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May 2008

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Arrows of the Queen, Chapters 7-12 Discussion

Failure! Our schedule derailed so soon! Due to the holiday and . . . er . . . procrastination, the second Arrows of the Queen post is a few days late. Apologies! But hey, we're through the first book! What did you all think?

I have a much better appreciation for the way Misty inserts the gay-friendly text than I did when I was younger! I was raised in an extremely liberal family, so I don't think I even noticed anything out of the ordinary when I was reading it for the first time - did you guys? Did the lesbian relationships give you pause back then? Although the easy way Sherrill gets slotted in for Ylsa, that felt a little too pat back then and it feels a little too pat now. But I like the way it's written, and how it sets up the importance of the lifebond. (I remember when I was younger, I got Sherrill and Jeri and Keren all mixed up all the time!)

I actually did get a little teary at the death, which I wasn't expecting, and when the combination of Heralds worked together to retrieve the proof of treason, I felt a familiar surge of OMG HERALDS AVENGING YAY PRIDE GEEZ AW swelling inside. :x There's something so stirring about selfless Valdemarian patriotism! And the scene in the shielded room with the fused crystal made me *very* excited for the next trilogy. :D

And I had forgotten about the taming of Elspeth! You know what that made me do? It made me recast Brendon in Elspeth's role. Little Brendon sadly glueing a doll back together, aww! Although I don't know who would be taming Brendon as Talia. Thoughts, ahahah?

I had forgotten that the rest of Talia's years at the Collegium was summarized, but I think it worked pretty well, Talia being the sort of Herald tales are written about and all. I liked how this book had baby steps into the world of courtly intrigue. A good introduction!

Nu? What say you all? Join us Monday for an encapsulating post on Arrow's Flight by joyfulseeker, and then we're back on track on Thursday with half of Arrow's Fall!


That "Nu?" totally just made my day.

I think as a kid I vaguely appreciated the gay-friendly text, because most of the books I read didn't really have any gay characters, especially positive and visible gay characters. At any rate, I'd already read the earlier books (timelinewise) by the time I got to the Arrows trilogy, and most of the visible gay (or bisexual) characters up until this point were men. There's comparatively very little mention of lesbians that I can recall, so Keren and Ylsa were initially a little bit of a shock. Weirdly, this is the complete opposite of my real life experiences, because I didn't know a lot of openly gay men growing up, but I was pretty much used to kids having two mommies from a very young age.

I had remembered that something terrible happened to Ylsa, and as I was getting closer to the end of the book I was all "Oh, well, maybe it happens in the next one?" and then there was TRAUMA. I definitely agree that the thing with Sherrill seemed a bit too pat, but I seem to recall that Mercedes Lackey occasionally likes to throw in threesomes and then break them up. Or maybe that was just the one time with the Bedlam's Bard books. Anyway, it certainly does emphasize the importance of the lifebond, but for people who already know about the importance of the lifebond it's kind of "Yeah, yeah, knew that massive emotional shock was going to happen. And by the way WHY DID YOU KILL YLSA OMG STUPID NARRATIVE WHATSIS :("

Something I have noticed is that Lackey's same-sex lifebonded partners often end up having pretty considerable age gaps. I might be wrong on this, since it's been a while, but I seem to remember noticing that when I was younger, too. Speaking of ages, I am constantly confused as to how old Keren and Teren are, because they don't seem that old at all and then there's mention of them retiring from the field due to getting older. Does anyone else feel like sometimes the ages/timelines get randomly sketchy every so often?

I am pretty sure that the taming of Elspeth informed much of my attitude towards babysitting, and may actually still inform some of how I interact with children. Although Talia's confidence level is about a million times higher than my own in this area.

Some tiny part of me thinks Ryan should be Talia (looks younger than he is! problems at home! daydreams a lot!) and then Spencer is obvs Skiff. (Jon is Dirk! Pete is Kris!) And then some other tiny part of me thinks that Greta is actually Talia, and, like, Patrick is Dirk and Pete is Kris. (The other Hushies were in fact a group of street urchin thieves, of course. And how did I get stuck on Pete as Kris?) The rest of me is just crying silently in a corner and making occasional contributions like "You suck, Patrick would totally be a Bard. Not that I care!" It's kind of sad how much denial most of me is in.

I had entirely forgotten how much I really love some of the characters and relationships. Like Alberich. He's awesome. I never got around to reading both of the books about him, so I am looking forward to that part of these shenanigans. There's also the Skiff-and-Talia dynamic, the Selenay-and-Talia dynamic, etc. Talia just ends up having these really interesting relationships with people. All that Empathy, I guess.
Wow, no matter that some of it is clumsily written, the emotional cords still ring true. I found myself tearing up, and then grinning maniacally throughout. I can't help it, I still love these books!

Thinking back, Karen and Ylsa were the first gay characters I read, and I they definitely informed how I reacted to gay characters in literature, on the screen, and probably those I meet in real life.

I wonder how much of the plot for the entire series Lackey had in her head at this point, because there is a lot of foreshadowing. What do other people think?
I'm pretty sure Lackey had constructed a relatively elaborate universe in her head before she wrote the books. I mean, she made up legends so she could write the full backstory later! Take a look at the songs in the back of Arrow's Fall for a minute. (Or not, since we haven't gotten to it yet. XD) There are a whole bunch of songs that were written around the same time as the Arrows books. Most of them are personal songs for characters in this particular trilogy, but some of the last bunch are songs that definitely go with other stories. The song about Tarma and Kethry makes sense because I think they were actually her first characters in this universe (Sword & Sorceress anthologies \o/) but "Kerowyn's Ride"? By the Sword wasn't even published for another four or five years.

Actually, given the cluster of some of the publication dates, I wonder if Lackey had enough story notes to just pound everything out. And honestly, it's likely some of the songs were written even before she was doing the books. She did a lot of filking and con stuff before being published, I think.

I cannot believe how much thought I'm putting into this. XD
That's a good point, she must have had at least the bones of everything by the third book. I forgot about those songs, so great!

Side note: if anyone has the songs in a format that I could put on my computer, I would love them!

And can I put in a vote for Frank as Skif? I think the mischievous quality is perfect.
But Frank's never going to get as tall as Skif. :P Skif doesn't start out so big, but he does get that massive growth spurt that ends up with him being around six feet.

One of my friends in high school got some of the CDs, I think, but I've lost touch. You can get them from . . . the internet. Um. It's firebirdarts.com I think.
Yay! I only have tapes (from you)
OH MANS AWESOME. Gahhhhhh. I remember listening to those tapes in the living room with aweirdsister, and our other sisters wandered into the room totally confused about the caterwauling on the stereo! WE USED TO LISTEN TO THEM AT NIGHT AFTER WE'D TURNED OFF THE LIGHTS.