The Poison Song Read-along: week four

Read-along banner: The Poison Song, A #WyrdAndWonder Read-along

It’s all getting very personal: as the Queen rips through Bern’s memories in her attempt to understand emotions, the war beasts discover that blood ties cannot be denied and our heroes are confronted by irresistible truths. And Hest? Hest has had enough of all their shit.


I wasn’t wrong to fear what Jen Williams had in store for us: this week was feelings top to bottom, side to side, front to back and then some.

So: spoilers, d’you think? Yes, I think so too.

Take a seat. Make yourself comfortable. Now, in your own time – how are you feeling after this week’s developments?

A picture speaks a thousand words, right? Good. Because all I’ve got is


…and Ripley gifs.


Get Away From Her You Bitch
Me: Leave my cinnamon roll alone


Tor. Tor NO. Tor, get back on the cat. TOR.


Nice shirt, Chenlo. Just kiss her already. K I S S H E R.


Go get your boi, my darling. I’m so proud.





Well, shit. We’re in trouble now, aren’t we?

The fruit may fall far from the tree, but all war beasts share a connection. What are your thoughts about Celaphon as we head into the final act?

Oh, Celaphon. He has been such a difficult character to empathise with, but he came into his own this week for me. In spite of his isolation and his pain, my pity has often been overwhelmed by my horror at his loyalty to the Jure’lian Queen and his enthusiasm for killing.

Confronted by Bern, tortured and dying, Celaphon can’t really summon up pity (let’s face it: his role models aren’t exactly blessed with fellow feeling), but he does manage a sort of compassion. Celaphon has been cut off from his siblings by Hestillion’s choices – not his own (as Bern reminds us) – and if nothing else, he understands loneliness. He has always longed for a connection, and I think that grants him the insight to understand Bern’s horror of dying in the Behemoth, cut off from his loved ones and perhaps his very soul.

In spite of everything, my heart bruised a little for him when he realised how much the war beasts hate him (although I still don’t think he knows why what he did was so terrible). While I sort of respect his commitment to the Jure’lia, this week was the first time I sort of wished he too could be saved – rather than (I suspect) for this act of cruel kindness to be the closest he gets to redemption (however concerned Hest is about his reactions to his kin).

Did Tyranny and Windfall get what they deserved? How do you think our heroes will fare against Hest’s latest tactics?

I have a confession.

I am disappoint.

No, not like that – in a very specific BUT I HOPED FOR SO MUCH MORE FROM THEM sort of way. But sometimes bad people are just bad people, full of self-interest and cat-stroking impulses. And if that is all there was to Tyranny Munk, self-made Queen of Tygrish, then this horrid ending is fitting – brought down in horror by a woman even more self-interested and vicious than she was (hi Hest).

While I will clearly never grow out of my idealistic impulses to believe the best of people and hope for redemption/reconciliation, I do appreciate a story arc that shows a villain to be a villain, allows them to revel in being a villain, and gives them a spectacularly nasty death. And say this for Tyranny: she didn’t run (possibly because she was too arrogant, granted); and she defended her own, even if she liked throwing those who crossed her to Wild tigers.

Say this too: fuck you, Tyranny.

Windfall deserved better.

However: I’m alarmed at just how inventive a strategist Hest has become (and oh my dear gods her flight suit). She’s frankly an awesome Jure’lian general, and the battle at Tygrish has allowed her to practice tactics that she can use just as effectively against Ebora.

Do I think our heroes can take her? Yes, if I’m honest, I do (oh wait, is that my idealism rearing its positive-thinking head again?) – at least assuming there’s still some heartbright left. If it all got used to destroy the eggs, then… well, then this could be ugly.

It could be worse – there could be a whole sky full of Behemoths and an endless supply of burrowers and mothers and so on – but three Behemoths is hella plenty and this time we have a truly, deeply pissed off Jure’lian Queen who has learnt what it means to make things personal… I have a feeling we’ve seen nothing yet in terms of just how nasty the final showdown is going to be.

…any last thoughts before we plunge into the final week?

If this week’s read had stopped a chapter sooner, it would have felt like we ended on victory – bittersweet perhaps, but with a glimmer of hope. Sure, Hest would surely need to be confronted, but whatever the last act held it store the existential threat of the Jure’lia seemed to have been defeated.

…but the Queen’s new understanding of vengeance leaves me utterly chilled.

I’m not sure what the final week has in store, but I am not ready.

I may never be ready.

Hold me?


This is a casual read-along – we’re reading companionably to an outline schedule and some of us are blogging as we go.

Have some thoughts to share? You’re very welcome – just weigh in with your thoughts in the comments. I guarantee we’ll be happy to chat about this series for weeks. Months. Heck, until the next Jen Williams book comes out…

Discussion Schedule

We will be completing the read-along next Sunday – altogether now:


Prompts posted on Goodreads midweek (if they’re not up by Friday, kick me).