: Yeah, yeah.

Bree: I mean, I guess if we were going to have to start talking about the dicks, this is one way to do it. So. So yeah, I actually want to shout out Patrick Weekes who joined our discord, and they are reading the book and they got a little bit ahead, so they were DMing me and we were talking about the like, reverse sexism sort of attempts. And they said something – I’m paraphrasing here, so sorry Patrick, for destroying your wonderful quote – It’s like a fish in an aquarium looking out and trying to write a story about this invisible water they see. Which is like the idea of a woman trying to write about the patriarchy reversed, like we can’t even quite imagine what the outside view of it, and we just live inside it. And so I think sometimes reading these attempts to flip locker room talk on its head, it really sort of feels like there’s something not there, there’s something – It’s not all flipping, like parts of it are flipping and parts of it are getting stuck. And Sarra is still like somehow prudish and embarrassed and, you know, shocked that like – I just feel like, if you were going to take like a teenage boy and you’re going to write a stereotypical thing about them, having them be offended that girls took off their clothes in front of them, would probably like not be their top reaction.

Ali: I don’t think they would feel offended. I don’t think they’d feel offended by it, you know? Yeah, I was kind of reading it going, I mean, this locker room talk is still pretty – and I’m not like, Yeah, let’s degrade men, right? Like, I’m not team, Let’s start objectifying them in a degrading, cruel way. But this locker room talk felt very tame, very respectful. Well, for the most part. And I’m like, Well! I feel like teenage boys are maybe not always that respectful, you know what I mean?

Aradia: Yeah. And I felt like the respect was really couched in this almost male gaze, like almost respectability politics. Like there was just the whole couching of what she thought respect was, felt very like, not like how a real person thinks, I guess? I don’t know. I just didn’t. It didn’t feel believable to me.

Bree: Yeah. The more overt her attempts are to have basically, you know, Sarra be a chauvinist, like, you know, the more weird it feels. Because I think like the subtle stuff, you know, it sometimes hits a lot stronger. And then when you’re trying to be overt, it’s just there’s something about virginal, waiting until marriage, Sarra, that she just lacks the standing to be a sexist – he can’t pull this off. I’m not saying she can’t be sexist. Obviously she can. This didn’t really work for me. It didn’t really hit as, you know – it means a lot. I guess maybe Imi was a lot better. I believe that Imi was sexually harassing them. (laughs nervously)

Aradia: She was believable. She was believable. I could actually – because she came from places that should be. I mean, maybe part of it’s just that Sarra’s like, emulating adults without really connecting the dots, because that is awkward in real life. And in that regard, it’s believable? Because Imi really felt like she was eyeing a piece of ass and was into it.

Ali: So maybe she was like giving off 40 year old virgin vibes, or she was just like, you know, Boobs. They’re like bags of sand. And maybe that’s why it felt awkward, she was trying to fit that mold and fit that vibe. But she’s, you know, not experienced enough to really contribute to the conversation in a believable way.

Bree: Yeah. I mean,actually I like that. I like I think that, you know this is this is one of those things where it’s always hard because we need to leave room and – like I am speaking here, trying not to like get spoilery, but I’m speaking here from the benefit of knowing that Sarra is not asexual or something. You know, I have future knowledge, so I know that this is not what is trying to be conveyed, but you know, you always want to leave room for individual people to have a variety of responses in situations like this. So like, I don’t want to say that everybody has to, because, absolutely not. Some people would probably just be like, I do not give a shit about the naked people, or, you know, I just don’t want to deal with it.

But I have had it like a journey from when I was 15, where it felt like the most subversive thing I had ever read, to now I’m, you know, 40, and I’m like, I don’t know if she’s quite as subversive as I used to think.

Ali: And I mean, we do talk about the times that – I know you’re the Kool-Aid man bursting into the room going, Actually, there were people doing this.

Bree: Yeah.

Ali: And I do think, you know, Melanie Rawn was one of them. But we talk about trying to create the world in which our writings are irrelevant or aged poorly. And I think, you know, there are things that are obvious to us now in terms of things feeling off that might not have felt off in 1984.

Bree: Exactly.

Ali: You know what I mean? Like, we’re at that point still debating so many things that now we consider a given. And I guess the exciting thing about being alive is going like, What’s next? What are the things we take for granted now that later will become a big conversation? What biases do we have that are getting broken down later?

Bree: Asexuality has been quite contentious on Twitter here for the last couple of days. So I think that’s one of them, that even in 2023 –

Ali: Oh, really?

Bree: Oh, yeah. People just pretending it’s not a thing.

Ali: Oh, stop.

Bree: Like, I think that’s something that we’re right now struggling to get better at talking about.

Ali: Well, it’s the same thing with, like, bisexuality, right? People like to pretend that it’s not real and it doesn’t exist. And as Carrie Bradshaw once said on that very awful episode of Sex and the City, it’s just a one way ticket to gay town. It’s real. Like, it’s real. And what does it matter? Like, who is it hurting? Why do we care so much about what other people are doing sexuality wise? Let’s just all go like, That’s great. Have a good day. You know, I just, it doesn’t – I understand why expressing your sexuality matters. I’m not suggesting that people just all keep quiet about it, but I’m saying, for the people who are like, It’s not real, why are you treating it like it’s a unicorn? It’s obviously real to that other person, so just, just respect it. Who cares? It doesn’t affect you.

Aradia: The point that Bree is making, having this be a world that – it’s ideal if this book has aged badly, right? It would be ideal if this book actually was subversive in 1994 and now we’ve been able to progress to the point that it has aged badly. And I do feel like this scene does capture that, because I was thinking like, How awkward would this in feel if it was men making the comments? And I’m like, Exactly as awkward. I would feel just as awkward if it was like a 40 year old and 17 year old man pair having their bathing thing and talking about the women in their party. It would be just as, like, Oh God, the child is cringe and the man has more suave and like, it’s the same, right? I don’t like it, but I feel like there’s a 1 to 1 of like the amount of cringe I would expect from a 1994 book where there was men doing this. So in that regard, maybe Melanie has achieved our hope for her in having her books age badly through her trope subversion. Perhaps.

Ali: Yeah. And I would hope that we’ve come a long way since 1994, right? That was, you know, 28 years ago.

Bree: Since the IBM smartphone Simon?

Ali: I’ve never even – I’ve got to be honest with you, and I’m going to hurt your feelings. Maybe. I had never heard of the Commodore, of Commodore, either.

Bree: No, I haven’t heard of it.

Aradia: I’ve heard of the Commodore, but I didn’t have one.

Bree: Oh, okay. Well, the Commodore does make me sad, but I was using that when I was five years old. Okay. Like I would get out of bed and sneak downstairs, and I had this game called Reader Rabbit where, like, they had to, like, get out the floppie, the big floppy disk, and put it in there. And I had to type that LOAD, like load, you know, because I had to, like, tell it which memory thing to go look into to load it. And so I learned how to type that when I was like five, so that I could play Reader Rabbit.

Ali: Cute! Yeah, I mean, I remember dial up, that’s the one. I’m like, that’s what I remember, is the dial up, and the noise.

Aradia: Aah. That screaming song.

Ali: Yeah.

Bree: Oh, the noise. A very 1994 noise.

Ali: I mean, I think I was talking to my father in law not that long ago about things, where he was kind of expressing his disappointment in his generation and the things that they were and weren’t able to accomplish. And, you know, they obviously still have time to accomplish quite a bit. But, you know, he was just expressing some disappointment. And I was like, Well, I mean, I think you turn – you know, you have a big freighter. You can’t turn the freighter all of a sudden. It has to go very gradually. I think the world has changed a lot since the sixties.

Aradia: So much!

Ali: So much that I go, I mean, there was a lot done. It’s not enough, but yeah. The boat’s been turning, the boat’s turning. And so maybe the boat has turned a little bit away from this, but maybe it was a necessary stepping stone to your books, Bree, as an example. This is going to influence the books that you eventually grew up to write, right?

Bree: Mhmm. And honestly, I don’t know if I would do well trying to write a matriarchy, which is definitely something I’ve never done. I tried to write – I mean, I’m just trying to imagine egalitarian worlds and one of my biggest worldbuilding challenges is trying to imagine worlds where consent is completely normalized and that’s one of the hardest worldbuilding things that I ever do, because we do not live in that world. We do not live in a world of mutual consent normalization. So, yeah, I mean, I don’t know what I would think about with a matriarchy. It’s because I feel like they tend to go in different directions. And I think Melanie Rawn – props to her –

Ali and Aradia: Yeah.

Bree: She didn’t try to take, And then ladies would all do wonderful things because women power, magical, soft, good people. Like no, bitches can be –

Aradia: It fit the grittiness of the nineties. Women can be bastards at this point.

Ali: I will beat that forever.

Bree: I mean, white ladies historically are some of the worst villains that have ever existed.

Ali: I mean!

Aradia: (sighs) So true.

Bree: Just be real, as three white ladies.

Ali: I am sick of them. So sick of em.

Aradia: So tired of it.

Bree: We come from a long tradition of being – yeah, terrible, terrible people.

Ali: Why are you so terrible?

Aradia: Why are white people?

Ali: I wake up and I think, how can I not be terrible? And it’s weird that other people wake up and go, How can I be terrible today? It’s weird, so weird. But I also think about The Power, which is a book, I know, Bree, you’ve read.

Bree: I haven’t read it, but I watched the show and then I read the summary of it, so.

Ali: I think it’s worth a read because I think it’s really interesting. I mean –

Bree: I am going to – I am thinking about reading it. But yeah.

Ali: I think it’s really hard to write a matriarchy, because there’s, The women can do no wrong, will make a utopia. Which we all know is probably not true. But then there’s the criticism that I think The Power has gotten from some people that I’ve talked to, where they’re like, I think it’s a little too much of a 1 to 1, of what, you know, women would do, that women would act very similarly: oppress men.

Bree: That women would immediately go out and try to like, yeah, do the exact opposite oppression. Which I think Melanie Rawn is trying to somewhat say.

Ali: So I mean it’s interesting when you get like, this book that was written, and I think that she is kind of trying to do that same 1 to 1. And The Power, which is a very different book, and different tonally, but goes I think, really hard into that in a way where sometimes I think there’s almost a defensive reaction to it, where you’re like, Well, they wouldn’t do that much! I mean, that’s a little extreme! Where I kind of go, I mean, I don’t know! We can’t know, so I don’t know. I just think it’s a hard task to put in front of oneself. And I think it’s interesting when we’re looking at the wheel of Time, looking at this, looking potentially at The Power, if either of you ever read it. Just kind of thinking about the ways in which time has affected how people put matriarchy out there and what they would be doing, and also thinking about how our interpretation of what that 1 to 1 would look like has changed.

Bree: Yeah, well, one thing I think is interesting about The Power is that – for those of you who don’t know, it’s a story about women. And in the TV show, they define this as – it happens with trans women too anyone who is like, I think, and intersex people – that, you know, they develop this sort of thing which basically gives them electrical lightning bolt powers from their hands. And so basically overnight there is a power shift in, you know, who feels safe walking around at night and things like that. And so I think the difference between that is, that’s like talking about giving power to a repressed class. And Sarra is literally the result of 38 generations of privilege. So she is never been in a place where she is anything but the top of the pyramid. And so I do think, you know, yeah, I feel like Sarra should be a result. And like we talked about in the last episode with her blithe assertion that she should be in charge because she’s not emotionally invested like everybody else. You know, I do think that there should probably be – and this may be part of my problem with some scenes. Where I’m like, She’s acting like someone I don’t like, but she should be acting like someone I don’t like, if she’s the result of 38 generations of privilege.

Ali: That’s true.

Bree: She should occasionally be someone that I don’t like.

Ali: Like a reverse chauvinist. What is it? A misandrist? Act a little bit misandrist. For me, I didn’t really like – Okay, here’s what I think. And maybe I just misread some things, or didn’t read it. But I think for me it wasn’t so much that she, like, had these ideas and stuff, because I was like, yeah, that tracks as somebody who’s like the top of the pyramid, never had anything challenged for them, never had anybody, go, Hey, the way that you’re talking, you’re speaking is dumb and wrong. I guess for me, the men just seem very okay with being on the bottom.

Bree: Yeah, except for Collan, who was sort of treated like he is an asshole for it.

Ali: Yeah, but I also think that he can also be explained by his past as someone who’s been enslaved, too?

Bree: We have not run into him again yet.

Ali: Where there is like, it seems like the men who’ve grown up with this lot in life other than Alin, who – you know, that was because he was queer more than anything else – don’t seem to have a super strong feeling about being at the bottom, or at least they haven’t so far.

Bree: Well, they don’t seem to be agitating. They’re talking a lot about fighting for the same reason Sarra is fighting. But has anyone, have we actually had any of these men yet say, I also would like to be able to own property?

Aradia: No…

Ali: Yeah. We’ve talked a lot about like the Casts being done away with, but we’ve never been like, And men also can vote, or whatever, you know what I mean? Or they can have their own property, or have a credit card. Or can inherit!

Bree: I mean, that’s a good point. If Alin could own property, he wouldn’t have to run away instead of get married. So actually, that’s a really good point. I don’t think that we have encountered a man who is upset about it.

Aradia: There’s no male liberation, like, plank to their revolution.

Ali: No, nobody’s going, And also, men have rights and power. Even though it seems like men are largely more in charge of the Weavers, there’s never a point where they’re like, And men will be equal to women! At least I don’t remember there being one.

Bree: No, they don’t seem to have said anything like that yet. And I will say we’re going to get some more inside perspective in the last part of – Yeah, because next week we start Betrayals, so we’re going to get some – I’ll just give a tiny little thing: We’re going to jump back into some Glenin point of view pretty soon here. Adult Glenin. So we have some adult Sarra. That’s what this part is. And so it’s going to get interesting. But no, no, I think that that is like and – it sort of shocks me now that I hadn’t actually, like, thought about that, because I’m really like going through my brain now thinking, When do? Because I know some people eventually do, but like we’ve met a bunch of men, Sarra is picking up lots of these rebel Mages. And they’re not asking her, So, how do you feel about me being able to hold the franchise, and own property, and probably, you know, lots of other stuff. The only thing we’ve had is the brief brush with Val’s paternal rights.

Ali: Yeah, I feel like when I see Chauvinist Mat, kind of like, supposed-to-be-likable chauvinist men in TV shows and literature now. You know, one that’s going to go through a transformation? Where we’ll like him more and more as the story goes on, as he gets aware of himself? There’s always a woman that’s kind of challenging him, right? There’s always someone in his life that’s going like,I can kick your ass, because I’m a woman. And, you know, then she does. And then he’s like, Wait, women are people. And then he has got like a whole, like, numbers thing flying by his head, and then realizes that women are valuable. Right? There’s usually that element where it’s like, you know, the women prove him wrong and everybody’s happy because he’s not a chauvinist anymore. Whereas I feel like, noone’s doing that for Sarra. No one’s like –

Bree: No, so far, all the men she’s picked up seem pretty happy with her in charge.

Ali: Yeah, I was like, Where’s my sassy young man who’s going to show her that men can do things too? It kind of feels like we accept that men can do things too, even though we don’t view them as full people. Like, they’re still leading the charge a lot on things.

Bree: They’re still getting a lot of presumed competency, is what I point out often, that men get in fiction that women don’t. They are still –

Ali: The invisibility of women in some spaces that I’m not getting from the men in these spaces. Like today, I went to the mechanic with Gus, to get my car fixed because I got a flat. And the mechanic didn’t talk to me once. He didn’t look me in the eye. He started talking to Gus, and like, walking away with Gus. And I was, like, left scurrying after them. And I just, I turned to Gus at one point, and I just, like, I just wish we could go to the mechanic’s one time together, and have a man look me in the eye, and think that maybe I know what I’m talking about. Do I fucking know what I’m talking about? No!

Aradia: But some presumed competence would be nice!

Ali: I want the presumed competence. Yes, I want the presumed competence. Like, you know, I just don’t want to be don’t want to feel –

Bree: Oh, it drives me crazy when like, come out to install, like, computer stuff or, like, internet. And they’re always looking at my husband and I’m like, I have a computer science degree. Talk to me.

Ali: Yeah. I’m just not feeling that same level of – or men just going like, I know more than you, even though you know more than they do, because they just operate under the assumption that they know more about a topic than you, right? Because no one’s ever told them, Maybe women understand more than you. Like, you know, in this particular area, they just have an assumption that they know more than you. And I’m not feeling that level of assumed incompetence of the men in this space. Like with the Ladder stuff, noone’s telling Alin, You don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re just a man.

Aradia: I kept expecting that to happen. I literally kept expecting a splaining situation to him. But no.

Bree: Sarra is not lecturing Alin on Ladders. No.

Ali: Yes. Like, where is she explaining to the Ladderer how Ladders work? You know what I did?

Bree: Yeah. And the only thing she does later in this, is she explains how Ambrai, and like the Mage and Captal stuff work, but she’s doing that because she’s from there and they just don’t know it! So like she is the competent one. Yeah, she’s not doing a lot of that and I do think that’s really also a great point.

Ali: Yeah. And I mean, it’s not necessarily a criticism. I just think that at this point – if I’m thinking about the nineties correctly, there was a lot of these kinds of bigotry or more overt, right? And we didn’t necessarily always get into the nitty gritty of like, these are the more subtle ways in which – because we didn’t have time, we had to deal with the more overt shit, right? Like we had to deal with the more overt shit, so that we could deal with the more subtle shit later. This is why I feel like now there’s a lot of breaking down of more subtle shit, and be like, Damn, can I do anything? And I’m like, Well, yes, but you have to do it thoughtfully. Like, we unfortunately have to use our brains, right? So I just wonder. Yeah, I think for me, the thing I keep bumping up against is the more subtle ways in which, like having that level of power and the assumption of that power impacts you in a more subtle way. Because, yeah, I mean, even Alin, like, she gets stuck with the Ward and Alin’s the one that pushes her through it, right? And it’s just those little things. Let’s dive in, let’s dive in. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Bree: And it makes sense. And Rawn explains to us – well let’s, let’s just do a little summary thing. So like, basically what happens is, after our swimming in the river, and the boys are naked, and Sarra and Imi do a little refresher on penises and how they work.

Ali: We have to assure men that we’re not body shaming in our locker room talk.

Aradia: Yeah, Yeah. Of course size doesn’t matter! In the locker room talk.

Bree: Yes.

Ali: Yeah, we have to put it in.

Ali: For the male read.

Aradia: That is so funny.

Bree: So yeah. We find out Imi’s into knees, and she’s particularly into cute – I thought cute knees was just the funniest thing. I was like, okay, if I cannot say I have ever started by looking at a dude at his knees, but.

Ali: I feel like Melanie Rawn is like, We’re going to try the ankle thing, but I got to pick something different.

Aradia: Yeah, that’s totally what that’s giving off, the ankle.

Bree: Cute knees are her well-toned calves, I guess.

Ali: I mean, maybe they got a little dimple or something.

Bree: Apparently. Healer Senison has some cute knees. So Imi goes off and hits that. So, yeah, they go fishing together. And I guess the implication is strong that Imi and Senison go and do some sexing.

Ali: They’re going to catch something!

Aradia: But I like the casual hooking up on the road trip. That’s cool.

Bree: Yeah. I mean, I do appreciate that. I appreciate this. No matter what message we have gotten from Sarra, we’re getting some counterprogramming now, that it is okay to go grab a hot dude and drag him into the bushes if he’s down.

Ali: Yeah, the iffy is done being important.

Bree: Yeah. At least we know women are allowed to fuck.

Ali: So finally, we’re in a fantasy world where women are allowed to fuck. Thank you so much. It was very important to me. I was very excited. It’s very important to me that women are allowed to fuck in worlds. I was reading like the Sarah J Maas books and none of them, I believe, were virgins. I was like, God frickin bless. Like, Yes, please. So yeah, I was happy about that, and the Maas universe.

0:40:33 Part eight discussion

Bree: So, section, part eight. Basically, they start off on their quest again and they find this little shrine. And this shrine has a Ladder in it. Alin can tell it has a Ladder in it. A Malerrisi Ladder, and they’re like, Let’s not go fucking with that.

Aradia: Spoilers, actually.

Bree: Yes. Narrator: And then they fucked with that. Yeah. Alin, wakes Sarra up that night. And he remembers – And we find out that, when the evil Mage there back at Ostin Hold dumped all the memories into his head. They were literal memories. Like they have been passing down the memories of these Ladders from brain to brain for generations. And so Alin has all these memories of laying partial Ladders with no connections, and they give him nightmares. And one of these nightmares is this waterfall at the Weaver’s castle. And he thinks that this shrine, because of the rhyme and like ,Ali, Melanie Rawn is really saying to you, you better read all the songs.

Ali: And I was like, I’m not going to read all that, but I’m happy for you. Or sorry that happened. I like. Just. Can’t.

Bree: In this instance it’s a copper ring.

Aradia: Because they see the copper ring being maintained on the ground and then that triggers them to think about the verse, which then reminds them about the waterfall, because knowing what you’re thinking is apparently part of being a Ladder rat.

Bree: Yes. So part of the rhyme is, ‘Spring or summer, summer or spring/ Ladder in the copper ring.’

Aradia: ‘Fall or winter, winter or fall/ Ladder near the waterfall.’

Bree: They’re like, Let’s go try it out! And they’re literally going to sneak off without Val, and Val is already awake. And he’s like, The fuck you will.

Aradia: So rude. They’re leaving one of – leaving the adults behind, fine. But to leave behind their age mate and one of their lovers? Rude.

Ali: That would be rude. That would be rude, and realistic if they were like, Val’s too hysterical to come.

Aradia: That would have been funny. Yeah.

Ali: I wanted a little –

Aradia: Stay home, honey.

Ali: Just a little.

Bree: But Val’s apparently too polite to yell at Sarra because she’s a blooded lady. So he just like, yells at Alin.

Ali: This is the other thing. This is the other thing. We’re still – like, women have all the power and I get it – But there were still like, But they’re fragile women, they’re ladies, and we can’t swear in front of the lady. And there’s just like a part of me that’s like, Huh? Hmm. Yeah. There’s a small, small thing. And you know what? But I could not do better than that. So it’s hard. It’s hard, there’s so much to unpack all the time.

Bree: Yeah, I mean, that is interesting. Like being polite and not yelling. Like, I get that. Definitely. Because, like, we know that people can hold their tempers when they only like, you know, abuse you never yell at their male boss or whatever. So like, I can understand not yelling at someone with more power than you, but like, the swearing thing is sort of funny. But then he does swear in front of her anyway.

Ali: So I kind of wanted her to, like, swear in front of him and be like, Oh, I’m so sorry. Your sweet, delicate male ears can’t handle – That’s what to me, feels like the casual misogyny, that seems goodhearted, that I am looking for. I’m looking for the good hearted, casual misogyny.

Bree: So you are looking for a role reversal from Wheel of Time where Elaine is just swearing and Mat doesn’t understand any of the swears.

Ali: Yes, that’s what I want. That’s what I want. I want that. Like that scene for me would be perfect. Yeah, we’re there like, They’re too delicate to handle bad news.

Bree: Yes, the men are too delicate to understand the rude words. And that’s definitely not a thing. Because we definitely continue to have – even when they were on their way to beautiful Lusira’s house, the men were all singing dirty ballads. And Sarra was, like, shocked by them.

Ali: Yeah. See, And I’m just like, maybe I just come from a very sweary family. You know what, that might be it. I might just come from a very sweary clan.

Bree: No, no, because, listen. I read a lot of – well I don’t read a lot, but I read my share of Regency Romance. And the Dukes are all, like, basically the equivalent of Sarra is, right, and they’re all very sweary and very dirty ballad-y. You know?

Ali: Yes. And they’re like, But we only behave that way – I want the women to be like, But we only behave that way amongst each other. We don’t, we wouldn’t like, soil, the ears of an innocent man maiden. Like that’s what I’m looking for, apparently.

Bree: I get it. I get it. I feel like Imi has kind of got those vibes, and Sarra’s just fallen down on the job for us.

Ali: Maybe. Maybe it’s Sarra’s perspective, that’s because she’s too young and inexperienced in the world, too.

Aradia: She’s so sheltered, too.

Ali: Stupid sheltered. Yeah.

Bree: She is very sheltered. So they go back to this, the three of them, they tell them that they’re going to meet them. And they tell me that they’re going to meet him in Haven Port, and then they’re like, let’s go back to the shrine and go to the haunted, abandoned murder castle headquarters of all of our worst enemies.

Ali: Always in favor of murder castle adventures.

Aradia: They just roll the D20 and it comes up 20. And it’s fine.

Ali: That nat 20 really even quite.

Bree: Yet. So they go through the Ladder. And, surprise! We’re in murder castle. Murder castle is full of dead bodies. Or at least the immediate hallways are. And we get a little of Sarra thinking about how they faked this whole thing so carefully. You know, there’s the missing Mages, but none of them have, like, identity cards or anything because they were, like, killed somewhere else and brought here with their little fancy sigil pins to frame the Mages. And there’s lots of dead council guards and there’s lots of dead supposed Weavers. But those could just be like servants. Who the hell knows, right?

Ali: And the old ones, right? Like they said, it was like the old, not very powerful, or servants.

Bree: Yeah, old ones. So they’ve got this abandoned castle, and they just decide to go wandering around it, because this is a party on a stupid side quest. And they’re going to commit to exploring. So what score are you guys giving them for audacity and forethought and planning here?

Ali: I mean, now that I’m old enough to be the adult in the situation, I’m like, Have you lost your minds? Are you stupid? Do you think you’re immortal? What is wrong with you? Go to – at least tell someone where you’ve gone.

Aradia: Right?

Ali: Like one person. Right. At least tell somebody before you go search the haunted castle. The scary haunted castle – probably haunted because there’s a lot of dead bodies in there, so it’s probably haunted, right? That could be warded with anything. Like, you’re lucky the only Ward that you found was, like, scary, spooky ward.

Bree: Well, is it? Because here’s the real question. They wander around a lot. They look out some windows, they find bedrooms. Everything seems abandoned. Sarra keeps thinking that people are watching her, and they do find one ward, which is basically, it’s a, people are coming to kill you Ward. So Sarra is frozen in fear she can’t move, and Alin has to tackle her through it and Val does a flying leap through it.

Ali: Very heroic.

Bree: But when they go to return to the waterfall to go back, they’re on the other side of the waterfall. So did they really not encounter any other Wards? Like, what do you – how do you think they got to the other side of the waterfall?

Aradia: Yeah, that felt a little fold-y. And I didn’t entirely trust Sarra being like, Oh, I’m just nervous. And that’s why I feel like there’s eyes on me. I’m like, Really? There’s no eyes in the haunted castle? I’m not believing that, Sarra. Why are you believing that?

Bree: I feel like they ended up in the opposite places they were trying to go to. So maybe that deserved a little more questioning.

Aradia: Possibly.

Bree: Maybe. They ended up back on the opposite side of the waterfall. They kind of shrug. It feels very suspicious, but their immediate problem is, how do they get out of here? And it turns out it’s another Ladder. And Alin’s like, Oh, I know where it goes. Brb, y’all! And disappears.

Aradia: That was so reckless. I wanted to smack him.

Ali: Tell us where you’re going, where you think you’re going, so we can go check.

Aradia: Double splitting the party.

Bree: And remember, if he doesn’t actually know where this is going and he’s just wildly guessing, he will die, and then they’ll be stuck in murder Weaver castle forever, where nobody knows where they went.

Aradia: Brilliant.

Ali: So I’m saying, tell people where you’re going.

Bree: But it turns out Alin rolled another natural 20. He pops back in and is like, Ha, LOL, you’ll never guess where we’re going! And he drags them through and we get that iconic final line: And two blinks later, Sarra returned to the city of her birth for the first time in more than seventeen years.

Aradia: Shots taken.

Bree: Yeah, shots taken. The Ladder goes to Ambrai. And so Sarra is back home.

Aradia: With no warning. Like, how traumatizing and startling and upsetting is that? To be, like, wandering along on the side quest, there’s just some random haunted city, and then, bam, you’re at ground zero for all of your familial trauma.

Bree: Yeah.

Ali: True.

Bree: She goes over and looks out a window, and she has not seen the city since it was destroyed. She has not seen it since, you know, Gorynel Desse took her mom and her away when she was, like, five, before everything happened.

Aradia: And, like, this is so wrapped up in her trauma around her dad too. Like, in the tunnel. She’s thinking about how, like, My father did this. No, no, no, no, no. It wasn’t my father. It was other people. He was just working for them. Like, she’s going through all that, and now she’s faced with like –

Ali: He was just following orders.

Aradia: Or he was just being used. He was – whatever.

Bree: But yeah, well, she just crawled through one of his big destructive legacies and now she has been dropped into the other one, which was the time that he murdered all of her family and burned her house to the ground.

Ali: She’s deconstructing in the meanest way possible.

Bree: So, yeah, Sarra, Sarra’s – and this is trauma that she cannot mention a goddamn thing to Alin or Val about, because they don’t know who she is.

Aradia: She has to hide it. She has to not even show that she’s traumatized, much less not talk about it.

Ali: So it wasn’t that being unnecessarily cruel because I. I was going to ask like, they don’t know that she’s Sarra?

Bree: Yeah. They don’t know who she is. So. So they just brought her back and she’s just like having a small panic attack, looking out the window at this destroyed home of hers, really hard. Where they ended up going was actually kind of interesting, because it was to a tower built by a previous Captal, who was in a big Romeo and Juliet forbidden lovers, star crossed lovers thing with a Third Lord of the Weavers. So they were like –

Aradia: We love a booty call Ladder.

Bree: They had this little secret Ladder, their booty call Ladder, I guess.

Ali: Wait, wasn’t it, Kate, Caitirin?

Bree: Caitirin, Caitirin Bekke. Cait. Caiti- Caitirin, or Catirin. I wanted to address this because somebody brought it up in the discord, that according to the pronunciation guide in the back, it’s almost certainly supposed to be Cailet (key-let) and not Cailet (ki-let). But my brain will just not change it from Cailet after this many years. I cannot stop saying that as Ki. It is stuck there forever.

Aradia: Yeah, I’m going to just disagree with the pronunciation guide on that one.

Ali: Key-let is giving me Renesmee vibes. I can’t explain more than that. You know what I mean?

Bree: Yeah. So Caitirin Bekke is the Captal of that time, and she was from Brogdenguard, which has this, like, crazy obsidian. And that’s what a lot of this tower was built with. So this is why it’s like so – and that was the Obsidian Circle that was in the Ladder rhyme, and that that’s how Al figured it out. Alin figured it out from that. And I guess their initials were like carved by the Ladder over by the waterfall. So, literal booty call Ladder. And it brings them back home. And Sarra is definitely not enjoying any of this, dealing with the trauma. She’s like, I’m just going to go to bed and definitely not have a trauma dream.

Aradia: It’s not fun, that’s for sure.

Bree: Except for she has an extreme trauma dream. She dreams about Ambrai as it was – all wonderful and beautiful and having parties and all of her family alive. And then somebody gave her grandmother, like a big book. And then her dad grabs the book, and the whole place burst into flame, and then she grabs the book from him and starts to run. And she wakes up and she’s like, Oh my God, the books.

Ali: Okay, made me think, though. Do you think Head Grandma Ambrai is talking to Maichen in the afterlife? And she’s like, I fucking told you, he sucks. Like, I told you not to marry him. I bet that she’s having the best I told you so’s.

Aradia: Definitely. Definitely.

Bree: They’re up there with, uh, Scraller’s mom.

Ali: Yeah, she’s sitting there. She’s waiting for Maichen to arrive. She’s like, Well, well, well. We’re all dead, right? You just had to marry him. But grandma, I loved him! Shut the fuck up.

Bree: Yeah. Oh, that is an afterlife mother daughter relationship I don’t want to get involved with. No, because Meemaw Ambrai definitely was some – I mean, you want to talk about someone who was the epitome of 38 generations, or in her case, 36. No, she may be the 38. 38 generations of frickin privilege, she was. I feel like in most other books, she’d be the one I was saying, eat the rich, overthrow them, let’s rebel about?

Ali: Right. Unfortunately, in this particular instance, she happened to be correct, a very, very big L all of us to be honest. Yeah, because I feel like she’d be the antagonist in literally any other book. Yeah, but like, she’s the big bad we have to defeat because love is real. Well, what have you.

Bree: Well, if Glenin has taught us anything, it’s that you can be mad at multiple fascists at once.

Aradia: True. We can contain multitudes. Is still my fascist enemy.

Bree: The fascist enemy of my fascist enemy is not my friend.

Ali: It’s kind of like with somebody you talk about a problem with somebody and he goes, Well, what about this? Like other random unrelated problem? Are you upset about that as well? And you’re like, Yes, I have the capacity to be upset about both things at once? So yeah, so we’re mad at multiple things.

Bree: Yeah.

Ali: Okay.

Aradia: Proud of us.

Bree: Yes. But we are not mad at the books, and, Aradia, you want to call this the Library of Alexambria?

Aradia: Yeah, We got to get away from Alexambriai? The library, the destruction of the Library of Alexambriai. I don’t.

Ali: I’m dying.

Bree: Yes. Well, here we go. Sarra remembers from this dream, which was either her magic or her instincts or something firing off, that there was a protected basement, that had all these, like, special books in them, because she used to run around playing in them, you know, down there.

Aradia: As one does, as a small child – hanging out with books.

Bree: Yes. And she can’t tell Alin and Val why she remembers this. So she, like, makes up a story about a Mage telling her, something, something. But basically, she insists that they go down and look it in the vaults beneath the Mage Academy and they find all of these protected books.

Ali: I’m going to be real. I would not go down into a basement vault in a haunted mansion if you paid me $1,000,000. I was so expect something terrible to happen to these kids in that vault.

Bree: Oh, not not just like, go down into the vault, but literally, Val is like, I don’t know, stripper polling down the iron part of a burned out spiral staircase that isn’t even attached to the wall anymore.

Ali: Certainly when he was stripper polling down, I’d be like, I’m going to stand up here and wait. You all let me know how it looks down there. You all please shout out.

Bree: Yeah. Val’s an adventurer. So he goes down and the door is warded. But they figure somebody can open it. And thus begins – we have a couple of parts that go to eye pretty quickly, which is just, everybody is bringing books back. They found all sorts of books. Everybody is excited about the books. These are like lost magical tomes, and like preserved things that were burned.

Aradia: None of them cursed. Oddly, despite coming from a haunted city.

Bree: Yes, magically free of ghosts. Maybe the many people murdered there were like, Well, we’ll just let the books be chill, because anyone who likes books is chill.

Aradia: And the books didn’t do anything.

Ali: Another natural 20 and the DM is banging his head against the table. Or her. Or their

Aradia: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s like, you need to change your dice, these dice are not allowed at my table anymore.

Bree: Yeah.

Ali: Yes. These are loaded dice. Thank you very much.

Bree: Dice are just like all – yeah. Alin and Val are just rolling dice that are nothing but 20’s right now.

Ali: It’s wild. It’s unbelievable. And the DM has left the table.

Aradia: Yeah.

Bree: Yeah, but as if to counteract that –

Ali: At least Sarra gets sick!

Bree: At least Sarra gets sick. Sarra gets Ladder lag. Something goes wrong.

Ali: Something’s weird. Maybe that weird Ward that probably was there that made them go behind the waterfall?

Bree: I mean, I feel like something. I don’t know what I think happened. I mean, I’m not even sure – it may be answered, but if it is, I’m forgetting right now, honestly. But like something was weird, right? Because, you know, if they retrace their footsteps, and they must’ve because Val picked a sword up again where he had lost it. But somehow they ended up in a completely different place.

Ali: Odd. I’m asking questions right now. What is happening?

Bree: I’d be asking questions.

Aradia: I mean, they literally mentioned a Ward called Oops, I dropped my sword. They’re like, There’s not going to be anything weak, you know, like, not gonna be any pussy Wards like, Oops, dropped my sword, or whatever. And I thought it was funny because it made me think of, you know, like all the various Captain Crunch, like, oops, all whatevers. And then he drops his sword and then they get confused and it’s like –

Bree: Oh my God, I completely forgot that that was what –

Aradia: We learned in Collan’s section that the clever use of minor magics can be far more effective than big magics.

Ali: So who lives there? Who’s living there right now amongst the corpses? Because somebody is hanging out.

Bree: Yeah. Yep. The subtle – the subtle people. I mean, the Weavers are notoriously, the ones with subtle plans, so.

Aradia: And librarians are subtle people too, because you have to be quiet in libraries.

Ali: What I expected, honestly, was like them to be bopping around doing all of this, like setting off every Ward, because they’re children and silly. And Glenin just sitting there like, watching it all. That’s what I was kind of expecting to happen. And she’s like, I found her!

Aradia: Same!

Bree: She’s like, over there in, like the control room with the CCTVs.

Aradia: Like, yeah, all the one way glass.

Ali: Yeah, exactly. I was expecting them to be like, I found her. You know what I mean? Like, I was very stressed by that. Well, I just assume Glenin is looking for Sarra.

Aradia: Yeah.

Bree: Well, or be like, Who the fuck are these motherfuckers?

Aradia: Yeah, I totally assume that there’s, like, passive watching Wards that just get pinged so that way people know to check in when someone walks through. Like, it’s not going to be a blocking Ward to keep them from – it’s gonna be a, Please walk in. Tell us your plans.

Ali: You know, speak into the mic a little louder. Yeah.

Bree: It was definitely a mistake. Mistakes were made here.

Ali:I think Glenin is going to be like, We found her. We know where she is. Because I’m just assuming that she’s deduced that if – Glenin has magic. Sarra probably does, too, which is why they wouldn’t let him take both of them. Well, for like a million reasons. But I think she’s on to it. I think she’s looking for her sister. I would.

Bree: That’ll be interesting. Oh, dangerous. Well, especially considering where we, like, you know, leave her, which, we’ll get there. Let’s get through the books quick first. So basically they spend the next few days bringing the books back and they figure out that they’re going to split the party. And Imi and her little new cute kneed boyfriend are going to pretend to be fake married and take the books to safety.

Aradia: So sneaky.

Ali: I love fake married.

Bree: Sarra’s doing a little shipping there. She’s doing a little romantic love match. And so they’re going to split the party. Oh, and I do want to mention that there’s like, there’s a point where they’re reading some of the Ladder song, and I’m sure that Ali skimmed by it, but there’s a whole –

Ali: Oh, call me out! But I did!

Bree: Whole big, like, mystery! I promised the discord that there was a math mystery to come.

Aradia: So here I saw the math and was like, I’m checking out with Ali. Me and Ali are going to go have some crackers and like, hang out.

Ali: I saw the song. I was like, No.

Aradia: Math in my poetry. No, no, no, nah.

Bree: This is for the discord: Twice twenty-two. Mage, can you guess? Conundrum numbers; think them through To sum them in a total true: Six times fifteen, twice twenty-two — Halve the greatest. Yeah. You guys. Are you going to break it down? I cannot wait. I am looking forward to it so much. Ali and Aradia are counting on you.

Aradia: We need you, dear audience, save us.

Ali: Okay. So it’s – they do the math for us, I think, right? They said 44 –

Bree: They do do the math. They say that there’s 44 Ladder pairs with one pair lost.

Ali: See, I got to that without reading a single song.

Bree: And then they say, the broken circle. And I would like to disclaim that this is not where I got the broken circle, my discord, from.

Aradia: I was going to ask. Okay, okay.

Bree: No, no, Donna actually came up with that. It’s from something else. It’s also not from the Dragon Age quest, which we get asked a lot, too. Yeah, but there’s lots of magical poetry and stuff in these books. And then basically, Ali, did you do a victory lap? Have you forgotten, something happened in this chapter that you were extremely, extremely waiting for?

Ali: Oh, is it Mai?

Aradia: Yeah, I saw that! Yeah, victory laps for Ali. Air horns. Confetti.

Bree: Yeah. You knew. You knew one of these cousins was going to be important. So it turns out that, while Sarra has been laddering all over the place, there’s been a double on the boat pretending to be her. And it’s Mai Alvassy!

Ali: Her fucking cousin. I knew it! I knew those girls were still alive. I was like, They’re going to be important. They have to be. There’s something important going on.

Aradia: But this is just the one of them, though, right? There was two that went missing. And this is just one of them being accounted for.

Ali: I’m assuming they took both at once.

Bree: So here’s the crazy part. Yeah, there are two of them went missing, but we know the one is there, and we find out that where she lives, which is like in Domburronshir or something. So pretty remotely.

Ali: She was not excited enough about this for me, but that was, I think, because I was so freaking pumped about it. I was like, Oh, oh, I did it, I do it. I was so proud. But I’m assuming they were like a two for one sale, and they grabbed them both.

Bree: Yeah, I’m assuming. Yeah. There’s this one point where she tries to like, think of, like, all the ways they’re related, and then we have the family tree in the discord, but like, yeah. Sarra’s the grandmother’s brother – I think that, like, that’s how they’re related. Like, I don’t remember. It’s so complicated. Their cousin was Gerrin’s grandfather. Yeah. And then she says, See, this is me trying to parse this again. She says, Sweet Saints, no wonder the patron of genealogists is Tamas the Mapmaker!

Aradia: Yeah, Yeah. Too complicated.

Bree: Too complicated family tree. But they’re cousins. But nobody knows they’re cousins. Everyone’s like, Gosh, I wonder why you guys look so much alike. And Sarra’s like, I don’t know. I have a stuffy nose. Can’t talk. Bye. So, yes, that’s all we know about her. But she has wandered by in passing. Do you think she’s going to come back?

Aradia: Has to.

Ali: Definitely. If she doesn’t, I’m going to be mad because I did not just find her again for her to not come back. I did not just have a mystery somewhat solved. Not really. Not all the way. But we’re going to finish solving that mystery. If it’s not Gorynel Desse, then I don’t know what’s going on. Like, somehow he’s involved.

Bree: You know, somebody got her out, and presumably her sister. So, yeah, they’re in Domburronshir, and Sarra thinks, Enis Dombur was Tama’s grandfather. His dower would’ve gone to her mother, and now to Mai. So, yeah, Sarra’s on the boat. The boat is owned by her foster mother, and it’s piloted or captained by Agata, who is a woman who Orlin Renne bought as a slave and freed when she was like 18. And then she became the captain of this boat and, like, basically is the flagship of this legion.

Ali: She’s very cool.

Bree: She is pretty cool. So she basically hangs out with Sarra while Sarra takes lots of meds. She just loads up on Sudafed for most of this trip.

Ali: And I was getting FOMO of all the stuff that Alin and Val were doing while she was like, I’m sick. I don’t feel well. I was like, No, get out of bed. But self-care!

Aradia: There’s information to learn.

Ali: Yeah, exactly. You can rest when you’re dead. Go!

Bree: No, but she did. She basically – the only other I think big important thing is that the Captal, the current Captal, is on the boat with them now. And the Captal, as we know, is the leader of the Mage Guardians, though nobody seems to think much of this one. They call him a whiner and ineffective and doddering. And pretty much everyone seems to just hate him.

Ali: Unkind.

Bree: But it is reiterated several times that for some reason they all have to protect him, because the Captal knows some magic stuff that nobody else knows. So do you have any theories about that? What the captain might know that is like so – or what could possibly be the reason that you’ve got to protect this dude, even if you all hate him?

Aradia: I feel like the Captal is going to know some history, just by virtue of having that position. They’re going to know some, like true and unedited histories, like about how these various power things work. And maybe there’s some authenticity to be like, No, you’re the only person who’s read the books from the 13th Depository, we need you alive, kind of thing.

Ali: Hmm. I feel like it could be – it’s gotta be something big, right? And I’m thinking up the Ladders, is it something to do with the Ladders? Can he make Ladders, but then they say that that’s not something that people can do anymore?

Bree: Well, we have said that they can’t do it, but we did just have them pop through a booty call Ladder that somebody, a Captal, made after the Waste War, so.

Ali: So I’m going with, They can make Ladders for 500.

Bree: Okay. Okay. Well, we’ll lock those in, but we don’t find out anymore. Except for that Sarra is on the boat and they’re pulling into Ryka Island, which is where the capital is, Ryka Court. And she knows that she might be face to face with her sister and her father soon. She is told that they won’t recognize her.

Ali: I don’t believe it.

Bree: That Wards mean that she won’t be recognized. First, though, we do find out that Elomar, the tall older one, attended her birth, and that Sarra has a little birthmark right between her breasts, a little rose one, which apparently was not disfiguring. But cute, I guess. But he warns her not to wear any dresses that show it, off because that might –

Ali: Okay.

Bree: Might make people remember. So I guess that’s – we don’t really know how Wards are forgetting. I mean, I feel like that’s the problem. You can say you’re warded against remembering, but what happened the first time Cailet and Sarra laid eyes on each other?

Ali: Exactly. I’m saying I do not believe that they will not recognize her. She also looks a lot like her mother.

Bree: So I have heard. Yes. I think Lilen says that pretty explicitly when they meet. In Sarra’s like, backstory thing. She looks just like her mother.

Ali: Well, I’m pretty sure she said it in this chapter, too. It’s like, everyone says, I look just like my mother. And she has her eyes, her like, very distinct, dark eyes. Right? Doesn’t she have like, eyes that are almost black? Yeah. Protagonist eyes.

Bree: Yeah, she has black eyes. And that her mother infamously had, because bard Falundir wrote about them when she was 15 because they were so pretty.

Ali: Creepy. But, whatever.

Bree: So we did have that discussion on Discord about whether or not that was a romantic thing. I never read it as that, because I have always read him as like, dude who is so married to his work, he does not care about anything but his art. And so he’s just like writing stories about the pretty mountains and the pretty girl eyes and the pretty buildings and the pretty city and then the pretty city one gets him in trouble finally. So. But yeah, that is pretty much where we end, with Sarra facing Ryka Court. But once again, all she’s thinking about is going to the Waste and getting her baby sister, because that’s all Sarra cares about.

Aradia: There is one more thing I noticed in there that I wanted to just bring up, which was that Sarra learns that Auvry and Anniyas’ association goes back much longer than her parents’ marriage. Like, she kind of, you know, stumbles around the information, she’s like, I just thought that they knew each other after he married Maichen, and turns out, no, they knew each other before, which I think puts massive amounts of scaffolding onto the theory that he married for long term political ambitions and just, you know, did the pretty boy method on the princess.

Ali: And I was. Smug. I was smug.

Aradia: Smug goat.

Bree: Yes. I completely forgot that, even though it’s in my notes here. Oh, so basically, there was – the grand duchess was trying to do this big thing where she, like, tried to take over everything and become queen of the world. And we find out that the way that Anniyas, uh, Punch Card Lady, was able to defeat – she did two things on that day. She defeated that person single handedly and also did some army thing. And the reason she was able to do both of them was because Gorynel Desse had Auvry take her through a Ladder. So basically, Gornyel Desse was in charge of doing that, because what it says in there is that there was a Mage who was helping the Grand Duchess. And because Gorynel Desse was one of the – was First Sword, which we find out, we’re just assuming is some title – it was his responsibility to punish her. So he sent Auvry through the Ladder with Anniyas to go do this stuff. So yeah, Auvry and Anniyas knew each other and somebody has done a timeline, where they I think they have put the Grand Duchess stuff on, so we can look in the discord.

Ali: Shady. Very shady.

Bree: They knew each other for quite a bit before the meeting.

Ali: I knew it. I knew he didn’t love her. I knew it.

Aradia: I was like, Ali, you’re too suspicious. And no. Yeah. Now Ali’s giving the most smug, mischievous grin because she fucking earned it, gang.

Bree: If you guys could see Ali’s grin.

Ali: Little dance.

Bree: Yeah. So they’re definitely, definitely – suspicious stuff going on there.

Ali: Very suspicious. And I feel like we’re going to get even more answers potentially soon.

1:16:00 Wrap up

Bree: Yeah. Because then we’re starting the next chapter for next week, guys, since we’re rolling on towards our end here next week, we’re going back into Glenin’s point of view, in the Betrayals section!

Ali: I am nervous.

Bree: And we’re going to be reading the Betrayals part, which is in part two, and we’re going to be reading sections one through five, which is roughly pages 289 through 314. So we’re going to get our favorite our favorite Girlboss Gatekeep Genocide? I was like, Where is it?

Aradia: I guess Gaslight Gatekeep Girlboss Genocide. That’s the Queers of Time Quartet.

Ali: Gus recently told me the male version of it, and now I can’t remember what it is. It’s like there’s no way to – like Manscape, Manwhore and something?

Aradia: Mansplain?

Ali: Mansplain, Manwhore, and something.

Aradia: I like putting Manscape in that lineup.

Ali: And Manscape your way through a situation!

Aradia: That’s horrific and delightful all at the same time.

Ali: I was dying, and he just casually said it.

Bree: Wonderful.

Ali: Yeah. He’s like, who among us hasn’t wiped a child’s brain.

Bree: Possibly what Gorynel Desse has been doing this whole time.

Ali: Well, you know what? Have him like, you know, bathe in the whatever, altogether, and we’ll find out.

Bree: He does seem mansplain-y. He does seem manwhore-y. And I don’t know if he’s manscaping, but?

Aradia: Another thing I noticed right at the end was, we’ve got some, the same kind of lying through truth telling as Wheel of Time Aes Sedai, with the –

Bree: Oh, where she thinks about how Lilen said, My only Mageborn daughter?

Aradia: Because Sarra’s thinking she’d been innocent for all this time and saying what she meant without actually saying it. Telling the truth without telling all of it, then yeah, my only Mageborn daughter from Lady Lilen. And I’m like, that is the Aes Sedai Wheel of Time thing! You know, I’m trying really hard to make sure that I keep my Wheel of Time references to like book one, so that way I can’t possibly spoil Ali or anyone else who’s listening to this. But like, that is some book one lore. And like, I’m just like, that is almost word for word how you would explain it in a Wheel of Time setting. And it’s just – I mean, it’s a good way to live your life, honestly. Like I can’t keep track of lies. I am way too spacey to, like, maintain fictions. So if I am scrupulously truthful, I don’t actually have to keep track of anything other than real life, which is admittedly difficult. But like, you know, I like this way of thinking, because it keeps you honest to yourself and maybe helps you remember shit, because you’re like, No, no, it was – it didn’t have to be true specifically, very specifically.

Ali: I mean, to tell you a truth, but I am going to tell you my version of the truth.

Aradia: Yeah, Yeah.

Ali: There you go.

Aradia: Maybe that’s why we are the way we are, because it’s the nineties, and Wheel of Time and Ruins of Ambrai are all putting these things out there for us to pick up.

Ali: And here’s my thing. Aren’t we all just always experiencing our version of the truth?

Aradia: Isn’t there a German word for that? But yes, very definitely. The John Lennon, John Lennon gift for sure.

Bree: So yes. Do your reading for next week. Yo, we are looking forward to it. And Ali, you want to take us out?

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

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