Riverside Read-along: Swordspoint #4

Book Cover: SwordspointIt’s the penultimate week of the Swordspoint read-along, and that kitten appears to have become a cat already. Other characters too are making giant leaps, some of them in inadvisable directions. It’s getting messy.

Things We Have Learnt This Week

Ferris really is a horrible piece of work. Well, we knew that already. But he is, you know. It’s remarkably unclear what Diane’s up to though – Ferris may like to think he has her measure, but I particularly enjoyed the confirmation that she’s playing, not being played. To be fair, I also liked that his response was to go home, put his pyjamas on and read a book for the rest of the day. It just goes to show that even horrible pieces of work can have good taste.

Alec is utterly messed up. Yes, okay, we already knew that too. But Katherine’s assessment of him as a man looking to be harmed, and who will be disappointed that Richard won’t do it seems about right. For what it’s worth, I don’t think Horn raped Alec (having reread the scene); I read Alec’s bout with Delight as born of the fear that Horn may have joined the dots and figured out who he is. Alec’s just a little too pleased when Horn is silenced (there’s a euphemism for you), and I don’t think he’s worried about the finer points of Richard’s honour. Also, that scene with Richard gave me the heebie-jeebies. Somebody get Alec some help, not just iced cakes.

(I can’t comment on who it seems Alec is, as I don’t know what it means yet. But judging from the reactions of my fellow readers, there’s a big kick to be had out of reading Tremontaine before Swordspoint)

Richard St Vier is a cold-blooded murderer. Whatever we may think of Lord Horn, that was just horrible.This does not reflect well on you, Richard (nor does your behaviour in taverns. Just because you can cut a man up doesn’t mean you get to be rude). Two thoughts, though: how did the household swordsmen not hear anything?  Secondly: how is this anything but murder? …which takes us neatly to the final chapter of the week, the set-up for our final week’s read and the currently-beating heart of the City’s unequal political and legal system.

Lord Horn was actually a Council Lord. That somehow escaped me, because he had so little respect. I thought he was a dilettante hanger-on rather than a member of the government, because I hadn’t really appreciated the nicety that all Lords are part of the government (and a few are Chancellors and actually govern). Oh Richard, you’re really in trouble. Also, I couldn’t guess Lord Horn’s age if I tried. Michael thinks he’s aged, and apparently he’s got a grandson(!) but Richard thought he was younger than expected. Not that it matters now.

Lord Halliday is rather naive (‘a professional swordsman could have brought a case to the civil courts’) and his wife is not (‘because he’d get satisfaction from them, would he Basil?’). Lady Mary’s reflection that a single swordsman can make the whole system of government quake also suggests that re-electing Basil may not be the only reform the City is ripe for, and nicely underlines just how unequal and unfair the City is. Just in case anybody thought Richard’s supreme indifference to the legal consequences of his actions were informed, or sensible.

Michael is still growing up fast. I’m now beyond guessing what his role in the final week will be, or whether he’s in play at all. I did enjoy the glimpse into Chartil society though.

…and for a second, I thought Katherine was Richard’s wife, which would have been unexpected, but explain why he’s so solicitous of her. I think that was just Ferris brainstorming ways past the officials, though.

Last thought for the week: do we think is Richard supremely naïve or insanely arrogant? It’s so hard to tell. His incarceration reminded me strongly of Rhodry’s in Daggerspell – although Richard’s indifference is a world away from that noble’s distress. The honour of a swordsman indeed.

Finally, the (spoilerific) Storify account (thanks to Lisa) of the live-tweeted read on Sunday night. It’s official – we’ll be steaming straight along into The Privilege of the Sword, so if you’d care to join us for the second Riverside Read-along, please do! Reading schedule and sign-up.