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The [God Stalk] Group Read: January

75 Books Challenge for 2018

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1ronincats
Edited: Dec 30, 2017, 7:16pm Top



Welcome, one and all, to the group read of one of my favorite classic fantasies, God Stalk by P. C. Hodgell. I look forward to introducing you to one of the under-recognized fantasy books of the genre. Although this book is the first of a series, it can easily be read as a stand-alone. In fact, that is how many of us were forced to read it for the first 15 or 20 years after it was published.

In part, this is due to the publishing history. After this book was published in 1982, the next book was not published until 1985 and practically no one saw it then. I certainly didn’t, and I would have been looking for it. Two of her more recent publishers, Hypatia Press and Meisha Merlin,went out of business (after publishing books 3 and 4 in hard-cover), the latter in 2007, temporarily leaving her without a venue for future works. Her work was picked up by Baen in or shortly before 2010, who published the fifth "Jame" novel, Bound in Blood, and reissued the previous four books as a pair of omnibus editions, The God Stalker Chronicles and Seeker's Bane.1 Baen also released the novels as e-books.

God Stalker Chronicles
1. God Stalk, 1982 (ISBN 978-0425060797)
2. Dark of the Moon, 1985 (ISBN 978-0689311710)
3. Seeker's Mask, 1994 (ISBN 978-0739418871)
4. To Ride a Rathorn, August 2006 (ISBN 978-1592221028)
5. Bound In Blood, March 2010 (ISBN 978-1439133408)
6. Honor's Paradox, December 2011 (ISBN 978-1451637625)
7. The Sea of Time, June 2014 (ISBN 978-1476736495)
8. The Gates of Tagmeth, August 2017 (ISBN 978-1481482547) 2
Short story collection
• Blood and Ivory: A Tapestry, 2002: contains some new stories, some previously released (hardcover: ISBN 978-1-892065-73-5, paperback: ISBN 978-1-892065-72-8)
Omnibus editions
• Chronicles of the Kencyrath, 1987: contains God Stalk and Dark of the Moon (ISBN 978-0450424007)
• Dark of the Gods, 2000: contains God Stalk, Dark of the Moon, and short story Bones (ISBN 978-1892065261)
• Godstalker Chronicles, 2006: contains God Stalk, Dark of the Moon, Seeker's Mask, To Ride a Rathorn, and Blood and Ivory: A Tapestry in Baen ebook formats.5
• The God Stalker Chronicles, 2009: contains God Stalk and Dark of the Moon (ISBN 143913295X)
• Seeker's Bane, TBP July 7, 2009 from Baen: contains Seeker's Mask and To Ride a Rathorn (ISBN 1439132976)

2ronincats
Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 12:49pm Top

I don’t want to impose too many constraints on your read, but thought I’d set up some tentative structure.

Dec. 31-Jan.5: Greeting, people confirming they are participating, if they have their books, anticipating, etc.

Jan. 6-12: Discussion of Book 1 (first four chapters, Jame’s intro to the city of Tai-Tastigon and many of the key characters)

Jan. 12-18: Book 2 (Chapters 5-8) and prior material for discussion

Jan. 18-25: Book 2 (Chapters 8-11) and prior material for discussion

Jan. 25-31: Book 3 (Chapters 12-14 and appendices if so inclined) and prior material for discussion

Feel free to discuss any part of the book at any time, but use the Spoiler feature if you are in advance of the schedule. To use the Spoiler feature, type (spoiler) before your statement and (/spoiler) after it, using the pointy brackets instead of parentheses, and that will hide your writing. People can click on it if they want to see what you have written. Once we are in the discussion period, there is no need to use spoilers for any parts of the book in that section or before. People still reading earlier parts of the book should be wary of reading the thread at that point if they are not yet in that section if they want to avoid spoilers.

Does that make sense? Is it clear?

3drneutron
Dec 30, 2017, 7:20pm Top

Clear to me! I have the thread on the Group Wiki.

4quondame
Dec 30, 2017, 7:24pm Top

It looks like LAPL has most of the titles, so I'm in! I've read at least one of her short stories, but really with my memory she's as good as a brand new author!

5ronincats
Edited: Dec 30, 2017, 7:45pm Top

>3 drneutron: Thanks, Jim. On top of things as usual. Only up for 3 minutes and you've got it! Glad you are planning on joining us for this one.

>4 quondame: Susan, to be clear, we are only reading the first book. If you like that, it IS really nice that nowadays all her titles are available.

6roundballnz
Dec 30, 2017, 8:12pm Top

Greetings from the future ( its 31st here) I have acquired "The god stalker chronicles" from the library, looks to cover the first 2 books - disclaimer I have very good intentions of reading this book, but I am a magpie so if i disappear its because something shiny caught my eye ...😳

7Crazymamie
Dec 30, 2017, 8:49pm Top

Roni, thanks for setting this up. I purchased the Kindle edition, and have started reading. I like your outline for discussion and appreciate the time and thought that you put into organizing this for us. What a fun start this will be to the New Year!

8Dejah_Thoris
Dec 30, 2017, 10:02pm Top

I'm ready, Roni!

9LizzieD
Dec 30, 2017, 10:46pm Top

Looks good, Roni! Count me in on the fringes. I have *Godstalker Chronicles* too, and I'll try to be good.

10Berly
Dec 31, 2017, 12:29am Top

I'm in and I have my book, on Chapter 2. Copying the agenda to my own thread so I can stay on track with the group. Thanks, Roni!!

11SandDune
Dec 31, 2017, 4:24am Top

I’ve bought The God Stalker Chronicles as well.

12rretzler
Dec 31, 2017, 9:28am Top

Thanks so much, Roni, for organizing this! What fun - I'm so looking forward to it. I also have The God Stalker Chronicles.

13streamsong
Dec 31, 2017, 9:46am Top

I'm in, Roni! I have my copy of God Stalk ready to go, but I haven't started it yet.

14dragonaria
Dec 31, 2017, 10:13am Top

Looks like an interesting read! I've requested The God Stalker Chronicles (from outer Mongolia) and it looks like I should be able to get the rest.

15DeltaQueen50
Dec 31, 2017, 1:01pm Top

Hi everyone, I have God Stalk keyed up on my Kindle and I am planning on starting it in a day or so. Looking forward to this one.

16Storeetllr
Dec 31, 2017, 5:35pm Top

Yay! Thanks so much for setting this up, Roni, and for easing my mind which still gets an image of a stalk of celery with eyes under its leafy green "hair" when I think of this title. *sigh* TMI (Too Much Imagination)

I bought The God Stalker Chronicles and have it on my Kindle.

17ronincats
Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 5:53pm Top

Welcome, Alex (our time traveler), Mamie, Dejah, Peggy, Kim, Rhian, Robin, Janet, Kimberly, Judy and Mary!

>16 Storeetllr: Your image always makes me think of The Celery Stalks at Midnight, Mary; I can't avoid it!


I'm still encouraging people to read this first book before investing in the whole series. I love it but we are 35 years along and Jame is definitely closer but still has not resolved many of the mysteries that arise in this book. This may not be to everyone's taste so, much as I love them, I urge dipping one's toe in first. ETA I pray frequently for Hodgell's health.

18rretzler
Dec 31, 2017, 5:56pm Top

>16 Storeetllr: Mary, I have to laugh...I also imagine a stalk of celery!

19Storeetllr
Dec 31, 2017, 6:07pm Top

>17 ronincats: Hahahaha! Too funny.

>18 rretzler: Right?!? (SO glad I'm not the only one!)

20EBT1002
Dec 31, 2017, 8:31pm Top

Hi Roni! I'm here to drop off my star. I have the book and plan to join in although I'm not sure when I'll get started on it. Possibly the second week of the month. It will be a comfort zone stretcher for me and I'm looking forward to it!

21richardderus
Jan 1, 11:39am Top

Okay, thanks to Mamie, I now know where this thread is. I have my copy and am planning to crack it today. It has been *torture* not to read the whole thing in a gulp since I've had it for a week-plus.

Let the revels commence.

22souloftherose
Jan 1, 1:30pm Top

I'm in - will probably start reading later this week.

23jnwelch
Jan 1, 1:34pm Top

Mine hasn't arrived through the mail yet, so I'll be joining later.

24kgodey
Jan 1, 4:12pm Top

I have God Stalk but I'm not sure I can read it before Jan 12. I'll be participating as soon as I read it.

25humouress
Jan 3, 2:12pm Top

Catching up; Happy New Year, everyone. I'm ready to go, now that I've finished The Lies of Locke Lamora (which wasn't as bad as I was dreading, probably because I was dreading it, but I took it slowly).

And just to dispel these strange visions of vegetables, here is my cover:



This will be my third time of reading the first book in recent years (and I'm pretty sure I read it when it first came out, too) but I don't mind, because - though it seems dark in places - it's so much fun.

26tapestry100
Jan 3, 2:16pm Top

Count me in! I'll be downloading the ebook sooner than later!

27sibyx
Jan 3, 6:31pm Top

I'm here! Have Book 1!

28rretzler
Jan 3, 9:28pm Top

Started today and read the first chapter. I'll hold my comments until the proper time, but I'm making lots of good highlights so I can remember. Really liking it so far!

29LizzieD
Jan 3, 11:06pm Top

I started today too, Robin, and read a couple of chapters. I tend to like old fantasies rather than the newest ones, so I suspect that this one will be right down my alley.

30richardderus
Edited: Jan 4, 2:08pm Top

Woo hoo hoo...chapter 1 is quite the ride!

Men said afterward that no blacker night had ever fallen...The wind roared through the city, ripping up slates, clawing at the houses until those within feared that not a wall would stand until morning. They thought they heard voices wailing high above the earth, and those who peered out swore that they saw terrible things as the north wind, the demon wind, bore southward the nightmares of a dying land.
from page 18 of the Atheneum edition.

31humouress
Jan 4, 4:42pm Top

Isn’t it? Somewhat dark, but humorous, too. I’ve got up to the cat:

‘The first thing Jame saw upon opening her eyes was the cat. It was rather hard to overlook, being very large, very close and, in fact, very solidly sitting on her chest.’

33Berly
Jan 4, 5:11pm Top

On chapter 4...

34Crazymamie
Jan 4, 5:50pm Top

>33 Berly: Me, too!

35Storeetllr
Jan 4, 6:52pm Top

>31 humouress: Well, no wonder Roni loves this book so much. It's got cats!

36richardderus
Jan 4, 7:25pm Top

>35 Storeetllr: Yes. It does. Lots of cats. Way too many cats.

37ronincats
Jan 4, 7:55pm Top

Robin, Mary, Ellen, Richard, Heather, Joe, Kriti, Nina, David, Lucy, Robin, Peggy, Kim, Mamie--thanks for checking in!

Richard, isn't that first chapter something?
Are you more bothered by number of cats or by sheer poundage of cat? And cats do have a way of making a book seem like home, right, Nina and Mary?

Suggested soundtrack for Chapter 3: Up on the Roof by The Drifters (or Carole King, your preference).

38richardderus
Jan 4, 8:04pm Top

>37 ronincats: Cats. Blergh.

Ha! Love your soundtrack choice for chapter 3.

39humouress
Jan 4, 10:01pm Top

>37 ronincats: Er, sorry Roni; we’re officially dog people now. (And while I’m sure Jasper wouldn’t mind sharing us with another animal, he’s so gosh darn enthusiastic that he scares them all off, even though he’s not large for a retriever.)

40richardderus
Jan 5, 8:52pm Top

It's very cat-ified...though now I'm not sure what will happen with Res aB'tyrr now that Jame is in the Guild.

It's the 6th somewhere! I'm sure I'm not the only one done with book I.

41ronincats
Edited: Jan 5, 8:57pm Top

>38 richardderus: Only ONE cat so far, Boo, who is quite pacific, so stop making such a fuss, Richard!
>39 humouress: Get a five-month-old kitten in there, Nina, and it'll show Jasper who's boss!! Not quite coincidentally, that's the age of my duo.

Remember, tomorrow people can start discussing the first four chapters (Book 1) openly, so if you aren't that far, be prepared for possible spoilers. Although actually, all of this is pretty much set-up for the rest of the book so I don't think that anything will really be seriously spoilery. Looking forward to hearing what first impressions are!

42DeltaQueen50
Jan 5, 9:54pm Top

Currently I am reading Chapter 7: The Feast of Fools and enjoying this story a lot.

43ronincats
Edited: Jan 5, 10:31pm Top

I'm on Chapter 8, Judy, where we finally get to see Jame do some "stalking", so not that far ahead of you. Glad you are liking it.

ETA >40 richardderus: Oops, missed you, Richard. Yes, it is indeed the 6th everywhere Greenland and east. Your time is coming soon. ;-)

44humouress
Jan 5, 11:28pm Top

>41 ronincats: The thing is, Boo would probably want to snuggle up to Richard, who would probably interpret that as a hostile gesture.

As for a kitten, we're still coming to terms with a very energetic puppy/ dog. Although all the neighbours' cats who used to prowl through our pre-canine garden and leave dirty paw marks all over my car bonnet seem to have vanished (though I'm sure Jasper would have appreciated the company).

It's past noon on the 6th here (to get back on topic) but I'm only at the end of Chapter 3. I can keep up with discussions, though, as it's my 4th time of reading.

45Storeetllr
Jan 5, 11:43pm Top

Hmm, looks like I better get busy reading rather than fooling around online.

46Berly
Jan 5, 11:49pm Top

On Chapter 5 and really want to keep reading, so I will just to be good about using spoilers if it's past where we are supposed to talk about.

47humouress
Jan 5, 11:56pm Top

>46 Berly: It's so much fun, isn't it?

I've just finished The Lies of Locke Lamora which has similar themes, but a lot of readers found too violent. The violence is there in God Stalk, too, but it's dwelt on less, there's more humour and maybe the characters are more caring. They're definitely a few layers of society above those in LLL.

48Berly
Jan 5, 11:58pm Top

>47 humouress: Absolutely! : )

49souloftherose
Jan 6, 4:45am Top

I've finished the first four chapters too - really enjoying it so far and very intrigued by everything going on. The first chapter reminded me a lot of Barbara Hambly's The Time of the Dark in terms of that sense of unknown menace in the city.

50humouress
Jan 6, 6:42am Top

Same here. "Tatters of Dusk" done and dusted; I'm ready to go when you are.

51Crazymamie
Jan 6, 10:59am Top

Like Judy, I am also on chapter 7. A very fun ride so far.

52jnwelch
Jan 6, 11:01am Top

I'm about a third of the way in. What a pace! Starts off at a gallop, and keeps going. Go Jame!

53richardderus
Jan 6, 11:29am Top

The whole King-of-the-Clouds'-britches thing was weird and not well handled, I think. It would've been better to have seen it in real time from Jame's PoV.

And there are multiple cats even though Boo is the only one hanging around Jame. I'm going to be allergic, I can tell.

54humouress
Jan 6, 11:33am Top

>53 richardderus: Well, I knew it was coming, but thinking back to the first time I (re)read it, I think you're right. It would have been more fun.

As for cats, oh, the pleasures that are in store for you ;0)

55richardderus
Jan 6, 11:58am Top

>54 humouress: Yeah, the greatest pleasure for me re c-words is "extinction-level event." I think that unlikely in a fantasy novel. More's the pity!

56humouress
Jan 6, 12:42pm Top

>55 richardderus: No; that's what the Kencyrath are trying to prevent. So hopefully not.

57richardderus
Jan 6, 12:46pm Top

...maybe a species-specific one? Please?

58DeltaQueen50
Jan 6, 3:57pm Top

I am enjoying the story and I find Jame a likeable character who is easy to root for. I already have some favorite characters such as Cleppetty (I love her name) and fellow thief, Dally. There is a lot more to know about Jame and her circumstances but it seems the author is going to reveal this very slowly. I would like to know more about Jame's twin brother as well.

59richardderus
Jan 6, 4:23pm Top

I'm hoping for more on Tori, the twin, as well Judy. In fact I hope the entire issue that led to Jame's home keep being depopulated will be gone into at some point.

60jnwelch
Jan 6, 4:34pm Top

>58 DeltaQueen50: Well said. Agree with all of that.

>59 richardderus: This, too.

61quondame
Jan 6, 5:24pm Top

I haven't started yet, but I do have my copy, so I'm in.

62ronincats
Jan 6, 5:27pm Top

Okay, anybody else who loves to see a fantasy that starts out with MAPS?

63RBeffa
Edited: Jan 6, 6:36pm Top

>62 ronincats: Funny that you said that because it was certainly the first thing I noticed.

and then my second thought was uh oh she thinks we need maps ;)

64quondame
Jan 6, 7:59pm Top

>62 ronincats: I am most partial to maps. I spent most of The Mongrel Mage trying to figure out which way characters were headed - and there were maps in front, just not for that book of the series.

65richardderus
Jan 6, 8:04pm Top

I'm verschmeckeled by the maps in my 1982 Atheneum edition. I can't tell where River Street is supposed to be, versus the River Tone. AFAIK, the rivers are all wide on the map...double lines...so where's the street?

I'm pernickety, I guess. It's not a help to me when I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what's river and what's street.

66ronincats
Jan 6, 9:18pm Top

I'm such a visual processor; I have to admit I love maps! That said, I didn't really use these. But part of that was probably due to familiarity with the story.



Richard, my impression from the text is that the streets ran along either side of the river or canal.

67humouress
Jan 6, 9:31pm Top

>62 ronincats: ME!

>66 ronincats: Ooh, gorgeous. Mine’s only black and white. By the way, I’m assuming that Ship Island is the Thieves’ Guild headquarters?

68DeltaQueen50
Jan 6, 9:40pm Top

I love maps as well but I also appreciated the list of Principal Characters and referred to it often at the beginning of the book until I got the various characters straight in my mind.

69richardderus
Jan 6, 9:45pm Top

>66 ronincats: My map resembles that one almost not at all. Poor quality printing.

>68 DeltaQueen50: That Dramatis Personae was very useful indeed.

70DeltaQueen50
Jan 6, 9:51pm Top

>69 richardderus: Heh, Heh, it sure helped me to know my Theocandi's from my Galishan's!

71humouress
Jan 6, 10:42pm Top

>69 richardderus: In that case,

72quondame
Jan 6, 10:47pm Top

The first chapter was pretty dense for me to get through - very much like a dream sequence.
Then the story really gets zipping along in the 4th chapter - and it was hard to put the book down ....

>36 richardderus: Why are there so many more cats in fantasies than dogs? In real European medieval times dogs seem much more present than cats, but so few of our adventurers have hounds at their heels.

73ronincats
Jan 7, 12:03am Top

The map in >66 ronincats: is from the Kencyr wiki here: http://kencyr.wikia.com/wiki/Tai-tastigon.

Chapter One is definitely atmospheric and, yes, Susan, very much like a dream sequence. And then we drop into the prosaic environment of the inn in Chapter Two very abruptly. And over the next three chapters, Book One, we meet almost all the main characters. The main acts are ready to start.

74richardderus
Jan 7, 10:39am Top

>71 humouress: Thank you!

>72 quondame: My personal theory is so that I won't read fantasy novels, but in point of fact I don't know. Maybe it has something to do with cats being the familiars of witches in medieval imaginings?

>73 ronincats: ...there's a wiki...wow...

75rretzler
Edited: Jan 7, 11:17am Top

I am enjoying this book immensely! Thank you again, Roni, for suggesting it. I'm trying to read just enough to stay current, without reading over because 1) I am likely to forget and 2) I'm reading 2 other books for group reads and I want to stay current with those as well. Not reading over is very difficult, but I think it will work out better in the end for me.

>66 ronincats: Ooh, pretty map! I'm heading to the wiki.

My first question and it may have been answered, but I can't find it, is how is everyone pronouncing Jame. Is it like Jane, but with an m, or like Jamie? Is the j pronounced with a j sound or with an h sound? I've settled in my mind on Jane with an m but wondered if there was a definitive answer or not.

So it may be wishful thinking on my part, but I feel like the cats may have some part to play in the end. It sounded pretty ominous when Boo was lying on Jame's chest, and she felt she couldn't breathe, after her cat with hands for paws experience from the first chapter.
then snuggled down with its nose tucked under her chin and one forefoot resting firmly in the hollow at the base of her throat. This made it somewhat hard to breathe.
and
"You haven't been smothered, have you? I mean, it would be a bit much after surviving the Feast of Dead Gods to be done in by Mistress Abernia's pet tabby, wouldn't it?"
I'm not suggesting that Boo is evil, I think he is Jame's friend, but it seems too much has been made of cats to have it all be for naught. And I have to admit, when the Skyrrman household killed the piebald cat, the author achieved her purpose in making me hate Marplet and his cronies.

I'm looking forward to finding out more about this:
only three objects remained inside: a book wrapped in old linen, the shards of a sword with the hilt emblem defaced, and the small package that contained her father's ring, still on his finger.
Still on his finger?

Several times, Jame has mentioned "He"
He would follow, for there were things he would want back from her, things he would come great distances to reclaim.
and
He had said that she was tainted, a thing without honor, and they had let him drive her out into the wilderness.
Do we know who this is yet? Her father? Anar? The Three-Faced God? Someone else we have not met yet?

I like Dally, but wonder if I should be a little skeptical of his friendship?

Lots and lots of questions have come up in Book I that I hope will be answered in God Stalk but I fear that the author will leave some questions unanswered to leave us wanting more.

76richardderus
Jan 7, 11:20am Top

>75 rretzler: I've been saying "Jaym" in my head...like I've been saying "Marple" like Miss Marple but with a sharp "T" sound on the end for Marplet. I suspect most say "Marp-lett."

Dally seems like a pleasant but blah little trotter-along for Jame as of now.

Cats. Evil. All I'm sayin'.

77Crazymamie
Jan 7, 1:51pm Top

>75 rretzler: Great questions, Robin. I have been pronouncing it like Jamie. I'll just sit down and wait for someone to show up to answer your other questions - I am curious about what everyone is thinking.

78souloftherose
Jan 7, 4:16pm Top

>75 rretzler: Yes, I have that feeling about questions being left unanswered too. I think I've been pronouncing Jame as 'Jayme' (like Jane with an 'm) but no idea if that's right.

I've read up to the end of chapter 8 and I'm confused and not sure if I'm meant to be. So I'm going to pause and wait for other people to catch up.

79justchris
Jan 7, 8:45pm Top

Late but present! It's interesting to go back to the very first book after so many years. And to take it really slowly too.

Back in the 1990s when I was young, I did a lot of traveling about by bus and train. I would while away the miles in transit with paperbacks I would pick up for $1-2 at used bookstores at various stops along the way, to be exchanged for others on the next leg of my trip. That's how I first stumbled over God Stalk. It was so much fun, and so unusual, I kept it. And managed to find Dark of the Moon not too much later. Then so many years of waiting before the later books emerged. When Meisha Merlin picked them up and reissued the first two as the omnibus Dark of the Gods, I ordered a bunch of them and gave them as gifts to multiple friends because Hodgell is so underappreciated. The bookstore was kind enough to give me a book club discount for the order.

I find that the first book still sparkles, both prose and dialogue, with minimal exposition so far. I just finished chapter 2, so some catching up to do still. Chapter 1--introduction of the conceptual underpinning of the story (the nature of divinity and religious faith) and setting the scene and overall ambience without any characters messing up the view yet beyond mysterious backstory glimpses. Chapter 2--introduction of the emotional center and most of the key characters and plot drivers, with foreshadowing of most of the events later in the story.

I believe Jame is pronounced as a single syllable. In later books people mistakenly call her by a two-syllable nickname that she hates that isn't pronounced Jamie. My reasoning is if that other version is everyone's mistaken go-to, rather than Jamie, then the version she uses is probably one syllable, not two. But I could be wrong about that.

80justchris
Jan 7, 8:46pm Top

>75 rretzler:Do we know who this is yet? Her father? Anar? The Three-Faced God? Someone else we have not met yet?

I like Dally, but wonder if I should be a little skeptical of his friendship?


Well, I know the answers but wouldn't want to spoil it for others.

81humouress
Edited: Jan 7, 11:11pm Top

>75 rretzler: Regarding the pronunciation of ‘Jame’ I’ve always thought of it as ‘James’ without the S.

>76 richardderus: Why would you unnecessarily complicate your life? ‘Marpl-t’ is a bit of a tongue-twister.

>78 souloftherose: This is my fourth time of reading and the first time I’m not confused. But then, I’m only starting chapter 7. For instance, >79 justchris: one thing I’ve finally got a handle on is that the gods are very much present and involved (if rarely) in day to day life. Not just the ‘things that go bump in the night’ level gods, like the baby-handed god Jame met on her first night but the more, um, serious gods like her own god giving her a pronouncement or the real presence of Dally’s father in his temple.

I’m also managing to keep track of who’s who in the Thieves Guild.

>80 justchris: Hee hee :0o

ETA *mutters* blinkin’ auto-‘correct’

82swynn
Jan 7, 11:36pm Top

Also late but here. I'm reading a beaten-up copy of the 1983 Berkely paperback edition, patched with Scotch tape, that I rescued from the last-chance-before-recycling shelf at a used bookstore. The cover is the one in post #1. I love this cover, but can't find an artist credit. Who did this?

I've finished the first four chapters and am wondering how I never heard of this? Like others I am loving the setting. That first chapter is wildly atmospheric, and the Lower Town labyrinth is effectively claustrophobic.

83rretzler
Jan 8, 12:21am Top

>80 justchris: Just rhetorical questions, of course. 🙂 Put here to remind myself later of my impressions while reading. I'm sure throughout the book things will be revealed and I will find out that I have been wildly wrong about everything I'm thinking!

>81 humouress: Nina (and Roni and Chris and anyone else who has read the book), it is interesting that you have perhaps a different take on it with subsequent readings. I like that about books, that they can surprise you even though you have read them time and time again -that you can find that one thing on a reread that may put a different spin on everything. As we read, I would love to know how your thoughts have changed with subsequent readings.

84Berly
Edited: Jan 8, 2:15am Top

I have three books I am supposed to be reading just a little bit at a time and it was driving me crazy! One of them is for an actual weekly class, so I decided to stay on course with that one. Nicholas Nickelby I am trying to read a little everyday, but God Stalk I just couldn't put down! Finished it and loved it. Some of my questions were answered as I read along, but I have some areas I want to see what others took away. Later on....

>68 DeltaQueen50: So my Kindle had the map at the front, but the list of characters at the end. I could have used the latter BEFORE I read the book! LOL

Have fun!!

85humouress
Jan 8, 2:43am Top

I’m enjoying the little, mundane details that have no impact on the plot, such as Clepetty tossing down a bundle of ribbons that unravel in mid-air and float down to cover Jame and Tubain. It’s reminiscent of the 80s/ 90s fantasy that I miss. Nowadays it’s all hard edges and grit, I feel.

86Crazymamie
Jan 8, 10:03am Top

>84 Berly: Oh! Good to know the list of characters is at the end - I am reading it on Kindle, so thanks, Kim!

87streamsong
Edited: Jan 8, 12:30pm Top

I just finished chapter 5 and it has sucked me right in. I'm already contemplating going on and acquiring the second book. None of the series are available through the library.

>75 rretzler: good summation of the questions! And yes, I hate the cat killing - even worse than the abuse of the girls. This makes me a bit uneasy with the state of my psyche - surely I should be more upset about the girls! - but there it is.

>81 humouress: "I’m also managing to keep track of who’s who in the Thieves Guild." I'm glad you said this! It's my first time through, and I'm constantly having to refer to the characters list.

I agree that it's wonderful world building and we've stepped right into the middle of something going on for thousands of years.

88humouress
Jan 8, 10:52am Top

>87 streamsong: I'm up to Chapter 9 and also having to keep careful track of the High Lords of the Kencyrath, whose names all helpfully start with G.

89rretzler
Jan 8, 11:08am Top

>88 humouress: Ugh, I hate it when characters have names which start with the same first letter. It can be so confusing to me - somehow my brain identifies the character by the first letter of their name. I always knew that I had issues with this, but it was confirmed when I started reading aloud to my boys. In Harry Potter, for instance, we have Harry, Hermione, and Hagrid as main characters. There is something about the way I read where I see the first letter and say the first character that comes to mind. The boys were always saying "Don't you mean Harry, mom? Not Hagrid?" Much, much more difficult when many characters' names start with the same letter - I wish authors would be cognizant of it. But I'm happy to see that I may not be alone in this!

90DeltaQueen50
Jan 8, 1:23pm Top

>84 Berly: & >86 Crazymamie: I am also reading God Stalk on my kindle but for me the list of characters is at the front of the book! I guess it varys according to which version one is reading. I have been trying to hold back on quickly finishing God Stalk so I have set it aside, but it keeps coming to mind so I will probably pick it up again and finish it!

91sibyx
Jan 8, 1:35pm Top

>83 rretzler: I very much like that question of a changing view with subsequent readings.

All I have for now are impressions. I thought the opening chapter somewhat unusual--it's very tense and suspenseful, and yet there is no defined enemy, more the menace of being caught off-guard, of being alone in an entirely unfamiliar setting. We've almost all been in this place as adolescents, a rite of passage that first time you find yourself in a setting where you know no one, are completely lost, and completely dependent on your own ingenuity and resources to get yourself to safety. It doesn't always end happily either.

After that the book appears to settle into a more traditional mode. Jame finds a home, allies, friends, and even a vocation although not one she would have chosen and isn't sure yet what it will entail.

Large plot elements loom--the seemingly hopeless task of the Kencyrath being the most overarching, Jame's many year memory lapse and the role of the gods and the nature of her own god and her obligations to it (them?).

Some things have happened too suddenly and easily for me, others feel just right. The book does feel very much like the work of a writer who is feeling her own way. Much thought has gone into building the world, but the story itself has yet to start unrolling confidently.

92ronincats
Jan 8, 4:12pm Top

I've been snooping around on Hodgell's LiveJournal feed and, lo and behold, the next book (#9) takes Jame back to Tai-tastigon!

My agent is working on a contract for the return to Tai-tastigon novel. I'm a bit nervous about revisiting the city after all of these years. For one thing, my style has changed a lot since God Stalk. I think that, technically, I'm a better writer now. However, I don't think I still have the youthful bounce that made GS so much fun. After all, for me it's been 30+ years. It will be different for Jame too. A lot has happened in her life too although it's only been about 4 years. That will be an issue: how much has she changed? Then too, the city is in a bit of a mess. So we'll see. I've carried this extended story in my mind for a long, long time.

93richardderus
Jan 8, 4:36pm Top

>92 ronincats: Sounds like a great publishing story, the way she's kept at it all these years. Book nine! What an achievement.

94sibyx
Jan 8, 8:22pm Top

Cool beans!

I'm back to say that somewhere between pages 80 and 90 something shifted for me and now I am fully engaged. Perhaps tomorrow I will try and see if I can figure out what moment that was, it really was between one sentence and the next!

95DeltaQueen50
Jan 8, 11:28pm Top

I also couldn't wait and I've finished the book. Overall I really liked it and I will be following up with more of the series. I will post my review to the book page and I'm pretty sure that I've kept it free of spoilers.

96LizzieD
Jan 8, 11:45pm Top

I'm far, far behind with no hope of catching up tomorrow.
As to pronunciation of Jame. With tongue in cheek I was going to suggest "Zhah-meh." Now I sort of like it, and that's what I'm saying in my mind. I suspect that 1 syllable "Jame" is right.

97sirfurboy
Jan 9, 6:36am Top

Yikes, I am already behind! Still, here is my greeting, and confirmation that I will be joining in... so that makes me only 4 days behind now!

Hi everyone and thanks Roni.

98sibyx
Jan 9, 7:01am Top

>96 LizzieD: I debated that then saw the debate here and stuck with Jame, but I do give it that Zh sound - a soft j.

99ronincats
Jan 9, 4:06pm Top

From the horse's mouth:
And yes, it's J-long a-m. Only a few people in the stories call her Jamie, for example those who knew her as a child.

100HanGerg
Jan 9, 4:27pm Top

Ok, I'm in!! Just found out about this thread and have just bought the book on Kindle. (Ahhhhh! Instant gratification!) I haven't read any comments as I haven't started reading yet, but I'll be back soon!!

101jnwelch
Jan 9, 8:19pm Top

I'm done, and enjoyed it. Jame was my favorite part.

102ronincats
Edited: Jan 11, 8:35pm Top

>99 ronincats: And by the horse's mouth, I mean Ms. Hodgell herself!

I gave in and read Dark of the Moon today--it was a rainy day, perfect for a beloved reread and Lapsang Souchang and beef stew. I will undoubtedly be so weak as to continue the series...

ETA and you actually do use the maps AND the character list here. But it's worth it!

103sibyx
Jan 10, 5:15pm Top

I admit I finished book one today and have ordered Dark of the Moon.

104richardderus
Jan 12, 10:01am Top

Okay, today marks chapters 5-8's spoilery debut.

1) Why does Jame get a kiss from Dally, a come-on from Melissand, and nothing whatsoever occurs thereafter? Not so much as an awkward conversation with her friend Dally?! I've been unexpectedly and unwantedly kissed by friends before and it makes a HUGE difference in the friendship!

2) Scramp's suicide is a bit extreme...

3) Jame's realization vis-a-vis the Trinity is really well handled and sets up what I hope will be a long-running thread through the book and series. The scene in the temple of Thingie the Lugubrious made me guffaw, I loved it.

4) There is no clear delineation that I can see between Jame's and the Talisman's identities. I'm not sure why the distinction is made when it seems to be without difference. Also, why is the Senetha dancer unrecognizable as Jame? That puzzled me as well.

5) Another cat. Ugh.

105ronincats
Edited: Jan 13, 8:31pm Top

Sorry for the silence here, friends. I've been reading. Halfway through book #5 at the moment. So hard to pull myself away.

Richard is quite right. Anything in the first half of the book is up for open discussion now, up to when Marc rescues Jame from an attack. Anything after that is open for discussion in spoiler text. I know a number of you have finished the book, and others are just starting, so hopefully we can find Balance.

>104 richardderus: Do we ever get told how old Jame is, Richard? I'd put her at about 16, realizing her years in Perimal Darkling have forever muddied the waters. And the Highborn and Kendar mature more slowly than us humans, consonant with their longer lifespan, I think. Jame is still asexual at this point in her life due both to her physical level of maturity and the greater demands for her emotional involvement in determining her identity. The emotional support of simple friendship and belonging are what she craves and needs at this point.

It's an extreme society. I didn't have a problem with it. Scamp is shown as very insecure, at the bottom of the pecking order and in dread of ridicule. And wasn't he dismissed by his guild master? That was his road to climbing out of the Lower City. I imagine he had very few resources, both emotional and otherwise, which made him very fragile.

Love the Gorgo side-plot likewise, always makes me smile to think of it. Yes, definitely a long-running thread.

I thought that, as the Talisman, she always danced masked. Also, the Senetha seems to confuse memories--Dally says "it should be some comfort to know that no one can remember afterward exactly what they see when you dance." That the Archiem recognizes her later in the book may be an inconsistency or just a mark of his power.

Well, yes, this is the cat I warned you was coming. A big one!

So, with the addition of Marcarn in Chapter 8, the cast of characters supporting Jame is complete, and what a cast it is! Which ones are your favorites and why, people?

ETA Highborn men come of age at 27.

106rretzler
Jan 13, 7:59pm Top

The only distinction that I can see between Jame and the Talisman is that I think she is called Talisman by the Thieves and Jame by everyone else. As Roni says, I would guess that she is unrecognizable as the Senetha dancer because that is the nature of the dance and what it does to the minds of those watching.

Good to know that all the talk of cats is going to lead to something. The Arrin-ken are catlike, so I guess the cat we are going to meet is one of the Arrin-ken? I wonder if Jorin will play into this somehow?

It also seems significant that Dally is the son of a god. Unless I missed it, the book doesn't explain how Dalis-sar, who was once a Kencyr, became a God. Is there some significance in this that we will learn later?

So, don't know if I should speculate, but because of Marc and Jame's conversation, I would say that Jame is the daughter of Ganth, and her brother, Tori, is Torisen Black Lord, which is why she has the ring, the sword shard, and the book. Or is that fairly obvious to everyone at this point?

I do have to agree with Nina, all of these G names are a little confusing. Is it Gerridon, the Master of Knorth, then Glendar, the Highlord of the Kencyrath, who took over from Gerridon, and then Ganth Gray Lord of Knorth, who was Glendar's heir? Have we learned the significance of these people yet (or have I forgotten in trying to read too many books at once?)

107sibyx
Edited: Jan 13, 8:45pm Top

Roni requested (rightly) that we bring this mini discussion over here where it belongs!

Richard asked me over on my thread:

Does it seem to you that, in the 35 years since this book's initial appearance, the fantasy genre has bloated up the page counts? I keep expecting that Hodgell will be delving into some relationships and expand on some events and she simply doesn't seem to care to.

Did that come across to you?

My response:
Every time I go to the 3rd floor of our house where we have the vast sf/f collection I am struck by how slim the older books are--with a few exceptions like The Macroscope, Dune and Stranger in a Strange Land and even they are relatively slim. Hmm the Arthur books had a certain heft, but really, none were as large as some of these doorstoppers we have to somehow manage nowadays.

So yes, it did indeed come across, but I also assumed it would be this way. Very little introspection or "character development" and all the things we seem to have added to the mix.

It was one of the things I debated when writing the last Hiero book -- whether to write it crisp (which I didn't think I could do) or bring it into the 21st century. I chose the latter, so it is a much longer book. Some of length wass so I could wrap up all the different story threads but some was showing how the characters develop and think about things. I couldn't see how anyone would be interested in a conclusion in the old style.

On the whole I like the new way, but I think some folks get a little carried away with detail and introspection.

On the other hand you sure can get through them fast!

I agree with Richard's response:
I keep thinking there's a happy medium somewhere and more authors need to seek it out.

Robert Jordan's name was mentioned. I can think of some others. . . .

What does anyone else think?

108ronincats
Jan 13, 8:47pm Top

From the Kencyrath wiki:

All the way back, since the founding of the Kencyrath thirty millenia ago, the Lord Knorth has also been the Highlord of the Kencyrath,9 and always a pure Knorth.10 After Gerridon fell, the Arrin-ken renamed Glendar as Highlord, and the modern Knorth trace themselves back to him.11

There have been around hundred and fifty generations since then.12


G names seem to run in the family. Ganth's father is Gerraint and his brother Greshan. Don't know how Torisen escaped the tradition.

Dally isn't the son of a god but his half-brother Men-dalis is. The list of characters calls Dalis-sar Dally's foster-father. It also says Dalis-sar was "drafted as the Sun-God of the New Pantheon" but you are right, we never learn the details. Maybe in the book she is working on now, which returns to Tai-tastigon.

I'll let others respond as to whether it is obvious to them or not, Robin. Thanks for contributing.

109sibyx
Edited: Jan 13, 8:53pm Top

As to your question Roni,
I rather like Marc in his supporting role. I like the blind ounce (sorry Richard) and in a weird way was interested in Bane, sorry he's gone, he had potential as a 'complicated' 'tormented' etc. character.

The Gorgo thing was done very well, esp. her shifting relationship with the priest, Loorgan (is that right? -- I'm in one place, the book in another!)

She's too mature emotionally to be anything less than sixteen, but physically, since people constantly think she's a boy, I assume she is physically not at all developed, except that she might be fairly tall and wiry?

110ronincats
Jan 13, 9:22pm Top

>107 sibyx: I also wanted the opportunity to say here, Lucy, that after the first two books (lots of action) the next three really do focus on developing relationships. I'm not sure, as I said above, that Jame has settled her identity enough at this point to build any deeper relationships.

Moving away from this book, I also remember the "old" days when I could read a science fiction or fantasy book in a night. When I look at those books on my shelves, they tended to come in at around 200 pages (Andre Norton, Heinlein's early work, Clarke, "Doc" Smith, Simak, Bradbury). I'm trying to find the # of pages in the 1965 Ballantine edition of The Fellowship of the Ring, and failing miserably, but I think the sheer size and scope of Tolkien's work influences most later fantasy writers.

111ronincats
Edited: Jan 13, 9:25pm Top

>109 sibyx: Short and wiry, actually. At least compared to other Highborn and Kendar. Marc, on the other hand, is huge even for a Kendar at 7 feet.

ETA Loogan

112ronincats
Jan 14, 12:03am Top

By the way, once you finish the book, go read this short story at Baen.

http://www.baen.com/talismanstrinket

It takes place immediately after the close of God Stalk.

113rretzler
Jan 14, 12:38am Top

>108 ronincats: Thanks, Roni.

As an explanation for my thoughts - and not to quibble - in this passage:
"Oh, the usual way," Dally had said lightly. "My mother was a handmaiden in his temple in Tai-abendra. Actually, I wasn't born until after she'd left to marry a local tradesman, but she arranged for my adoption so I and Mendy, who's a true god's son, would be full brothers."
I interpreted this to mean his mother was somehow pregnant by Dalis-sar (which would have made Dally Men-dalis' half-brother) and after his adoption, he would have been his full brother. It does say, though, that Men-dalis is a true god's son. It also says in the list of characters that Dally is Men-Dalis' half-brother, which also made me think that they must have first been related by blood (i.e. both having the same father.) It would seem to me if they were not related by blood, that Dally would be his adoptive brother. In the long run, I guess it doesn't really matter, though - not important.

Finished it this evening! Fantastic book!

114ronincats
Jan 14, 12:43am Top

>113 rretzler: Both have the same mother, so they are related by blood. And I'd forgotten about the adoption.

115rretzler
Edited: Jan 14, 12:50am Top

>105 ronincats: As to favorites, of course, I liked Jame.

I liked Bane because he was such a match for Jame, and I think they respected each other whether or not he was her half-brother. I hope he's not really gone, but will come back in a future book as it seemed like it was going to be set up that way until the end.

I also liked Cleppetty. She seemed like a level-headed, down-to-earth person who provided Jame with some guidance and affection, which I think Jame needed.

Last, I liked Penari. I hope we haven't seen the last of him. Even though he came off as a semi-comedic character, I think he was likely the most intelligent of all the characters. He certainly had a lot of tricks up his sleeve and he was able to keep himself out of the politics of the Thieve's Guild. I think Jame could still learn a lot from him.

116rretzler
Jan 14, 2:57am Top

>114 ronincats: Ah, makes sense. I didn't remember reading they had the same mother. Thanks!

117richardderus
Jan 14, 10:32am Top

My own favorite character, through the end of chapter 8, is Cleppetty. She's a wonderful mix of loving, stern, accepting, and tactfully demanding.

Her Big Reveal to Jame about Tubain is superbly handled and wonderfully explained.

118sibyx
Jan 14, 1:35pm Top

Oh yes, that is marvelously well done.

119swynn
Jan 15, 12:20am Top

I'm with Richard on Dally's kiss: I'm still expecting Dally or Jame to find an opportunity to say, "Um, about that ..." and am surprised to hear it's not going to happen?

The only thing bugging me right now is that the story feels a bit episodic. I'm not sure which storyline is the main thread: Skyrrman's threat to aB'tyrr? The Guild's political drama? The whatever-it-is chasing Jame that seems to be taking its time in catching up?

120benitastrnad
Jan 15, 3:57pm Top

#107

I think that in general fantasy has seen an explosion in the size of the books. Few authors write a single stand alone novel any more. They are always series and the larger the books the better.

I just finished reading Strange the Dreameri by Laini Taylor and this novel clocked in at 536 pages. It needed an editor. This novel was written as a YA novel and there are pages of description of the discovery of the first kiss. In context of it being a YA novel that is OK, but in terms of the novel these repetitious pages should have been cut.

I think that there are two problems with fantasy novels today. The first is no editors. Publishers have cut their editing staff to the bone and beyond. That makes for poorer quality in novels all the way around. The other problem is that editors often have a hard time deciding what needs to be in a work of fantasy in order to build a world. Editors know that most likely the novel will be a series and so they decide to leave things in the first novel - knowing it is superfluous to that novel - but knowing that it will be needed in some subsequent novel to be published at a later date. Authors want to keep control of the plot and that means keeping control of the worlds they created. They don’t want to deal with the Star Trek kind of problems where some others will have control of the story line. Add to that fans who come into series now-a-days with their own ownership claims. Fans can be quite demanding if they don’t like what happens because it doesn’t mesh up with timelines or plots they don’t mid filling blog and other social media outlet accounts with their opinions.

I think all of this makes novels longer than they need to be. In paraticular fantasy novels. Science Fiction doesn’t seem to be as prone to this problem.

121sibyx
Jan 15, 7:38pm Top

>120 benitastrnad: Great post! The editing piece is a real shame. As I understand it, the publishing industry, like the airlines, skates just ahead of bankruptcy, firms generally depending on a few 'sure thing' celebrity writers. For the rest, I think, they can take the risk of publishing a lot of genre books, but only as long as they keep the overhead very low (e.g. no editing, no perks) in the hopes that some will succeed reasonably well and the very few will achieve stardom and bring in the money. My guess is that the writers out there who we admire the most do their own meticulous editing and get the help they need even before submission because they aren't going to let a book out that isn't the best they can do. Writers rely now on other writers and, frankly, on spouses and friends willing to spend time on a manuscript for, say, a good dinner or a mention, or just because.

Roni helped me hugely with the post-apoc. book I've written that is currently languishing at an agency (at least I've gotten that far!) so she is a sterling example of this helpful network.

This has nothing to do with God Stalk, apologies! When everyone gets to the end there will be more to say!

122rretzler
Jan 16, 12:53am Top

>121 sibyx: It's interesting to get a take on the publishing industry. It seems easy to see that editing has gone by the wayside, I can only think of a handful of books where there isn't something that has slipped through that shouldn't have. Unfortunately, I also think since grammar isn't taught the same way in schools as it once was, the younger editors may not catch as many mistakes as the older ones. Just reading the emails from my sons' teachers is enough to make me crazy!

123souloftherose
Jan 16, 5:25am Top

>119 swynn: I agree about the story feeling quite episodic. I liked it but did wonder at times if the author was trying to cram too many different ideas into one novel.

124sibyx
Jan 16, 8:30am Top

>123 souloftherose: Yeah, my guess is that Hodgell had been "worldbuilding" as it is called for awhile and just couldn't help stuffing everything into book 1. I expect book 2 will be more novelly as she gets better at that part of it, not just setting up this whole big complicated scenario.

This leads me, though, to one quibble with some new books. People who've spent huge amounts of time gaming or d&d'ing (also watching a lot of action movies) have a different way of approaching telling a story. It's not as intuitive, or surprising, or . . . free -- there's a looking over one's shoulder to see who's watching feeling about it all. I am presently reading The Invisible Library series and while I love it, I also have a sense of it being almost too organized! Too much with an eye for "could this be made into a role-play game" going on.

I could be completely full of baloney, by the way.

125richardderus
Jan 16, 11:36am Top

>124 sibyx: I think you're probably not baloneyized, Lucy, the genesis of The Expanse universe is an excellent example of that. Ty Franck was in a D&D coven or whatever that George RR Martin was running and got the idea for a campaign (?) that turned into dozens of notebooks crammed full of details and minutiae.

I read the first novel and was badly let down by the sense it gave me of being weighted down by *stuff* to the point I couldn't raise my head for fear of being conked by another fleetingly mentioned but fascinating and development-worthy detail.

126richardderus
Jan 16, 11:37am Top

>124 sibyx: which is, I forgot to say, the reason I enjoy the TV version so very much. It edits ruthlessly to tell the story it needs to tell.

127swynn
Jan 16, 10:39pm Top

>124 sibyx: Interesting. I've been pondering something like this in reflecting on my response to Becky Chambers's Wayfarers series. I have read the first two books with a mostly negative response, but so many others have loved it that I can't help wondering what's wrong with me -- am I reading wrong?

Well, maybe. It doesn't develop the way I expect a novel to do, and it lacks the dramatic tension I expect -- the books are, as you say, not "novelly". Probably that means it's doing something wrong (sez I), but maybe it's just doing something *different*. And if the difference is working for others then I'd probably appreciate the work better on its own terms. May be the problem is I don't know how to read whatever kind of book it is (where did everyone else learn?)

FWIW, I was a D&D player as my tastes lay in the cradle, so that may explain a lot.

128sirfurboy
Jan 17, 5:50am Top

>127 swynn: I haven't read the books in question so my comments will be general, but still I know where you are coming from. I have read a lot of books that people rave about, and yet I find my response is negative, and the common thread is that the writers of these books are probably doing something very clever and innovative, but on the way they have forgotten about the tried and trusted core of a good story.

There was one I read a few years ago where it was clear that the author wanted to create an insipid hero who saunters through life without really noticing it or doing anything special. The result was no doubt an amazing social commentary... but you can imagine how boring a read it was!

One non traditional structure I did like, however, was Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell. I liked the writing and the novelty of it, but still, it could only capture my interest once. If anyone else wrote a novel this way, I doubt I would bother with it (and same is true of the film version).

129humouress
Edited: Jan 17, 7:22am Top

>107 sibyx: >110 ronincats: I noticed that a while ago; my (sadly, very few) books from the 80s and 90s are much slimmer. I sort of assumed that fantasy was a side-lined genre and authors were given a maximum page count, so they didn't have page-time to flesh out characters, motivations etc. Then writers like Robert Jordan (Wheel of Time) came along and things took off, so there are fewer limitations on page count.

When I initially joined the 75ers, I was remembering the 'old days' when I, too, could zip through a book. :0)

>113 rretzler: My interpretation of Dally's ancestry was initially the same as yours, Robin. However, this time round, knowing that he is not the true son of Dalis-sar, I decided his father is someone else. (And then it gets a bit hazy.)

ETA: is there going to be a thread for Dark of the Moon? It'd be nice to continue this group read.

130sibyx
Jan 17, 8:46am Top

>129 humouress: I'm all for it!

>127 swynn: and >128 sirfurboy: A great discussion! We all agree, I think, that tastes in sf/fantasy have been shifting--not everyone is comfortable with it. My general feeling is that the speculative genre has exploded old boundaries so not only do you get these wonderful hybrids -- some reaching into other genre fiction, from detective to romance -- and others that push a little way into the concerns and turf of the "serious" writers of fiction--who also push back and invade the speculative fiction turf. (David Mitchell, for example, I catalog him as a contemporary fiction writer even with the spec. elements that creep into all his novels.) So nowadays when you pick up a new sf or fantasy novel you don't know what it will be! The "gaming" type novel, with less character development and more action is probably closest to the traditional forms? Chambers is writing cosy sf, I would say, tackling a few issues (life crammed together in a space ship, AI rights, gender stuff) in a novel environment. So there is a problem to solve, some action, but the real action happens in the character's attitudes because of the situation. I think books like Chambers are what give rise to the stupid articles about 'how women are ruining spec. fiction' which is silly since there is room for everybody to write and read what they like best!

Sorry if I'm droning on.

131richardderus
Jan 17, 9:53am Top

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is interesting to me for the responses it's getting from all different corners of the fandom.

I'm slowly working through it, not because I don't like it but because I do and don't want to miss things by ripping through it. I'm enjoying "cosy SF" which term is genius, Roni.

As to women ruining SF, might one inquire if Andre Norton, James Tiptree, Jr., CL Moore, et alii, ruined SF with their lack of a Y chromosome? Sweeping Generalizations are okay as a means to spark a conversations (pace tedious axe-grinders who lead with "you're wrong, and here's why") but have never panned out as accurate and complete arguments in my experience.

And yes, before some tedious fact-checker says it, that was a Sweeping Generalization and no, it wasn't made without awareness of that fact.

132rretzler
Jan 17, 4:29pm Top

>129 humouress: Glad to know I wasn't alone, Nina. I honestly thought that Dally was going to be a more long-term character, and that his parentage might be something important. I certainly got that one wrong.

133richardderus
Jan 17, 9:09pm Top

>105 ronincats: I found it. Torisen Black Lord is a leader among the Kencyr and he's "in his mid-thirties" according to Marc at the very,very end of chapter 8. Kencyr men "come of age" at 27 per the wiki.

He's Jame's twin. So she's in her mid-thirties. And somehow she's boyish and slender. And she has had no sort of sexual awakening. Never says boo to Melissand or Dally about coming on to her, and the author gives us a comedy line about something in the air and maybe Boo will try it on.

This is hinky.

134richardderus
Jan 17, 11:09pm Top

Finished chapter 11! Let the reindeer games begin. Good night.

135justchris
Jan 17, 11:20pm Top

>133 richardderus: Jame's not in her 30s but more like late teens. They are twins but have aged differently. It's one of the big paradoxical mysteries of the series. My impression is she's kinda weirded out by suddenly getting all this sexual/romantic attention suddenly, plus really uncomfortable with what her public dancing is calling up, and I think she just can't deal.

Highborn (both genders) are considered legal adults at 27. Arrin-ken are described as nigh immortal. Marcarn in his 90s (I think) is solidly middle-aged for a Kendar. Three races, not necessarily the same demographic trends.

136justchris
Jan 17, 11:22pm Top

>112 ronincats: Thanks for sharing that story. I had never seen it before. Certainly casts an interesting new light on events and motivations in God Stalk.

137richardderus
Jan 18, 8:44am Top

>135 justchris: How is it possible for a twin to be a different age from the other twin? Tori/Torisen is Jame's twin. If he is in his mid-30s, so is she by definition.

138ronincats
Edited: Jan 18, 11:26am Top

Nonetheless, Chris is right, my dear. It becomes a major plot point in later books. As Jame regains some of her memories, we learn that after Ganth expelled her, she crossed over into and was raised in Perimal Darkling, which is NOT Rathillien and where time moves differently. Trust me, Jame is as perplexed by it as you, if not more, because she has more emotional involvement.

ETA sorry for not being here. Yesterday was haircut, prep, eating out, and HAMILTON! And I'm on my way to pottery class now. After that, I'll be around.

139richardderus
Jan 18, 11:27am Top

>138 ronincats: Okay, that gets explained later, but for now it's just awkward and ungainly. It's not my favorite book so far, I must say.

140rretzler
Edited: Jan 18, 3:11pm Top

>112 ronincats: Roni, somehow I totally missed the short story you shared! Thanks so much. I almost wish Patches had gone with Jame and Marc. And how very intriguing about her abilities and those of her siblings. I hope we see more of her.

I also noticed on Baen that there is another short story in the Kencyrath chronicles available Songs of Waste and Wood. Do you happen to know where it falls in the series?

ETA Hope you had a great time at Hamilton!

141jnwelch
Jan 18, 3:18pm Top

I share the perplexed feelings about Dally. Not the way I thought that was going to go. Maybe that's a good thing.

>138 ronincats: I couldn't resist reading the spoiler, and I'm glad I did, Roni. I find that encouraging for further reading of the series.

142rretzler
Jan 18, 3:52pm Top

Anyone interested in the short story collection Blood and Ivory please note - I looked for it on Amazon today - the paperback prices start at $26 and the hardback at $140. However, you can purchase the ebook on Baen.com for $6.99.

After reading and enjoying the short story that Roni shared, I started investigating the Kencyrath short stories on the wiki. It appears that the ss, A Matter of Honor, published in 1977, was written before God Stalk and forms the basis of Chapter 9. I believe Bones also takes place during God Stalk (Roni, please correct me if I am wrong about that.) Both of them can be found in Blood and Ivory.

More information on the short stories can be found here.

143justchris
Jan 18, 4:15pm Top

>137 richardderus: Think about in terms of the theory of relativity. If someone was out on a spaceship traveling FTL then returned to their place of origin, the passage of time for them is different than that on the planet, say. Hence all the SF stories involving someone being on a space voyage for a few years, yet a couple of centuries go by dirtside. It's exactly that disparate passage of time (and concomitant cultural shifts) that forms such a huge part of Joe Haldeman's The Forever War.

144ronincats
Edited: Jan 18, 5:12pm Top

Back from pottery...


And you preceded me, Robin. "Songs of Waste and Wood", in particular, occurs before but will best make sense if read AFTER the second book, Dark of the Moon. And yes, "Bones" takes place during Jame's apprenticeship with Penari.

Here is more info about the short stories found in Blood and Ivory. And I bought the Meisha Merlin edition for $16 back in 2002 AND you remind me, Robin, that in my rereading of the series, I have not yet reread these. Thank you!

"Hearts of Woven Shadow"
Surrounding the death of Gerraint and the ascension of Ganth to the Highlord's seat. Parts were incorporated into To Ride a Rathorn and Bound in Blood.
"Lost Knots"
An unfinished letter by Kinzi Keen-Eyed found after the massacre of the Knorth ladies. Parts are included in Bound in Blood and Honor's Paradox.
"Among the Dead"
Jame and Torisen at seven years old in The Keep, and Jame's casting out.
"Child of Darkness"
the first written story concerning Jame; not considered canon.
"A Matter of Honor"
ended up being a chapter in God Stalk
"Bones"
a short story with Jame in Tai-tastigon
"Stranger Blood"
a short story involving Jame, later than any published novel so far
"A Ballad of the White Plague"
a Gothic Sherlock Holmes short story.

145justchris
Jan 18, 4:20pm Top

>144 ronincats: Beautiful as always. Did it pass kitty inspection?

"Bones" is the only short story I read previously as it was included in the Dark of the Gods omnibus published by Meisha Merlin. By the time I found out about Blood and Ivory, I couldn't find it anywhere. Sigh.

>142 rretzler: Thanks for sharing the info on the collection. Maybe I'll look it up, though I have not yet made the jump to e-readers beyond occasionally borrowing someone else's while away from home. But seeing all the stuff that Barbara Hambly has out in digital format only suddenly makes it seem a more appealing proposition.

146richardderus
Jan 18, 4:29pm Top

>143 justchris: I accept that there's some sort of magical explanation and shrug at this point, Chris. It's a niggling dissatisfaction with the storyline, more irksome than the cat's abandonment being built up and then dropped but less than the whole Dally thing.

147ronincats
Edited: Jan 18, 4:37pm Top

One final note on Dally's parentage, esp. for Nina in >129 humouress:.
"Oh, the usual way," Dally had said lightly. "My mother was a handmaiden in his temple in Tai-abendra. Actually, I wasn't born until after she'd left to marry a local tradesman, but she arranged for my adoption so I and Mendy, who's a true god's son, would be full brothers."

So Dally's mom was a temple prostitute, basically, who got pregnant by the god--not an unusual occurrence in Tai-tastigon. But she later left that profession and married a tradesman, who was then Dally's father.

148ronincats
Edited: Jan 18, 5:03pm Top

Continued catching up from earlier messages and general exposition:

When I proposed this book for discussion, I did not expect that everyone was going to like it to the extent that I do, or maybe even like it at all. As mentioned, it is not a tightly plotted, single story-line type of novel--it explores and meanders and even goes down a few blind alleys. What I find tantalizing and mysterious and making me want to explore further is irritating readers who prefer more consistency. That is perfectly fine--in fact, that is great, because it makes a basis for discussion and appreciating others' points of view.

I find it interesting that, so far at least, it is male readers who think Jame's response to Dally's kiss (or lack thereof) is problematic. For context, it is a sudden grab right before she embarks on a particularly dangerous task which may well kill her. Her immediate response, as she girds up for that task immediately afterwards:
She stared after him, incredulous, than pushed the incident to the back of her mind. Putting on her dancer's mask, she crossed the bridge.

Later, There must be something in the air, Jame thought as she regained the street. First Dally and now this lady. Who next? Boo? Could anything be more evocative of her disinterest?

I read Jame's relationships with Dally and Canden as her first peer friendships in her life, after being separated from her twin at age 7. She grew up with no other children, really no normal relationships, and, as the people of the Res aB'tyrr become like a family to her, these are her pals who share her interests and activities. I don't think that I, in this situation, would be very interested in changing that for quite a while. And frankly, it's such a relief to have an interesting book that DOESN'T have the teenage female protagonist become part of a romantic triangle that I don't mind it at all. Also note Jame's body image--she doesn't see herself as at all attractive, definitely not girly, and her physical attributes are what her father cursed her for and threw her out of the household into the wilderness. "Dirty! Filthy!" I'd say she's got some other issues to work through first.

149ronincats
Jan 18, 5:21pm Top

So, discussion is open through Chapter 11 now. Richard, what did you think of where Jame's relationship with Loogan went?

If only we saw more of them, Tubain/ Abernia would be one of my favorite characters.

Jorin will accompany Jame throughout the remaining books. And I think that Hodgell, unlike some but very much like me, just likes cats.

150richardderus
Jan 18, 5:26pm Top

>148 ronincats: I expected Jame to DISlike the kiss Dally laid on her and respond negatively.

>149 ronincats: If y'all like cats so much, where's the outrage that, once Jame realizes that Jorin is "seeing" only through her eyes, that she abandons him to hunt as best he can with no sight at all while returning to feed him as and when she can? *I* found that really off-putting and my lack of regard for the animals is well-established!

151rretzler
Edited: Jan 18, 6:07pm Top

>145 justchris: Chris, if you buy the ebook at Baen, I believe you can read it online instead of downloading it to a reader. I purchased it this afternoon and am looking now at the book's page on Baen. It gives a myriad of options - you can read it online, have it emailed to you and download it in RTF format (which you could then open in a word processing program, plus all of the different formats for various readers. So it would be available to you, as long as you could stand reading it on your computer and not having a paper copy.

>147 ronincats: So, Roni, this is what I was saying - it seems to me then that Dally's biological father is Dalis-Sar, which is why I thought he was a god's son. However, today when I was reading The Talisman's Trinket, it says
...Dalis-sar who was rumored to be not only Kencyr but Men-dalis’s father and whom Dally proudly claimed as his stepfather.
I'm very confused now, but but it really doesn't matter, since we know Dally is now dead - unless he somehow comes back to life. I don't know enough about Hodgell to know if this is something she would do.

>148 ronincats: >150 richardderus: It may be, perhaps, that this is a typical female response to a kiss in this circumstance. From the female point of view, a kiss from a male she considers to be a friend only might be best left unremarked, unless the male continues this pattern of behavior. If the female were to make a big deal of a one-off event, to say that she considered the male a friend only, it is possible that she is risking losing a good friend by harming his male pride. (Sorry, guys!) If the behavior continues, then the female may want to disabuse the male of the notion that there is anything more to the relationship than just friends.

I had a lot of male friends growing up - I was not interested in most of what the girls were talking about - makeup, who did what to whom, basic teenage girl talk, etc. The boys had much more interesting conversations about everything. With the boys, I could be myself, whereas I felt I always had to be on my guard around the judgemental girls. So I agree with Roni, that these are just peer relationships, no matter how much we may want to see a romance developing. Frankly, I too find it refreshing that there is not a romantic relationship developing in the book. I get very frustrated when an author tries to force a romance into what otherwise is a good book. 😜

>150 richardderus: I was a little distressed by this. But I don't think she abandons Jorin, I believe she goes back each evening to help him catch food. She is merely getting him out of the city where he has a place to roam.

152rretzler
Jan 18, 6:27pm Top

I found this passage in Chapter 8 to be particularly interesting
...Jame had noticed that the most powerful of these beings were the ones with the most dedicated followers. This suggested to her that, here at least, faith might create reality....In effect, had the Three-Faced God created the Kencyrath, or was it the other way around?

And another intriguing passage in Chapter 11
Where had she done this before, and with whom?...a vast chamber as dark as this place was now, surrounded by blazing tripods, a canopied bed, a man dancing, his face...no!
This is the second or third time she has had a vague memory of a curtained bed and a man.

I do like how Jame's relationship with Loogan changes in the book.

I had highlighted quite a few passages in these chapters, but since I've finished the book, I guess my questions have more or less been answered. It's a little frustrating that some of them have not, but it does make me want to read the rest of the series.

153ronincats
Jan 18, 7:21pm Top

>150 richardderus: I think it came totally out of the blue, as far as Jame was concerned (incredulous!). "And then he was gone." So he wasn't there to react TO, and Jame was in the middle of some urgent business.

I'm with Robin (>151 rretzler:). She's trying to foster more independence, and also hoping the Arrin-ken she senses in the vicinity might step in to give him a hand, since she knows she can't meet all of Jorin's needs as things stand.

>151 rretzler: Oops, still not clear as I could have been, I guess. First, Dally's mother is a temple handmaiden at Dalis-sar's temple. He impregnates her. The result is Men-dalis. Later, Dally's mother retires. She gets married to a tradesman. They have a child. That is Dally. Still, she arranges for Dalis-sar to adopt Dally so the boys can be full brothers.

>145 justchris: Robin is right-on about the various ways of accessing the electronic short stories. And it is a lot easier to read short stories on-line on the computer than it is full-length books, heaven knows.

>152 rretzler: Good eye, Robin. Those are probably two of the three most important on-going themes running throughout the series. And yes, unanswered questions are definitely continued into the series. If all your questions were answered, we wouldn't need any more books, right?

I am not adverse to creating a thread for further reading in the series, although I am not sure how many people want to continue.

154Berly
Jan 18, 7:26pm Top

I would probably continue with the series, but not right away. Later in the year...?

155ronincats
Jan 18, 7:31pm Top

Oh, yeah. I would make it totally unstructured and open time-frame. Just kind of a year-long series read sort of thing.

156richardderus
Jan 18, 7:41pm Top

The existence of the archive/library is the best part of this section of the book! Gorgo's resurrection is deeply funny and very satisfying at the same time. Loogan, poor thing, is still a putz but at least one whose one shredded tatter of dignity is restored to him. Jame's reconstruction of the undebased ritual of worship is clearly prefiguring her later career path. Her powers are mystical and practical, making her a more satisfying character to follow than the standard Adolescent Exceptionalism Case Study one gets in so many fantasy novels.

157rretzler
Jan 18, 9:07pm Top

>153 ronincats: Roni, I guess I'm just interpreting that passage about Dally's birth differently.

>153 ronincats: Dang, now I have to go back and figure out what the other one was!

I am also planning to read the series, but I'm with Kim, it will be later in the year for me as well, so I do like the open time frame. On the other hand, I thought the structure was very good as it organized me; it was easier to discuss knowing that everyone was pretty much at the same place.

158humouress
Jan 18, 10:49pm Top

For Richard and like-minded folks ;0)

159swynn
Edited: Jan 19, 1:26pm Top

>148 ronincats: Thanks for the insight into the Jame/Dally dynamic, Roni!

I think I may have given the impression that I'm not enjoying the book, which is not the case. I'm especially loving the city, and I'm (1) a bit disappointed to hear that the next several books take place elsewhere, and (2) curious to explore what other locations can be created by the author who created Tai-Tastigon. In any case, so far I'm up for more. (The Becky Chambers series is another story, but one for another thread.)

The story is developing in a way that doesn't meet my expectations, but that's fed some ongoing ruminations on why I have those expections -- and enlightenment on that has been welcome.

(Also, as a romance-averse reader, I don't miss the love triangle one bit.)

160sibyx
Edited: Jan 19, 12:22pm Top

>131 richardderus: Um, I think it was I used the term 'cosy sf'? at >130 sibyx:? I think? (I'm never sure of anything anymore.)

There are articles and books in abundance called "How women are ruining science fiction" or some variation thereof. I have a whole book on the topic somewhere or other. I'll get the title for you - Lightspeed Magazine, June 2014 (Women Destroy Science Fiction special issue) (Volume 49)

Also back to add that I have Dark of the Moon and will begin in it February! Would love another thread. I'm swamped presently in my ROOTS books -- curiously and very a propos to this discussion--one of them is Hardy's Jude the Obscure with the mercurial Sue Bridehead. She wants to be friends with men, intellectually and is deeply frustrated by dealing with having to deal with romance. Here is what I read today before coming here as Sue tries to explain herself to Jude: "My life has been entirely shaped by what people call a peculiarity in me, I have no fear of men, as such, nor of their books. I have mixed with them--or or two of them particularly--almost as one of their own sex. I mean I have not felt them as most women are taught to feel--" I would say Jame fits this model. Perhaps P.C. as well? I know I do.

161richardderus
Jan 19, 2:23pm Top

>160 sibyx: To you the credit for the coinage, Lucy.

I'm amused by the Lightspeed Magazine conceit. I'll have to check that out.

162justchris
Jan 19, 3:14pm Top

>160 sibyx: There are articles and books in abundance called "How women are ruining science fiction" or some variation thereof.

I first encountered this attitude when I was in high school when a fellow SF enthusiast told me women couldn't write good SF because they "put too much culture in." I was absolutely floored. I might have been gushing about Golden Witchbreed at the time. I can't remember now. Not surprisingly, we did not remain friends. So I guess G.R.R. Martin et al have been feminized or something? Bullshit, start to finish. And pretty funny considering how several of us readers accustomed to current fantasy books are reacting to this particular vintage story from 35 years ago as a little lacking in character motivations and development and the rounding off of plot elements. To me, it reads pretty much as the fantasy novel equivalent of a standard action movie. Fast-paced, mostly light-hearted, enough characterization to bond with the story, enough heft to remember more than an hour after finishing. Notice how movies have progressed in the same time period? Longer viewing times, more character development, etc. Or at least more splashy special effects.

Getting ready to resume the next set of chapters of God Stalk this weekend...

163quondame
Edited: Jan 19, 4:44pm Top

I just finished. I loved the bit with Gorgo and Loogan, but the many distances between what is happening to Jame - her training with Penari and her life at the inn after the second chapter, and particularly the total dryness of her relationship to her dancing, kept me from attaching to the story. Events that seem immanent toward the beginning don't occur until the end, and the year + of looming threat is not communicated to men.

164ronincats
Jan 19, 10:28pm Top

>157 rretzler: No, Robin, don't go looking for the third theme! It hasn't been broached yet.
>158 humouress: That is a very interesting cover, Nina. If the figure only had black hair, it could be part of the final scene in the book, or the first of the next book.
>159 swynn: Yes, the city is a wonderful character in itself, which is one reason I'm excited the 9th book is returning there. I'm interested in seeing which threads are picked up then. (>156 richardderus: I wonder if the archive will have any part in it, Richard.) I'm glad you are enjoying it, Steve.
>160 sibyx: Sorry, I meant to make that correction, Lucy, but was missing in action at the time. Interesting point re the Hardy character!
>162 justchris: Yes, I think it is important to remember that this book is 35 years old when responding to it, Chris.
>163 quondame: Susan, can you clarify that a bit? I understand you felt distanced from the narrative but not sure I understand why.

165quondame
Jan 20, 2:27am Top

>164 ronincats: Dancing is all about connecting with music and others and the dance scenes all seem to be narrated as though not only is someone else dancing, but it's being told through a third person. I didn't feel any connection to a time line - it's just OK, I didn't make it on that caravan, I guess I'll stay, things happen, more things happen, people die, but oh it's my fault this god died so let's do something. Jame's connection to Gorgo & Loogan resonated more with me than any other. Granted, I usually finish a book within 3 days of starting and may have disconnected while I was in other stories.

166ronincats
Jan 20, 1:17pm Top

>165 quondame: Thanks, now I get it.

Jame is deeply conflicted about the dancing--she was taught the Senethar as a method of fighting, its other use is still buried in her memory and deeply inappropriate for this setting, and she doesn't like its effect on her audience. She wouldn't do it at all if not for her deep sense of responsibility to the people of the inn.

Others have commented on the storyline being episodic, and it is. It will continue to be, although not always to this extent; I think that is just Hodgell's style. It doesn't bother me as long as I am invested in the characters and interested in their activities but mileage definitely varies on this. It is interesting to me to see what events end up being important later in the series vs. which are dead ends, but that requires investment in the whole series. I knew at the outset that there would be many who will enjoy this book but not move on--after all, that's the situation I was unwillingly in for 12 years after reading this one, and I think Tai-tastigon is worth it in its own right as a singleton book.

167RBeffa
Edited: Jan 20, 10:47pm Top

>148 ronincats: I'm going to just briefly (I hope) comment for a moment. I'm one of the few who is not loving this book - I've set it aside a couple times and after reading comments here have picked it back up and will probably see it through - I'm almost at the end of chapter 7 so roughly half way done. I just don't care for the storytelling style and I can't precisely state why it bugs me either but I think Roni has rather captured things well - I want a more straightforward story. But there is more than that.

Let me give an example. So much was thrown at me the reader in the first chapter I felt overwhelmed and then jerked around when chapter 2 started. And really irked. What irked me? Something that irks me in any book. At the end of the first chapter Jame seems like she could be close to death and certainly ready to at least lose her arm as she stumbled around in a fever dream. In fact I was surprised it hadn't already shattered and rotted off from everything happening or else turned her into the walking dead. But, magic magic she fell into a special sleep and magically healed.

I am rarely snarky but really feel like a snark talking like this about the book so many people are enjoying. In the end I come to the conclusion I had at the start - this really isn't my kind of book. I want too much logic in a story - I'm too analytical much of the time and just do not like when problems have (to me) magical fixes. I feel cheated by them.

Ok, snark off.

I do plan to continue reading the second half. I like the city and want to see what happens.

168ronincats
Jan 20, 10:53pm Top

>167 RBeffa: Sorry, forgive me for giggling. I do enjoy a strong opinion!

I don't know if it helps that it is a characteristic of both the Highborn and the Kendar, dwar sleep, and that it happens frequently in future books to all those characters after battle or other injuries. I'll grant you, it is convenient, but it is a racial characteristic, not a personal one.

Feel free to snark off as much as needed! And agreed, this is not an analytical, logical type of book. Much messier than that. Question: did you like the Fafnir and the Grey Mouser books, Lankmar and all that?

169RBeffa
Edited: Jan 20, 11:19pm Top

>168 ronincats: I was never a big fan of Fritz Leiber but I read and enjoyed some of his stuff. I liked Jack Vance a lot more. I must have read a Grey Mouser story or two years ago but I can't remember them. An old school friend asked me a year or two ago about the Mouser stories and how much he enjoyed them during our high school years but I just could not recall them.

170rretzler
Jan 21, 1:26am Top

>167 RBeffa: I don't fee that your comments are snarky at all. I, too, am a very logical and analytical person. I guess that's one reason that I read a lot of mysteries - I enjoy analyzing the plot to determine the murderer. When I read science fiction, I also want it to have some level of logic to it - although it does depend on the story. But when I read fantasy, I guess I just take it for granted that there is going to be an element of "magic" involved, and magic, I think is not logical.

I don't think Jame's ability to heal herself in dwar sleep rises to the level of a deus ex machina; I think this is our first hint that Jame is different from us. In this ability, the author is introducing us to a character who is a different race, and therefore has different characteristics - the ability to heal is just one of them. I guess that's why this is fantasy and not just fiction.

171RBeffa
Edited: Jan 29, 3:38pm Top

>170 rretzler: Thanks for your comments. I agree that Jame's ability to heal quickly doesn't rise to the deus ex machina level, esp so early in the story. The book seems to be a blend of fantasy and science fiction. The whole medieval setting we are presented with, even tho we are on another planet that isn't even Jame's home planet sets this as a fantasy setup (and of course all the god stomping going on). Jame's healing ability on the surface can be based on science. I was bugged because of the setup given to us - Jame's normal (super)healing ability which we are clued to isn't working - she has exhausted herself beyond her normal capacity and something is going wrong with her flesh. But then after collapsing, 13 days pass and she wakes up healed and hungry. Then she manages to promptly fall on over and then tumble down half a flight of stairs without consequences. OK, clearly not our kind of human. Improbable though it might be something like this could evolve, but I was bugged I think by the author serving it to us as a near death experience which even Jame was surprised to have survived.

So for me it wasn't so much the healing ability as the way the author is telling us the story. It seems to be the style of her storytelling. This dwar sleep thing was just sprung on us. Like magic. That's how I reacted anyway.

172humouress
Jan 21, 9:25am Top

>171 RBeffa: I think that dwar sleep is hinted at during the first chapter, before Jame arrives in Tai-Tastigon as she is fleeing from the haunts. Of course, I have read this book a few times before and it's only a slight hint. But Jame does have characteristics that mark her as super-human; her agility, her endurance, even her fingernails.

173streamsong
Jan 21, 12:21pm Top

I finished the book! And I liked it well enough that I have ordered the second.

I think I need to skim through quickly a second time after reading some of the comments here. :) I still have a bit of confusion in the last part, but I'll hold off my questions until everyone can discuss it without spoilers.

174rretzler
Edited: Jan 21, 6:17pm Top

>172 humouress: Nina, you're right, here is the passage:
...as a rule, Kencyrs either died outright or healed themselves quickly and well in the deep helplessness of dwar sleep. Jame had hardly slept at all in the past fortnight.


It seems to me that dwar sleep does come with some drawbacks, it is certainly not instantaneous since Jame was asleep 13 days. The next logical question would be how one would eat or drink in dwar sleep, but perhaps Kencyrs don't have the same requirements as humans.

While I was looking through my notes for that passage, I found something else in Chapter 1 that I had highlighted that intrigued me
"Jame...Jame Talissen," she stammered...
and
"Talisman...Talisman," the old man repeated querulously.
It was interesting that Penari misheard, or chose to mishear Jame's last name. I can't help but wonder if this is his way of getting her to look at herself in a different light. I seem to recall once or twice Jame thinking that terrible things happened to those around her. Perhaps Penari sees something that Jame does not, especially since it is brought up again
The b'tyrr, the Talisman - now she was called "luck-bringer" in two languages, neither of them her own.
What do others think? Does this have any significance?

175humouress
Edited: Jan 21, 8:16pm Top

I’ve finished, too, and am ready to go straight on to the next book, as I have the omnibus edition God Stalker Chronicles.

Regarding Jame’s age, a paragraph right at the end of the book states (don’t worry, no spoilers)
... she might find her long lost twin brother Tori - miraculously ten years older than herself. ... Perhaps time moved at a different pace beyond the Barrier, or even near it.


>174 rretzler: While we’re talking about things misheard, I’ve always thought the welcoming Res a’Btyrr was meant to evoke ‘Rest a Bit Here’.

PS: if anyone has listed God Stalk in the January TIOLI, which challenge have you put it under?

176rretzler
Jan 21, 11:41pm Top

>175 humouress: Nina, sometimes think I make things up when I read, perhaps its when I am reading late at night. That's probably why I highlight so much, so I can go back and figure out what really happened!

God Stalk is listed in the TIOLI under the Rolling WIKI challenge. I think there are several of us who have listed it, so its worth some points.

177rretzler
Jan 21, 11:43pm Top

If anyone keeps track of his or her short story reading, I added The Talisman's Trinket to LT. I had to estimate the number of pages based on the number of "locations" when I sent it to Kindle from baen.com. If anyone has a better idea of the number of pages, please feel free to change it - I estimated 19 pages.

178quondame
Jan 21, 11:50pm Top

>176 rretzler: I know my eyes/brain make things up - I occasionally realize I could not possibly have read the words I think I did and sure enough, something entirely different is on the page. I chalk it up to the remnants of my dyslexia and horrendous astigmatisms and hope it is only an occasional occurrence.

179humouress
Jan 22, 12:17am Top

>176 rretzler: I was referring to Penari mishearing Jame’s name.

I’ve always read it as ‘Res aB'tyrr’ but I felt that Hodgell was making a sort of pun to evoke the sense of security and sanctuary that the inn provides for its residents.

I’ll go and check out the TIOLI, thanks; this may be the most number of points I’ve ever had.

180swynn
Edited: Jan 22, 1:01am Top

I finished tonight, and am ready for more. I don't think it's a spoiler to say that I found the denouement satisfying.

I hadn't thought of the "Res aB'tyrr" pun but now that it's been mentioned I can't read it any other way.

I feel I'm probably missing something that was obvious to everybody else, but it's not exactly clear to me why Gorgo died. Did the manifestation use up his last little bit of energy; or did his meager appearance cause Loogan to lose his last little bit of faith, or something else?

181humouress
Jan 22, 3:57am Top

>180 swynn: I think it was that Loogan’s reaction to Gorgo’s appearance indicated he was disappointed or at least dismayed especially as the apparition seemed to have picked up the recent defect suffered by its idol and - as the many gods of Tai-Tastigon are sustained by the faith of their followers - this ‘disbelief’, as it were, was the last straw regarding his existence.

182sibyx
Edited: Jan 22, 10:19am Top

Love the pun!!!

It is a question -- and it is one of the aspects of the first book in a long series (or envisioned one) that torments the writers I think, just how much information can be divulged without being tedious. So these issues of Jame's age, her healing qualities etc. -- in other works of this type, I tend to give the writer the benefit of the doubt--and I usually reread the first 50-100 pages of the first book at least twice, more if necessary, while reading the book or at the end of it, to see what I may have missed in the 'in-clueing' as those in the trade call it. That is, in fantasy and sf there is a gleeful enjoyment of dumping the reader in medias res--that is-- into stuff (using the polite word) happening with little explanation. Part of the fun is supposed to be figuring it all out as the story evolves.

183ronincats
Jan 22, 3:01pm Top

>180 swynn: I'd agree with Nina that it is the priest's reaction to the animation of his god that finished the poor thing off. I don't think he was disappointed or dismayed--I think he was horrified!

184humouress
Edited: Jan 22, 10:58pm Top

Chiming in on the cover discussion, this is the cover on my book, which is the Baen omnibus edition released in 2010.



Though they've got her hair colour and length right, she is rather busty and, to my mind, looks about twenty years older and less athletic than I imagine her.

I've finished God Stalk and have posted my review over on my thread.

185sirfurboy
Jan 23, 4:55am Top

Going back to various earlier messages, I did not really think anything about the non reaction to the kiss. I also don't miss the love triangle thing. Nothing against those as a storyline, but they can be heavily overdone. Nice to see a book that does not rely on such things.

The somewhat non traditional structure of the book is interesting but also perhaps also somewhat prevents me from really getting behind this work. I think world building is great, and characters are well done. The prose is very good and there is enough action, but somehow it has not quite gripped me yet. I haven't finished it yet (but won't be long now) and often a good resolution can really make a book so I will hang in there before pronouncing my personal judgement on the book! (Although the question is only whether I would give this 4 or 5 out of 5. It is definitely worth reading).

186sirfurboy
Jan 25, 7:29am Top

So it is the 25th and we can start discussion chapters 12-14. As it happens I have only read to the end of chapter 12, but would like to finish the book tonight. I liked the administration of justice in chapter 12, as well as the miracle of rain. Maybe it felt a bit too easy... but then again everything was set up for it, so perhaps it is just things falling into place.

187sirfurboy
Jan 26, 5:32am Top

I have finished the book... and the last three messages in this thread are from me... so I presume everyone else finished before me!

188ronincats
Jan 26, 3:42pm Top

I know Ellen is not done yet, Stephen, and we haven't heard from a couple of others who were interested in the group read. You are right, that we can now discuss through the end of the book.

One of the things I enjoyed at the beginning of Chapter 9 is where Cleppity is "doing all she could to keep Abernia's usual ill-humor from endangering her hold on Tubain." "'Allied to a figment of someone else's imagination,'"

And Gorgo's resurrection?

And in these last chapters, many things come to a head. The issue between the inns. We see Penari in action. The elections. The untempling of the gods.

189humouress
Jan 26, 4:50pm Top

>188 ronincats: The untempling of the gods. Love that concept and the phrase :0)

190richardderus
Jan 27, 10:25pm Top

Okay, all done. Anyone here not au fait with the ending?

191ronincats
Jan 29, 1:15am Top

A couple of days here to wrap up comments on the book as a whole, peoples. Please chime in for some closure.

I think the ending is inevitable, and makes a good stopping place for those not interested in continuing. We know James is going to be looking for her people's land and her brother specifically. The plot lines are more linear in the next books, although we pick up Tori as a viewpoint character as well. The world-building continues to be outstandingly original, but I have to confess none of the other settings can match Tai-tastigan. I'm excited the new book will be returning, but lots happens in the Riverbank first.

192Berly
Jan 29, 3:20am Top

>190 richardderus: I am sad we are leaving Tai-tastigon, although not surprised. Definitely up for the second in the series at some point.

193rretzler
Jan 29, 9:55am Top

It seemed to me as the book went on that Dally became less of a factor in the story. By the time he was killed, I wasn't as emotionally invested in his character, although it is clear that Jame was. I think I was more saddened by the death of Bane.

Jame and Marc are certainly leaving Tai-tastigon in a bit of a shambles - I wonder who will become the leader of the Thieves' Guild?

194richardderus
Jan 29, 10:05am Top

I posted my review on my thread and as I say there, I'll read the next book in the series that's set in Tai-Tastigon. I'm just not invested in Jame's character.

195EBT1002
Jan 29, 10:12am Top

I finished the book yesterday and now I plan to go through this thread (this evening) and real all the spoilers. Here are my comments from my thread:

I'm not even going to try to summarize the plot of this old-school science fiction work. Rather, I want to capture my honest reactions. I enjoyed it and I understand why sci-fi is not my usual go-to fare. Early in the novel, during a context-establishing chase scene, I was sitting in my quiet house so caught up in the scene that I jumped when my phone pinged. It made me chuckle and gave me a preview of what the reading experience would be.

The plot is complicated, the characters slow to develop (or, more accurately, slow to develop into distinct beings), but the ride was fun. I felt like I was reading a video game (and I get that there is a strong relationship between SF and much of the modern video game territory), with one adventure leading to the next, discoveries of intrigue, deceit, and ancient secrets that illuminated one mystery only to lead to another.

The summary description at the end of the novel helped. Surprisingly, I was glad it is at the end of the book; at the beginning it would have been less meaningful. Will I read the next in the series? I'm undecided about that. If I do, Level Up!

196quondame
Edited: Jan 29, 2:01pm Top

>195 EBT1002: But, but, God Stalk isn't science fiction. No really, it's not. Fantasy, as is 90% of science fiction, but that doesn't mean that fantasy is science fiction. I can understand the video game feeling, though I would classify it close to the D&D inspired novels I've read.

197souloftherose
Jan 29, 2:31pm Top

I think of myself as someone who's read a lot of fantasy so I was surprised by how confused I was left feeling by lots of this book. Maybe I needed to just accept that a lot of things were left unexplained at this stage.

I loved the atmosphere of the first chapter but felt things lost momentum a little bit after that. There were lots of intriguing hints at things that I would have liked the author to explore more and I'm still totally confused by all the temples and the gods.

Roni mentioned on Mamie's thread that Dark of the Moon is more linear and I'm actually relieved to hear that. I'm pretty sure I will carry on with the series. It seems like a few of us are planning to carry on - do people want to carry on and read the next one as a group?

>193 rretzler: Good question on the Thieves' Guild! I feel like although Jame had good intentions I'm not sure the city has been left in a better position following her time in it.

>194 richardderus: Yes, Jame still feels like a bit of an unknown quantity to me too. Whether intentionally because of the memory loss or because Hodgell invested all the character in the city I'm not sure.

>195 EBT1002:, >196 quondame: Not science fiction to me either. It's tricky to define (and I tend to go on gut feel) but I'd say science fiction is fiction based on future scientific or technological advances (even if no-one knows if those advances are possible or not). The world of God Stalk seems to be based more on magic and gods so I'd say fantasy (although there are still lots of unanswered questions about who the Kencyrath are and where they came from).

198swynn
Edited: Jan 29, 5:29pm Top

Responding a little late, but thanks Nina and Roni for the interpretations of Gorgo's demise. Something like that was my favored hypothesis.

I'm going to miss Tai-Tastigon, though not so much that I'll skip intervening volumes to get there. I have Dark of the Moon on interlibrary loan, so I'll have to get to it within the next month. Or so. And would hang out in a thread for the purpose.

As for whether it's science fiction, I'm one who thinks "Star Wars" is a boundary case so Kencyrath is fantasy, no contest. But I think the original point was about the genre's relationship to video games, which I expect is valid either way.

199humouress
Jan 30, 12:30am Top

Definitely fantasy, for me.

I think the Kencyrath travel down the Chain of Creation through portals rather than spaceships (something like the alternative Earths in the Arrow-verse TV series); the method of creating them is what Ishtier wants access to. But I find it hard to bend my brain around alternative universe concepts, so I’m quite happy to have it as background information we don’t need to deal with.

As for video-gaming, I’ve never got past level 1 on anything :0)

200rretzler
Jan 30, 12:40am Top

Ah, the age-old question of whether something is science fiction or fantasy. I'm a little different than Susan >196 quondame: in that I always feel that fantasy is more narrowly defined than sci-fi. I fall more in line with Heather >197 souloftherose: in that I define fantasy as based on gods, magic and the supernatural - though I also base it on gut feel too, I would say. So God Stalk to me is definitely fantasy. I also agree with >198 swynn: - Star Wars, although it feels like sci-fi because of all of the tech and spaceships, has a fantasy element due to the Force, which seems very supernatural to me. I tend to define many things as sci-fi because science in some form is all around us, so I feel that sci-fi can be more loosely defined. For example, I would probably define The Hunger Games to be sci-fi because of the technology used in the games themselves, although many would likely disagree (and I'm fine with that.) Harder for me to define are things like dystopias, alternate histories, apocalypse and post-apocalypse, utopias, etc. - when in doubt, I guess just call it all speculative fiction!

It sounds like many of us are going to try to read Dark of the Moon sometime this year, but probably not until later. Would anyone be willing to try to set a month to do a group read? Perhaps April, or is that too soon?

201humouress
Jan 30, 12:57am Top

I’m all for continuing with the group read. As I have an omnibus edition I’d like to read Dark of the Moon sooner rather than later so I can reduce the teetering pile on my bedside table. I know a few people have finished it already and Roni mentioned on my thread that she wouldn’t be ready to set up a thread for Dark of the Moon until February.

I’d suggest we do a relaxed group read for whoever wants to continue with the series.

202ronincats
Edited: Jan 30, 4:23pm Top

I definitely see God Stalk as fantasy. I want to share some information about the major influence on this first book, as mentioned by Hodgell herself.

One classic sub-genre of fantasy is the sword-and-sorcery tale. The master of this was Fritz Lieber. From Wikipedia:

His legacy appears to have been consolidated by the most famous of his creations, the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories, written over a span of 50 years.6 The first of them, "Two Sought Adventure", appeared in Unknown, August 1939. They are concerned with an unlikely pair of heroes found in and around the city of Lankhmar. Fafhrd was based on Leiber himself and the Mouser on his friend Harry Otto Fischer, and the two characters were created in a series of letters exchanged by the two in the mid-1930s. These stories were among the progenitors of many of the tropes of the sword and sorcery genre. They are also notable among sword and sorcery stories in that, over the course of the stories, his two heroes mature, take on more responsibilities, and eventually settle down into marriage.

Some Fafhrd and Mouser stories were recognized by annual genre awards: "Scylla's Daughter" (1961) was "Short Story" Hugo finalist and "Ill Met in Lankhmar" (1970) won the "Best Novella" Hugo and Nebula Awards.14 Leiber's last major work, The Knight and Knave of Swords (1991), brought the series to a close while leaving room for possible sequels. In the last year of his life, Leiber was considering allowing the series to be continued by other writers, but his sudden death made this more difficult. One new Fafhrd and the Mouser novel, Swords Against the Shadowland, by Robin Wayne Bailey, did appear in 1998.

The stories were influential in shaping the genre and were influential on other works. Joanna Russ' stories about thief-assassin Alyx (collected in 1976 in The Adventures of Alyx) were in part inspired by Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, and Alyx in fact made guest appearances in two of Leiber's stories. Numerous writers have paid homage to the stories. For instance, Terry Pratchett's city of Ankh-Morpork bears something more than a passing resemblance to Lankhmar (acknowledged by Pratchett by the placing of the swordsman-thief "The Weasel" and his giant barbarian comrade "Bravd" in the opening scenes of the first Discworld novel). More recently, playing off the visit of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser to our world in Adept's Gambit (set in second century B.C. Tyre), Steven Saylor's short story "Ill Seen in Tyre" takes his Roma Sub Rosa series hero Gordianus to the city of Tyre a hundred years later, where the two visitors from Nehwon are remembered as local legends.22

Fischer and Leiber contributed to the original game design of the wargame Lankhmar—published in 1976 by TSR.23

So while God Stalk may have echoes of video games, it is because they are coming from the same source, not because Hodgell is a gamer.

Here's a synopsis of Ill-Met in Lankhmar, a prequel book published in 1995. You may see a few similarities. But note the dates--Hodgell wrote her book 13 years earlier. The similarities are due to the tropes of this particular sub-genre.

One murky night in Lankhmar, Fissif and Slevyas, members of the Thieves' Guild, steal valuable jewels from Jengao the gem merchant. Whilst returning to Thieves' House, they are ambushed and attacked by Gray Mouser and Fafhrd simultaneously, who steal the gems. Recognising kindred spirits, they agree to share the loot. They return to Mouser's lodgings, where Fafhrd is introduced to Mouser's woman Ivrian and Ivrian meets Fafhrd's woman, Vlana.

Somewhat drunk, Mouser persuades Fafhrd to join him in a quest to infiltrate the headquarters of the Thieves' Guild, in the guise of members of the Beggar's Guild. They are initially successful, but their disguise comes unstuck when their glib story is seen through by Krovas, Grandmaster of the Thieves, and the Beggarmaster. Fleeing, they return to Mouser's hovel, only to find to their horror that both girls have been killed and partially eaten by giant rats and by Slivikin, a fast-moving evil witch-beast conjured up by Krovas's warlock, Hristomilo.

In grief and anger, they return to Thieves' House and charge in, causing panic and chaos. They kill Hristomilo, then flee from the city.


Although God Stalk is very much an homage to Lieber, the rest of the series, as well as the other world-building, is very original. Hodgell says she has grown a lot as a writer since this first book.

203ronincats
Jan 30, 3:02pm Top

On February 1, I will set up a continuation thread here for continuing the Kencyr series, for the series rather than by individual book unless people want differently. Similar to our year-long Vorkosigan read, my idea is simply a place for people to discuss their reading without any constraints. If a group wants to coordinate a month to read a specific book, then here is the place to do it. Sound okay?

204Crazymamie
Jan 30, 3:23pm Top

>202 ronincats: Roni, that is so interesting - thanks so much for posting that.

>203 ronincats: And thank you for this as well!

205rretzler
Jan 30, 3:27pm Top

>203 ronincats: Sounds great, Roni! Thank you again for introducing us to Hodgell and Jame.

I think as far as echoes of video games go (being a quasi-gamer myself), it is the video games that have echoes of these books. I think the initial developers of D&D, and then gradually those who developed those original 8-bit video games (like Zelda and other adventure games) are those who also read fantasy and sci-fi. Thus, their favorite adventures are played out in their creations - a natural extension of their reading. I see video games as divided into sports-type games, FPS (first person shooters) and RPG (role-playing games.) I think those who play (and perhaps still develop) the RPGs are generally also readers of fantasy and sci-fi. I'm not trying to classify every reader of sci-fi and fantasy this way, or every gamer this way, but I do feel there is a higher than average overlap between these two hobbies.

206humouress
Jan 30, 4:47pm Top

>202 ronincats: (I knew there were glaringly obvious Discworld references I was missing! Though, as I read the Lankhmar books at around the same time as I first read The Colour of Magic it's possible *she said hopefully* that I did get it the first time and forgot about it thereafter.)

>203 ronincats: Sounds good to me.

207richardderus
Jan 30, 5:02pm Top

>202 ronincats: I never got into Leiber's fantasy work. I was a fan of Gather, Darkness!. Dunno, just wasn't caught up in the whole swords-and-sworcery swing of things.

But when the new Kencyr novel comes out, the one that returns to Tai-Tastigon, I'm there.

208ronincats
Edited: Jan 30, 5:30pm Top

>204 Crazymamie: You are very welcome, Mamie.
>205 rretzler: You too, Robin. And I agree.
>206 humouress: ;-)
>207 richardderus: Despite my love for God Stalk, sword and sorcery was never a favorite genre of mine either. I do have two of his F&GM books in my library, but my 1969 copy of Gather, Darkness holds pride of possession.

ETA But Pratchett's The Last Hero is the other exception to the rule.


ETA which reminded me that I had lost track of my copy (at 9.5" by 11" it doesn't fit in with any of my other Pratchetts), so I had to institute a search which finally located it in the front bedroom, front bookcase, top shelf next to the Bungalow Arts and Crafts books. I think I have to sit me down and do a reread right now! I didn't even have it catalogued!

209HanGerg
Jan 30, 5:33pm Top

Ok, I'm finally all caught up and have finished!
I really liked it by the end, but the final few chapters were definitely my favourite, I hadn't really fully invested in the characters until then (and I'm still a little hazy about some of the thieves guild members). My main problem with the book is the lack of development of ideas, the thieves guild being a case in point. We get no sense of how this guild sits within a wider society with other guilds for other trades, so the whole thing feels a bit shaky to me. I like my world building more solidly constructed I think. The same with the cloudies. They seem like an interesting bunch, but we only get tiny glimpses of them. Maybe this is what others were talking about with the difference between old school and modern day fantasy. In a more modern novel, I think these ideas would have been fleshed out a lot more, and perhaps I would have liked the book better for it. Also, what's the deal with Bane? He developed into quite a sympathetic character by the end, but what of the fact that he FLAYS KIDS FOR FUN???? How did everyone overlook that part?! And in the context of the story, how did he get away with it for so long? Or was it all his evil shadow doing that? I'm still not sure. Also, what was going on with Jame's fingernails? That was never fully explained either, and it seems weird that she was so self conscious about it when everybody clocked her for what she was straight away, funny fingernails or not.
On the plus side, like others have said, I loved the Gorgo and Loogan elements of the story and that final image of Gorgo chasing after the other god, extinguishing all his harmful fires is priceless. I also really liked a lot of the characters at the inn. As for Jame herself, I'm still not sure. She is still such a mystery to herself that I'm not sure that she knows her own identity yet, so I guess we shouldn't be too hasty to judge. But I will certainly continue on the journey a bit further at least. I found the second book in a charity shop not long after we started the first, so it feels fated to be!
Also, what's this about a Vorkosigan group read?! I need to get in on that.....

210sibyx
Edited: Jan 31, 7:36am Top

>193 rretzler: Yes, I was sorry about Bane too.

>209 HanGerg: Jame is part something-or-other, (Roni will explain), a throwback, or mix to one of the cat type Kencycrath (sp?? sorry being lazy) When I finished two weeks ago it was all clear in my head of course!

I like the term speculative fiction to capture both fantasy and sf putting them in the same basket but then you get, within both fantasy and sf, variations and hybrids--more every year, it seems! Star Wars is in the sf side of the basket, kind of space opera with a touch of fantasy. I mean, what the heck IS the force if not tapping into the magic vibe? This (God Stalk) is definitely on the fantasy side with hints of interplanetary travel -- which isn't really enough to tip it.

Anyway, the main reason to keep them in one basket is that so many readers who like highly imaginative stuff like both sf and f and are game for almost any of the wild variations, at least to try. Luckily it is a very big basket! Like Mary Poppin's handbag.

211ronincats
Edited: Jan 30, 6:39pm Top

>209 HanGerg: Hannah, the info about Jame and her fingernails is clarified in the third appendix about the Kencyrath. They are formed of three races, the Highborn, the Kendar and the Arrin-ken.

The original Kencyr--renamed (by themselves) the Highborn--became the leaders of this new people. They were quick-witted and proud, blessed (or cursed, as some thought even in those days) with an unusually close relationship with their god. Those especially affected were called the Shanir. These individuals possessed strange powers and had a tendency to go mad. They often became priests.
...after the Fall...
On Rathillien, the remnants of the Three People struggled to reestablish themselves. They became obsessed with honor, feeling that Gerridon's fall from grace had somehow tainted them all. Much of their bitterness was taken out on the Shanir, whom many of them blamed for their current plight.


Jame's father threw her out of his homestead when her nails emerged at age 7, which showed she was Shanir, and he had a violent hatred of all things Shanir. No wonder she has qualms about her nails, which are quite lethal retractible claws. The only other Highborn we meet in this book are Ishtier the priest and Bane, brought from her father's homestead by Ishtier when he fled it and whom Jame believes is probably her half-brother. Thus he repulses her by his actions, but attracts her because he is like her in being Highborn and possibly Shanir and family. Bane got away with his actions because his only superior was Theocandi, who tolerated them. Still, there was muttering, as we saw--his actions were not accepted but tolerated because of the power protecting him. Jame never accepts his actions but is caught up in the puzzle of his true nature, as she is with the gods. Bane was never the Shadow Assassin--that was always Theocandi. Bane's soul was made by Ishtier into the Lower Town Monster.

And the whole series is about Jame discovering, and creating, her own identity. Early days yet!

The Vorkosigan group read was a couple of years ago, started here in 2014
http://www.librarything.com/topic/160914
and most recently continued in
http://www.librarything.com/topic/243884

>210 sibyx: I agree with Lucy. Much of what in the early days was considered science fiction would now be seen as fantasy, and so speculative fiction encompasses the whole.

>193 rretzler: I think it's pretty clear, Robin, that Men-dalis is taking over.

212richardderus
Jan 30, 7:39pm Top

>211 ronincats: ...he is...? After what he did to Dally?! Nay nay nay, I forbid it!

213ronincats
Jan 30, 7:45pm Top

>212 richardderus: NOOOOOO! Bane did not do that to Dally. The Creeper did it with Men-dalis' sanction, using Bane's trademark pattern to implicate him. No, no, no, no...

214richardderus
Jan 30, 7:53pm Top

>213 ronincats: *mmmfff* If you're *completely*positive* I shall withdraw my anathema.

215ronincats
Jan 30, 8:17pm Top

I AM **completely** positive.

216richardderus
Jan 30, 8:34pm Top

*mmmfff* I thought Jame was making nice when she said that at the end of the book, y'know, sympathy for the devil kinda thing. But okay.

217humouress
Jan 31, 12:47am Top

>211 ronincats: But Theocandi won the election, right? So Jame is leaving behind a guild war, then.

>213 ronincats: BREATHE Roni, breathe.

>214 richardderus: Yep; Dally saw his beloved brother in the shadows and gave up. (I don't think I got it the first time, either.)

218ronincats
Jan 31, 1:00am Top

>217 humouress: Theocandi won. Theocandi died. There was a vacuum in the power structure. Men-dalis had an intact power structure. In God Stalk, Sart says "if Men-dalis takes power now, he'll need something to get folks' minds off that odd business with his poor brother. A hunt for the murderer of a sirdan should suit him just fine, especially since he seems to hate you anyway. Off-hand, I can't think of anything that would pull the Guild together faster." And if you read the short story I linked above, it makes explicit that he takes the reins of power. With Theocandi gone and Bane discredited and killed (?), there's no one on that side prepared to govern.

I think I've calmed down a bit now, Nina. Thanks. >216 richardderus: XOX

219humouress
Jan 31, 1:03am Top

>218 ronincats: Oh, yes of course; memory's going.

Must get to that story.

220EBT1002
Jan 31, 10:56am Top

Hey everyone! I really appreciate the discussion of fantasy vs science fiction. I've not been a huge reader of either so the distinctions have not been entirely clear. A long time ago I read the (first) Dragonriders of Pern trilogy (I was in college, so this was a looooooong time ago) and I LOVED it. I really liked this book, too, and I am probably in for the next in the series.

Also, when I have a moment, I plan to read, in close detail, the posts in this thread. I feel like I need it to remember all the detail from the story. So thanks for the great discussion!

221richardderus
Jan 31, 11:14am Top

>217 humouress: OIC

Well, that makes Dally giving up make some sense. I thought he just got tired of struggling.

222sirfurboy
Edited: Jan 31, 11:16am Top

On the Sci-Fi or Fantasy debate, I agree with those who side with it being Fantasy (I think that is the majority view), but I would argue that there is a big blurry line between High Fantasy (Tolkien's Middle Earth etc.) and Pure Sci Fi (Asimov/Clark et al.)

As a trip to nearly any bookstore will show, Sci Fi is usually located very close to the fantasy section and usually (but not always) attracts the same readers. Some fantasy looks like fantasy but actually is Sci Fi when you read into it (e.g. Card's "The Worthing Saga") and sometimes the reverse is true.

Personally I think that "Speculative Fiction" is a much better umbrella term. There is purist Sci Fi, such as Ancillary justice, and there is high fantasy, but there is a whole spectrum in between.

God Stalk is, I think, at the fantasy end of that spectrum but it could develop into full blooded SF, if you explored more deeply what the true nature of that higher power is, that does not even regard the gods that issue from it somehow.

Edit: and Just noticed Sibyx said a lot of that :)

223rretzler
Jan 31, 12:03pm Top

>218 ronincats: >219 humouress: Ah, yes. I too forgot what I had read in the short story already. I was too focused on thinking about the ending of God Stalk, which seemed as though it were leaning that way.

>218 ronincats: Roni, I caught that carefully placed (?). I am crossing my fingers, as I feel that there must surely be a part for him to play still.

>222 sirfurboy: Agreed!

224sibyx
Jan 31, 5:03pm Top

I've just about faced the fact that before moving on to Dark of the Moon I need to reread God Stalk.

Sigh.

225ronincats
Edited: Jan 31, 10:44pm Top

Today, on the last day of the month, I want to thank everyone for what I feel has been a most successful group read! 27 of us expressed an interest in participating, and 19 of us actually completed the book!! Two people did not finish, finding it not their thing, and 5 apparently haven't had time to start the book, so they may not. One started but has been away from her thread so I don't know if she finished. Regardless, this is an outstanding level of participation and I want to tell you all how much I've enjoyed sharing this book with you. Your discussion has made this a much deeper reading experience than it otherwise would have been and I thank you.

Feel free to keep posting here as desired, but I wanted to provide some closure and appreciation.

226sibyx
Feb 1, 2:54pm Top

Here is a quote from E.M. Forster on the "fantasist" (he was thinking more of literary imagineers, but I think it applies):

“As I said of the fantasist, he {they} manipulate{s} a beam of light which occasionally touches the objects so sedulously dusted by the hand of common sense, and renders them more vivid than they can ever be in domesticity."

It really is what good spec. fiction writing does.

227richardderus
Edited: Feb 1, 3:03pm Top

EM wrote a speculative fiction novella in 1909, called The Machine Stops, that proves to me his imagination's immense reach. Plus his pen name's initials mean "ElectroMagnetic" in the modern world. So he's cool. By definition!

228humouress
Feb 1, 5:17pm Top

>225 ronincats: Thanks Roni, for setting this up, running it and providing insights with background information that I wouldn’t have known to find.

It has been a good group read! I hope most of us do continue with it. Onwards and upwards!

And speaking of Dark of the Moon, did anyone get a good look at yesterday’s super blue blood moon? We were supposed to get a partial eclipse here but it was too cloudy to see anything (apart from the fact that I forgot to stick my head out of the window at the right time, anyway).

229ronincats
Feb 1, 7:45pm Top

The continuation thread is up! You can use the link at the bottom of this thread and it should already be starred. I haven't added book covers because LT isn't letting me capture image addresses right now for some reason. Hope to see you there at some point.

230SandDune
Feb 2, 2:49am Top

>225 ronincats: I did finish (and enjoyed it) but didn’t quite find the time to comment.

231souloftherose
Feb 2, 6:47am Top

>202 ronincats: Thanks for that post Roni, very interesting. I'd heard of Fritz Leiber from reading Pratchett's The Colour of Magic but haven't read any of his stories (or much sword and sorcery come to think of it).

232ronincats
Feb 2, 12:14pm Top

>230 SandDune: Rhian, I saw you had reviewed it on your thread, so you were counted! Dejah is the one who hadn't commented either here or on her thread, but if she's put up the second book for February, I'm guessing she also has read the first, making it an even TWENTY!

>231 souloftherose: It's actually not one of my favorite sub-genres, Heather, despite my love for God Stalk. But a fair number of books came out of it, such as The Lies of Locke Lamora.

233richardderus
Feb 2, 12:18pm Top

>232 ronincats: Twenty! That's amazing levels of participation. Brava, Roni, you chose the best book to get people reading and talking.

234jeanmmarchand
Feb 18, 1:40pm Top

Now, I want to read P. C. Hodgell !!! Thank to you, good readers ;)

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2018

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