I love Ashling. It's the book where we first meet Swallow *sigh*. In all seriousness though, I really enjoy reading this one. We learn a lot more about the beforetime and get some more of Elspeth's history. But yeah...Swallow
about to start!
I just read The Stand by Stephen King and I think I am going to find more apocalyptic fictions. It's really interesting to me how differently different authors imagine it. The stand is set during/after a massive plague wipes out 99% of america, and follows what happens after. I think the time is very different, obviously Obernewtyn is set a LOT further in the future, and a lot of time has passed since the great white.
Comparing them did make me think that the Land must be in a really rural area of what country it was origionally. a big part of The Stand was that it was hard to use the roads because there were cars and traffic jams EVERYWHERE as people had attempted to outrun the plague and either got sick and died on the roads or were stuck behind other cars.
I wonder how much The Stand will affect my mindset as I read Ashling tonight.
I love Ashling because of Swallow too but if I also recall isn't it the "ravek" bit! Makes me squee! I'm about half way through where Elf has met Swallow and is trying to return the gypsy girl.
I love how action packed this book is! Adventuring and of course Rushton! Swallow!
I've action packed the past two weeks with rereading this awesome as series with finishing Ashling yesterday. Usually I avoid reading this one because it devastates me every time Matthew is taken away, and the battlegames are just so incredibly intense. Yet it struck me anew just how good this book is, and I love the meeting between Elf and Swallow (Part of me secretly wishes that they ended up together though I know this probably could never be). I also love Elspeth's struggle as she comes to grips with her love for Rushton. I am such a huge fan for Rushton that I honestly have been blind to the fact that Dameon is in love with Elspeth. I agree with you Kella about how Dameon stays in Sador because he loves Elspeth and knows that Rushton has her love instead. It wasn't until this read through that I saw it too. Also with the soldier guard being the evil adviser to the Red Queen is quite perceptive. I can see how that could be.
I honestly struggle with the idea that Matthew or Rushton is the destroyer but if either of them turn out to be him then my heart shall surely break. We shall see soon enough though. Until then, Happy Reading!
I don't know about the soldierguard being the evil advisor. Since we find out about the carving of the red queen later, I assume that the soldierguard captain (can we call him SC?) as someone wrapped up in the slave trade has seen the carving and recognises the likeness. I don't think we've seen any other red-heads, so it's probably not a difficult likeness to spot.
I am up to the arrival in Sador. The person in the earthtemple queue had a fit and asked if Elspeth brought the nightwatcher or moonwatcher with her.
I like that re-reading means I'm picking up more foreshadowing. of course the temple workers would have perked their ears up at half of the prophesy. Maybe that particular worker is the same Kasanda she meets later.
I don't like that Galtha seems to have been ditched in Sutrium. Anyone else notice that? they all get on the boat except Domick, and the safehouse is shut up. nobody deals with the horses. Are they just released to make their own way home?
That's also a good point about the SC being involved in the slave trade and seeing the carving, therefore recognizing Dragon. I guess I had never really thought about it before but there must be some significance as to why he is emphasized in the book.
I had the same thought about the horses and for some reason I had always thought they had gone on this trip until I reread it (I was probably remembering their later trip to Sador). I imagine that Elspeth and Co. would have travelled back to Sutrium by ship and then picked up the Horses on the way home over land but I don't know. It would have been a long time for the horses to be by themselves at the safe house so maybe they did just get released.
Yes, I had assumed they went along, but was remembering the later trip. When they were saying 13 would go I was like yeah, include Galtha!
pretty sure we had only one or two glimpses of dragon in dream form, and a few times Elspeth has slipped into pockets of dragon's memory/nightmare without realising.
Finished ashling last night. Moving on to the keeping place tonight. Right? Yeah, pretty sure.
Yeah, I'm pretty sure this is the book that really got me hooked on the series. I liked Obernewtyn and I felt Farseekers was definitely an improvement upon it, but this was the one that really got me involved with the characters. Now I definitely cared what happened to them--and was of course, equally as devastated when Matthew went missing too.
And I had completely forgotten about that Soldier Guard guy. I think there are huge theories threads around here involving him,
I am starting a keeping place thread
Can i just say something a little controversial (to domick fans)? Domick is a douche. Yeah, yeah, he's torn up about being "Domick Bond" and "not" torturing people, but did anyone else miss the (implied) fact that he spends enough time with (ahem) paid lady companions that it is commonplace to his acquaintances (for reference, I mean the scene where he takes elspeth to the bar)? And yet it's the "not" torturing that is tearing he and kella apart?
Yes, you can argue that we don't know, but when he spends so much time away from kella, and admits that he has to keep up appearances to the council ... well, it speaks for itself.
I suppose I'm annoyed because as I read the book, i felt that the reader was being invited to be frustrated with kella. There's sympathy for her, but her grievance is buried under the sympathy towards "the noble man who must do dreadful things for the greater good".
This is just a gut reaction as i read. You may love Domick and disagree with me. And Domick does later have his 11th hour redemption. But right now, I think he is a douche.
This is one of the reasons I like Domick, though. He's not "good" or "evil"; he lives in the grey zone between the two. Very few characters in the series fit this description. I agree that he's a douche in the way he treats Kella, no question. But I keep thinking of the bit where Brydda (I think) points out to Elspeth that Domick can't be blamed for being so good at the task assigned to him by Rushton. It's also fairly clear Guildmerge were naive in how they imagined Domick would operate and the way in which this would change him.
See, but I get annoyed at that "don't blame him for being good at his job" attitude. It gives him a free pass to escape his choices. Kella was one of those choices, i see his actions here as essentially unchoosing her without taking responsibility. He had other choices. He could choose to leave his role, especially as his loyalty coming into question has eroded his effectiveness from obernewtyn's point of view.
I suppose I am just really annoyed at the "Kella, just go home and let him do his important job" attitude. Kella is also traumatised, being a healer left essentially alone on the front lines of the plague, and yet what she wants is overborne by everyone catering to domick's demands.
It's just such an inequity that I am frustrated. Domick gets a free pass for his dick choices, and kella gets put in the corner after suffering from his dick choices. So I'm not liking domick right now.
Hmm, you guys know I'm a huge Domick supporter, but I agree with what you're saying Nef...it's like saying, don't blame the Nazis for doing their job. They still need to be accountable for their actions and they still had options. Poor Kella :(
I'm with you Nef (and clearly I like Kella...) It always seemed to me that we were supposed to think Kella was kind of a wuss and that Domick was really tough, whereas in reality it is kind of the other way around. I know he was brave to stay where he would have been in huge trouble if his powers or true identity were discovered, but he was also cowardly to not end up standing up for what he used to believe in. However, I think part of the problem was that even then, his Mika personality was starting to take over his thoughts and actions and poisoning him, so perhaps what I'm really saying is that Mika is a massive douche and Domick got pulled into that...which is psychologically very scary.
Yes! All of this. It's a tough situation for both parties, but I definitely feel Kella got thrown under the bus so to speak. She was there, trying to support Dom in everything he was doing, in the best way she could, but she had no one to actually support /her/--which I think is a narrative a lot of women can relate too unfortunately. As women were expected to do a lot of emotional labour and the effects that actually has on people are often pushed aside and forgotten.
So Domick gets all the pity and glory for his actions, even though they both made some pretty bad decisions and acted in ways that ultimately destroyed them both--because Kella is a very different person than she was too (even if it is in a more positive and less dramatic way for Kella).
Edit: (which makes me extra annoyed at Elf in the latest books for her reaction to /things/)
I did feel really bad for Kella when she was all alone in the safehouse. Really, though, she should have written to Rushton when she was spending a lot of her time by herself to ask for help.
in reply to the edit of the comment above:
I got peeved at elf being angry at kella more because at the end of the book before that she KNEW Kella had left the town(sutrium?) she was in before Iriny or whoever had gotten back with the news about Domick. Continuity error, I think.
I'm afraid it's been a while since I've had a good literary debate, so excuse my rambling :P
Just so that it's clear in my own head as well as in this discussion, I'm going to distinguish between the attitude towards Domick's treatment of Kella in the text (i.e. by Elspeth and others), and the broader discussion of who is to (directly and indirectly) blame for Domick's mental condition and his treatment of Kella as a result of this.
Firstly, I agree with Nef (if that wasn't clear) that Domick isn't held accountable for his actions in the text, and that he receives a free pass for the way in which he abuses Kella from the way the story is told. Her health and happiness are portrayed as secondary to Domick's infiltration mission. Having said that, I always read her as an abused partner in Ashling, so maybe I'm missing the part of the text where we're supposed to see her as making too much of it all. And of course, it is Domick who abuses Kella, there's no getting around that. However, I would go beyond that, and ask how and why he was allowed to reach this point.
The reason why I don't assign all the blame for Kella's misery to Domick is because I feel the context of the situation also leaves Rushton (and Guildmerge, to a lesser extent) open to a lot of blame. Domick's ability to make morally sound decisions after a while (certainly by the time we see him in Ashling) is severely compromised due to what I would describe as psychological trauma from his work. Rushton is effectively Domick's handler, to use the jargon, so he is supposed to have some duty of care here, even if he is some distance away.
When Rushton sends Domick and Kella to Sutrium, he is sending a young couple with no experience of spying into what is effectively the most dangerous city in the Land. Isn't this a bit unfair (not to mention foolish)? Wouldn't it be more logical to send a single, older, unbonded person in after a period of intensive training? It is safe to assume that Domick and Kella are no more than 18 years old at this point, probably younger. Despite Domick's enthusiasm, I doubt he knows what he is getting himself into, and of course he looks up to Rushton and is excited to be assigned this special task.
Domick will not be able to tell Kella much about the true nature of his work, because it is safer for everyone that she remains disconnected from this in the event of capture -- standard procedure in this situation, I would think. But already, this is where their relationship is heading for shaky territory, because who could live with someone whom they know is pretending to be someone very different most of the time?
My question (which the text doesn't answer, if I recall) is whether Rushton set up any rules with Domick, or if it was a case of "infiltrate Council and tell us what you find out, yeah?" For example, how long is the mission supposed to last? Who is watching Domick to make sure he isn't corrupted, scarred or otherwise twisted by his experience? Did Rushton ever say to Domick "look, if they make you do X, Y or Z, you should stop, and we'll get you out of there"? Was there ever an exit strategy at all? Being a double-agent is a severe mental challenge which inevitably wears down even the strongest, and there is little evidence that Domick is particularly suited for the job, despite being the Coercer Ward. It seems to me that the assumption behind this is that Kella, as healer and bondmate, will take care of all these problems. Given that she cannot be seen a neutral party, this is another way in which she is abused. As for the rebels, I suspect they are particularly useless in all this because they are used to infiltration and the way in which it changes people, and have probably been desensitised to it (this includes Brydda).
In terms of Domick's choices, I can see how his moral compass would begin to waver, especially given that the people who understand him most are arguably the rebels. Much as I love the character of Brydda, I have little doubt that he would kill innocent people if necessary to protect his people from exposure. It follows that Domick would eventually fall into this line of thinking. If he has to torture people in order to keep his place at Councilcourt and continue protecting Obernewtyn, why would he not do this? What I mean when I referred to Brydda's talk of Domick being blamed for doing his job, is that Brydda is effectively saying: "infiltrating Council to this level requires him to become as nasty as those he is working with. You wanted him to do this, and he has. Why are you now so shocked?" This doesn't excuse or justify Domick's actions, but it certainly gives a few good reasons for his behaviour.
I think looking at it from that angle really shows the naivete of Rushton and the rest of the guildmerge. From what I understand it was "let's get someone into the council to see what they know." and that was about as far as the plan went. The safehouse plan was similar, except that they relied on Brydda to find them a suitable location and then protect and provide for them.
There was definitely some planning that we didn't see, such as getting the pigeons down there to send back. Mind you, if Isobelle elaborated on everything we'd have much longer, more boring books.
The never really discussed the effect on Domick, either. Elspeth thinks about it a lot, but she doesn't really talk much to the others about it.
I agree with Special-Me that it really does show just how naive everyone really was about this whole thing, I think they just sent Domick down to infiltrate the Council, without thinking of the consequences. It also shows when they take so long to do anything about it. Plus there's the interesting point (brought up in the Farseekers thread) about their ages, like Domick is still little more than a kid really, and he's been given a demanding job.
Obviously his choices are his own, but they come with the requirement of doing his job, he shouldn't be excused for his actions, but the nature of the job I think would inherently lead people down his path. A spy is a hard game to play, and it's no wonder he ends up with Mika/Domick, and I think Mika was more in control a lot more of the time and a lot sooner.
My own thoughts on my reread:
Totally had no idea that we already saw Dragon's story here, at least in overview. So much foreshadowing! Then there was Elspeth's thought of Domick in a councilcourt cell, covered in sores and filth - more futuretelling
Despite knowing where the story is leading, I forever have some hope that Matthew isn't taken away, and that Dragon isn't knocked out, or that they win the Battlegames, silly, but always happens
That soldierguard I'm really intrigued more about - I don't think it'd be the evil adviser person, because surely he would have done a lot more when he recognised her, I know there wasn't more time, but I think he'd have a more severe reaction to her being alive. And I doubt that he'd leave TRQL since he's in charge/near power/whatever it is
Who/what was the Agyllian (page 241 new edition) that carried Elspeth in the dreamtrails? It was pure white saying 'things bear their spirit shape on the dreamtrails', was it Atthis in her different form? Elspeth couldn't pick the voice.
Domick's love of Elspeth does shine through a bit more - especially how he builds the blocks between them.
Same, Daniel. Every time I read it, I will for Matthew not to be taken.
Knowing what was coming for Jik was sad in Farseekers, but knowing what is coming for Matthew (they're meeting with the slave master now)...and the build up prior to it...it's excruciating to go through again. No no no no no, NO, Matthew, you cannot go with the slavers. Get back to Obernewtyn.
I'm half way through Ashling, and reading the Random House edition instead of my old 1st edition (been making good time, since I'm waiting on some client feedback so don't have to work every time the tiny one goes down for a nap). There's a couple of things I want to note down for later:
- The Emma/other guy passage that Elspeth sees while pulling Iriny away from the mindstream no longer mentions Ines.
- I also really want to know who the enormous white bird is in the dream sequence. Also in this sequence, she's with Ariel and the burning doors of Obernewtyn, and tells him that she burned them to hide the map (why did we never consider this to be important before!! She's telling him where Marisa's map was!). My guess is that it's Atthis on the dreamtrails, but I'm not so sure. It might be Swallow. It might be Dameon, though I don't know where that idea comes from to be honest.
- I know that we kind of established that Domick is being a git above, but I don't know - I still can't help but feel for him. He's in a crappy situation, working a crappy job with crappy people in a crappy city, facing a dangerous reality while the rest of his people bandy about like children, safe with their idealisms. He knows that it's dangerous, but he knows just how important it is that he remain, to Obernewtyn and to the rebels. It would be frustrating, depressing, and make anybody jaded. He's responsible for his actions, but he's really not got all that many choices.
- I can't believe that despite Swallow telling Elspeth that he'd be there when she spoke the words of the ancient promises, in the place where they were first spoken, we still for so long believed that Elspeth would make her journey alone (or, only with Maruman and Gahltha).
Swallow's true name - it was what the Herders were trying to get out of Iriny, and why Caldeko was tortured. Isobelle's said in the past that Swallow's true name is important. I'm gathering it will be part of the ancient words/promises, which means that his name will likely be part of a password to gain entry into the Sentinal. And I'm betting his true name is Evander Duprey. I'm betting that every first son of the Twentyfamlies is named Evander, at Cassy's request.
Anyway - why would his name be important to the Herders, unless they - or Ariel - had located the prompt in the Sentinal's defence system, asking for his name? Why would they even care, otherwise? Knowledge of his name wouldn't destroy the pact the Twentyfamilies have with the Council.
Gah, I'm going to go start a thread about this in Theories...
It would be awesome if that's his name, I love that theory.
I don't remember a white bird at all! I need to double check.
Min (bit off topic) Do you have a new baby? We need more social chat threads, lol.
I do, Special-Me. Well, "new" as in he's 9 months old today. Life's been crazy and relentless and I've not gotten much sleep, but he's very cute, clever and funny...(Sorry for the OT, everyone else).
The identity of the white bird wasn't revealed by the end of Ashling...it must have been Atthis, right? Elspeth even thinks it's Atthis before she realises it's too large and pure white (and she tends to notice who dream trail forms are before noticing what they look like...right?).
Agree that the Dameon thing was obvious, but, it might also because we knew to look closely for it. What I don't understand is how Rushton seems to know of Dameon's love for Elspeth but nobody else does. Kella makes a number of comments about Rush to Elspeth. Dameon clearly shields his affections from everybody, so how does Rushton know? Have the two talked about it (unlikely)? That would have been the most awkward conversation.
I don't think there's any conspiracy about Rushton's talent surrounding it, I'm just interested in the dynamic between Rush and Dameon. They're BFFs and yet...clearly not (memories of The Glare in The Sending come to mind).
Interesting theory about Swallow's real name, I had neglected that they actually wanted it, for me I just thought that it was more that they were going to find him and accuse him of breaking the pact thing. It being Evander, I dunno, it makes perfect sense and it would continue on, but like how is it important? Cause if it's just a name, Elspeth certainly learns of Cassy's son's name anyway, so she knows that name already (well later she does). Unless Swallow needs to say his real name to the machine, but then that doesn't really fit cause then his voice wouldn't match anyway, unless it's an accidental password which isn't voice coded, they just need to state their name?
I think the bird must have been Atthis
I think Rushton has known Dameon for a long time, so has just been able to pick it up, partially perhaps from jealousy?