It’s all go this week – all the simmering plots boil over at once as Cathy persuades Max to hunt down the missing members of the book club; Margritte realises she may not have the stomach to take revenge; and Sam gets the biggest surprise of anyone. Over half way through the third book it seems a little redundant to say this, but: expect spoilers.

Sarah of The Illustrated Page is our gracious host for this penultimate week’s questions:

1. What do you think the Fae could be breeding people for? And why Cathy and Will?

The thing about immortality is that you can afford to play a very long game. It makes it very difficult to second-guess from the outside, as we can only glimpse a tiny fraction of what’s going on and what might be motivating the players. My best guess with Lord Iris remains that he’s trying to reunite the Split Worlds; and because I’m contrary I propose that there’s actually no relevance to their son at all.

The pressure to have a son within the year is intended only to force the couple together – to forge them into a unit who act as one rather than just treading water independently. If Lord Iris hadn’t demanded a child, Will would cheerfully have gone on having an affair and Cathy would probably have worked out how to run away; instead, they were made to feel their fate was inescapable and it’s helped them forge a relationship.

As a team, they are far more formidable. As a wife coming to respect and love her husband, Cathy has become more closely bound to the Nether – which has in turn helped drive her commitment to stay and fight for what she believes in. She’s no longer alone, so she’s stronger. And with Lord Poppy’s third wish, it suddenly seems that turning the Nether on its collective ear is exactly what the Fae Lords want. If Cathy destroys the Agency, will she weaken the walls of Exilium in some way?

2. Cathy’s third wish starts to provide some hope right when things look most desperate. Do you think she has a shot? Will the book group end up being of any help?

I do think she has a shot. With her commitment and Poppy’s magic behind her, she’s already turned Carter – a brainwashed Agency bodyguard – into an ally (unless he’s going along with her until he can turn on her; that would be entirely in character for these books, although he doesn’t seem that bright). She’s compelling – we saw that with Margritte and Georgiana – and she’s no longer silenced. Is she scared enough of Dame Iris to be careful how she plays her cards? Perhaps.

I suspect the book group has a role to play, although again I’m contrary enough that I’d rather enjoy them being a red herring.

3. Will’s landed in some dire straits. Do you think he’ll be able to wiggle out of it? Do you want him to?

I’d be perfectly happy for him to come to a sticky end at this point, but I don’t think he will. I think his fate rests in Margritte’s hands – and I think she has a conscience. I am oh so fascinated that Rupert destroyed his wedding ring though; that will surely have consequences!

4. So much has been revealed about the Elemental Court. Do you think Sam’s making the right decisions? Will he be able to use his new power to create some change?

Oh my word. I nearly fell off my chair at this turn of events! I don’t think Sam is capable of making the right decisions – he’s deep in mourning and now in shock. His instinctive response of Doing Good is entirely in character – but as when he rescued the kidnapped folk from Exilium, he hasn’t paused to think it through, so I rather assume it will blow up in his face.

After all, his first thought is to go Sort Out Poppy – who right now looks arbitrary, obnoxious and potentially really useful to keep in play… So yes, Sam has the power to create change. But I doubt it will work out as he intends – and I’ve not forgotten Amir’s comment that he corrupted everything he touched, regardless of his intentions. I suspect that’s an aspect of being Lord Iron, not a random emo moment or a quality unique to the previous incumbent..

Other thoughts this week:

However disappointed I am in Will, my heart did warm just a little that he’d been reading classic scifi so that he could make Cathy happy by discussing it over dinner. Awwww.

 

Fancy joining in? Here’s the schedule:

Questions, chitchat and links to all participants can be found on GoodReads and on Twitter by following @SFFReadalongs.