Cathy is caught between Iris expectations and her desire for freedom, but she’s given a rude call to arms by her sister-in-law Lucy. Is she brave enough to fight for women’s rights in the Nether? Meanwhile, Will is a Very Bad Man Who Shall Not Be Forgiven, and Marcus Neugent appears to be Very Bad News. And across Londinium, Cornelius is intent on proving the old adage right: never trust a Rosa…

This week we are hosted by the lovely Lynn of Lynn’s Books.

1. Cathy has her first meeting with Lord Iris. What were your first impressions? And what do you think it is that Lord Iris and Poppy both now ‘see’ in Cathy?? 

Trouble. The question is whether they think that’s a good or a bad thing…

A number of thoughts began to percolate this week. We know very little about the Fae: they’ve presumably been defeated by the Sorcerers, and accepted banishment to Exilium and very limited influence beyond it. The Fae-bound are part of that settlement; whether they chose to stay with their Fae Lords (several generations back – and Cathy’s stab at translating the Shopkeeper’s books suggests it’s about 5, which more or less matches Mundanus and suggests everyone is pushed to have children PDQ once they’re married), they’re more or less abandoned now by Sorcerous prejudice. I was fascinated by the realization that the Sorcerers don’t actually know much about the Nether and how it works, even though they live there themselves. So who are the Sorcerers?

Sorry, I got horribly off track. Back to the Fae. The Fae have all of Time on their hands. Are the Fae-bound simply a form of amusement for them? A sideshow to distract them from their boundaries? In this context, setting them impossible challenges makes a certain sort of perverse sense. If they succeed, it will be interesting (and Lord Poppy has already made clear this is the highest compliment); if they fail, they can be punished, and that can provide some entertainment.

Or perhaps the Fae have some intricate game of politics they play out through the Fae-bound. In this case, Cathy is in an even more horrible position, caught between two Lords. I have to think her unusual upbringing and rebellious streak is what makes her interesting – so is Lord Poppy (who seems far more erratic than Iris) entertaining himself by trying to upset the Nether applecart? Lord Iris doesn’t seem to share Poppy’s tastes, though – yet by pushing the marriage and pushing Will to take Londinium, he would be tacitly supporting Poppy’s agenda.

Oh. Wait. Cathy’s rebellious streak has led her straight into the arms of the Sorcerer. She continues to work with him because she thinks he can help her escape. The Fae Lords have no interest in her dreams – but if Ekstrand were to help her escape, would it breach whatever treaty holds them in check? Could she bring down the walls between the Split Worlds and release the Fae from Exilium?

As an aside – bless Will for being considerate on Cathy’s return; and for his recognition that what she needed most was a cup of tea.

 

2. We had an insight into Amelia and also an insight into Cornelius – what are your thoughts on the two of them now and also how does this make you feel in terms of Will?

I never really had much sympathy for the Alba-Rosas, and I have a lot less now. Amelia is every bit as heartless and manipulative as I always suspected, and while I have a teeny bit of sympathy for her fears of the Agency breaking down the door, I have less sympathy for her current situation. She’s a ruthless young lady, and she uses what she has to get what she wants. I admire that in a fictional character, but I don’t have to like her for it (she’s not overly troubled by a conscience). I might have a smidgeon more sympathy for Will – enough, say, to forgive him the affair – if he hadn’t BURNT IT ALL TO A CRISP USING CHARMS ON CATHY

Michelle Rodriguez bares her teeth

As for Cornelius, I’m not remotely surprised. The Alba-Rosas are ambitious, and not interested in living on charity. Of course he’d try to find a way out of it – and he may writhe at his sister buying his safety by being Will’s mistress, but he has no qualms about selling her into marriage. After all, that was always going to be her fate.

On the other hand, wasn’t that a fascinating hint that Amelia is far more than she seems? Running a business in Mundanus? Snatching an artist from Marcus Neugent? Just what has she been up to?

 

3. It seems that everyone is puzzled by Will and Cathy’s match. Even Will jokingly (or not) wonders if he’s being offered up as a sacrifice – any thoughts as to why Will and Cathy as oppose to their more ‘suitable’ siblings?

I wondered whether that was particularly insightful on Will’s part – on the surface, the whole set-up does seem entirely backwards. Given how intent Lord Iris is that they crack on getting children – and have a son – it half makes me wonder whether there’s some sort of prophecy in play that we don’t yet know about.

 

4. Let’s just discuss the consummation of the marriage and the overall feelings afterwards? Thoughts please.

angry

I have handed in my card for Team Will. I don’t give a damn if he felt bad about it afterwards, I don’t care for his rationalization about what Lord Iris would do to them both if he hadn’t; and it doesn’t matter if Cathy subsequently comes round to the idea of her own heart. He date-raped her. There is no forgiveness for that. THIS IS NOT REMOTELY OKAY.

The thing is, if he’d just given her more time, she was coming round. He didn’t have to do this. He just has no patience – ironic, for a fucking immortal – and no backbone. SHAME ON YOU WILL.

 

5. Max and the gargoyle, how do you think the investigation is faring? What do you make of their tactics?

It rather depends on what the investigation is meant to be into. They’re failing to find the Alba-Rosas, but they’ve got a huge lead on the Agency. It makes me so angry that they know that, but they’re still giving Cathy a really hard time. The tracker on Bennet was a great idea, and there are loads of Rosa files there – they just can’t make head or tail of them. I was so proud of her for standing up to them when they threatened her with torture (and I’d love to be judgmental of Max for that, but… he’s literally had his soul removed. He has no conscience, only his duty).

 

6. Sam and his marriage. Any more thoughts about Lord Iron or Neugent?? What about the other couples who had rings forged?

Oh dear. I am still this >< close to being angry about the implications, but it’s not good news, it is? I half-wondered whether Neugent was some sort of vampire, but he seems to be aging faster than he should, which seems backwards! But are his protégées having their life force leached out through their wedding rings? Or I s Amelia Alba-Rosa responsible for their deaths? Either way, it looks like the cage around Leanne’s flat is to protect her; he may genuinely appreciate her as a member of his team and want her to survive their association.

I think Neugent is equivalent to a Patroon or Fae-bound in terms of his relationship to Lord Iron. I’m still dying to know how the Elemental Lords fit in though.

 

Obviously please feel free to add other thoughts to enlighten me – I had so many more questions about Sophie not to mention the insufferable Dame but thought I needed to stop!!

Oh my word Dame Iris was unbearable! I thought Cathy was a saint for holding her temper as long as she did, and I desperately want her out from under the thumb, but I’m not sure what that will take.

Now we know why Sophia is such a deep dark secret, but we also know something else: it’s possible to keep such secrets from Lord Iris. And that’s one hell of a secret to keep. It rather implies that Lord Iris has very little idea what happens in Mundanus, as I assume that’s where Will’s mother would have had to spend the pregnancy (and it’s where Sophia spends most of her time).

But will Lord Poppy work out the clue in the painting? And what will he do with the secret? I would hate to see anything happen to that adorable little girl!

 

My last thought for the week: I don’t see how all this can be wrapped up in one more week’s worth of reading, so I’m assuming we’re in for another cliffhanger. That being the case, my predictions for the final chapters is that Will will be made Duke of London – possibly after Bartholomew Tulipa suffers an unexpected attack from highwaymen whilst travelling in the Nether (because there’s a story line that’s never come back; so either he or Will must be due to be assaulted); and Cathy will discover she’s pregnant. I rather suspect we’ll be left hanging in terms of the Agency and the Alba-Rosas, not least given the name of the next book (All’s Fair).

 

Fancy joining in? Here’s the schedule:

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