READALONG: Two Serpents Rise, by Max Gladstone: Week 4

Well, we’re at the final week for the readalong. It was fun, I have to say. I enjoyed the question-and-answer posts, I enjoyed reading what other people thought about the book, and I enjoyed knowing I finally read a book that I really should have read long ago. Readalongs are great for kicking my butt into gear for things like that.

It’s time now to look at the last batch of questions, this time provided by Lynn from Little Lion Lynnet’s.

1. I think we all pegged Mal for involved with whatever is going wrong in Dresediel Lex after the way Book 3 ended last week. How do you feel about discovering how deep that involvement goes?

Yeah. It’s funny that for much of the book I discounted her, because she was too obvious a suspect. In all the right places at all the right times, so it couldn’t possibly actually be her, because if she was behind it things would actually be less obvious. Sometimes knowing the tropes can be really misleading. I wonder if that was what Gladstone was actually attempting to do, to mislead readers who knew the tropes and would discount the obvious suspect because in mysteries, it’s never the obvious suspect.

But yeah, after the ending of Book 3, things got a lot more blatant.

As for my thoughts on how deep it went, I found that fascinating. As it got clearer that she did have deep religious beliefs and held to the old ways, it became less surprising that she’d go as far as she did. I’m actually a bit impressed that she had the courage to take it so far, given what was at stake if she failed, but I guess that’s what faith and sacrifice are all about, in the end.

2. Caleb and Temoc have to work together to save Dresediel Lex (and the world) from certain destruction. Do you think they make a good team?

They make an… interesting team. Let’s put it that way. Both of them are the kind of people who want to do things their way at any cost, which makes them awkward partners. While they both have that kind of mentality, they will get things done, but if anything should happen where their methods differ (such as, well, when their methods differed in how to stop the rampaging Serpents), they’ll act against each other and waste time.

Spoilers: I honestly expected that Caleb would end up too late to save Teo and that Temoc’s sacrifice of her would be what eventually quelled the Serpents. Thus leading to Caleb having to come to grips with the notion that religion has power and that some objective good can come from sacrifice even if it’s subjectively very bad.

So assuming their goals and methods align perfectly, then yes, they make a fantastic team. Otherwise, I’d say there are better partners.

3. What do you think of the narrative’s overall treatment of Teo? Especially in light of her role in the finale?

I’m not entirely sure what the word is for what I feel, to be truthful. On one hand, it skirts dangerously close to ideas that women shoulsd sacrifice themselves for the benefit of men, as well as brushing by the notion that women are generally useless. Teo found herself in both positions. She was about to be sacrificed, but was saved and then that setup pretty much came to nothing. She was a side character, and she had some development but not very much, given that she wasn’t central to the plot.

On the other hand, from a logistical standpoint, not every female character can get thrust into the spotlight and save the world when everyone’s backed into a corner. Nor did I expect that to happen.

I don’t really know what to feel about Teo in a lot of ways, and I know some of that is very personal because she reminds me a lot of a friend of mine. So, weirdly, I’ve attached to her various attributes and characteristics that she doesn’t actually have, just because said friend does have them. It makes it very difficult for me to pin her character down in an objective way.

4. In the epilogue Caleb seems to have found a way to compromise between the ways of his father and the new world brought about by the God Wars. Do you think he’ll succeed in his goals?

I’m not sure he’ll succeed, but I’m damn curious to find out how it goes! He’ll have a lot of opposition from multiple sides, and it’ll be an incredibly hard road, as walking the middle ground often is. But I’m fascinated by that decision, and I’d love to know how it all plays out.

I know, I know, that’s not a very satisfying answer, but when it comes to awesome books, I’m usually far more interested in the journey than the destination.

4 comments on “READALONG: Two Serpents Rise, by Max Gladstone: Week 4

  1. I’d really like to think that Gladstone wrote it (and “Three Parts Dead”) that way on purpose, to play with the tropes. He’s clearly a talented and skillful author.

    Nuuuu. That’s a perfectly satisfying answer. I’d love to read more about Caleb setting up his not-concern and how that affects the world. Hopefully we’ll get to see some of that in later books even if it doesn’t turn out to be the focus.

  2. For a while there, I thought Temoc and Caleb would sacrifice the heart of Quet, since it was just kicking around anyway and that seems like a great offering. Definitely rare. But then they didn’t take the heart and I thought perhaps Caleb or Temoc wold end up being sacrificed. Nope! Then Teo ends up on the altar and again, I thought Caleb would be too late to save her and then one of two things would happen: Caleb would accept it and have to face his views on religion, etc.; or 2) Caleb would kill Temoc, making it a double sacrifice and the serpents would sleep twice as long.

    And then Caleb would spend 5 years in therapy.

    As it is, I hope his insurance at RKC covers his year of therapy from Mal’s betrayal and death and Temoc’s betrayal and escape.

  3. Pingback: May in Retrospect | Bibliotropic

  4. Pingback: Two Serpents Rise Readalong Week 4 • Little Lion Lynnet's

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