Locke is reunited with a friend (no, not that one) before putting his life and death in the hands of the Bondsmagi, practitioners of fearsome sorceries and unexpectedly personal politics. As the ship without crew sails into the wind, Archedama Patience spells out exactly what – and who – the Gentleman Bastards will be facing in Karthain…

1) Do you think that the scene with Bug was the imaginings of Locke’s fevered mind or do you think some greater force was at work?
I’m fairly sure Bug was a product of Locke’s guilt in extremis, although there’s a little tiny bit of me that wonders whether Patience and crew put a little sting in their spells. Did it really need to be that physically and emotionally devastating, or – for all her apparent lack of regard for her son – was there a little bit of payback going on?

…on balance, still probably just Locke’s lurid imagination and battered conscience. I think saving his life was probably hard enough.

 

2) Is this job regarding the election a trap? Do you think the opposition will play by the rules?

Alex Kingston shaking her head with a grin on the Graham Norton show
Play by the rules?
Julia Roberts laughing and leaning on Richard Gere
See his resigned expression? That’s the certain knowledge of just how unfair this is going to be

As to whether it’s a trap – well, it’s a weird-ass choice to ask someone who has caused such offence to come and represent you in a crucial role. Wait, maybe we should ask Theresa May what she thinks?

But seriously, I think we’re going to find out a lot more about alien lizard Tory Bondsmagi political factions before this book is done. It’s terribly convenient to have someone at hand who at least half of you would like to squash like a bug, but who can be so easily controlled by threatening his two bestest friends in all the world. If I weren’t safe in the knowledge this is a seven-book series, I’d be worried for Locke’s safety.

 

3) The Bondsmagi seem to think that there was a reason the Elders disappeared. Any more thoughts on the Elders or their mysterious end?

This little snippet of history fascinates me. I love it as a bit of world-building: a civilisation develops in a country full of the ruins of something much much older. The general population don’t think about it too hard (even the well-educated Bastards take Eldren ruins for granted and don’t think about how they got there), but everything we know about people tells us that you have to come up with something to explain it.

One option is gods. Another is disaster. I’m intrigued that the Bondsmagi adopted a terribly convenient fear to keep themselves in check – and they’ve clung to that in the centuries since they brought down Therim Pel. As we see more of the faction politics, I have to think this fear will be a central point of disagreement. I can’t see the Falconer and his friends wanting to be constrained by a fear of something they’ve never seen any evidence of.

As a reader, I look at the Eldren and think there’s lots of other things that could have happened to them. They may not have been wiped out at all; they may still be out there somewhere. They may have become extinct (climate change; sickness; natural disaster). Other than their absence, there’s no strong evidence so far that they destroyed themselves in civil war – or that someone else destroyed them. The ruins aren’t ruined: they are intact, incorporated into the modern cities. So if something destroyed the Eldren for getting too powerful, they were terribly tidy in going about it.

I love the trope of the ancient thing returning, so I’m going to shamelessly hope that they put in an appearance before the end of the series.

 

4) Do you think Locke will meet his match in Sabetha? The interludes have hinted at a long standing rivalry…

I think Sabetha has a lifetime of bitterness at being upstaged (however unintentionally) by her fellow Bastard, and will approach this challenge with a vindictive will to win. No mercy. No pulled punches. Just low blows.

If anyone can match Locke, it’s Sabetha. From what we’ve seen in the interludes, she’s brilliant. Yet somehow he has always managed to finish ahead of her – snatching purses, manipulating yellowjackets, being picked as a priest.

So what will happen this time? We know she walked away in the past – so she probably has an edge in directly manipulating his feelings, because he’s lost almost everyone he cares about since they last met (although: she probably doesn’t know what happened in Camorr?).

Too close to call.

 

5) What are your thoughts on the interludes? Is it painful to be returning to departed friends?

I’m loving the interludes – it’s a delight to be returning to the young Bastards and so far we’re far enough back in the past that it’s not really tainted by foreboding or regret for what lies ahead. The interlude on Coinkisser’s Row may be one of my favourite flashbacks so far.

 

Take a tour of our responses this week:

  • Wendy and Tiara at The Bibliosanctum
  • Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
  • Sarah at The Illustrated Page
  • and John in the comments 🙂

 

Discussion schedule 

We’ll be reading roughly 100 pages per week:

  • July 7th – Prologue to the end Chapter 2 – hosted here at x+1
  • July 14th – Interlude (The Boy Who Chased Red Dresses) to end Book I – hosted at The Illustrated Page
  • July 21st – Interlude (Striking Sparks) to Intersect II (Tinder) – hosted here at x+1
  • July 28th – Interlude (The Moncraine Company) to end Book II – hosted at The Illustrated Page
  • August 4th – Interlude Ch8 to Intersect III (Spark) – hosted here at x+1
  • August 11th – Interlude (An Inconvenient Patron) to Epilogue – hosted at Over the Effing Rainbow

Want to get in on the action? It’s not to late to join us – just leave a comment below and get reading!