Full Fathom Five Read-A-Long Week No.1


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Here’s something new for us at The BiblioSanctum — a Read-A-Long! Over the next few weeks, we’ll be joining many other fellow bloggers in a read through of Max Gladstone’s Full Fathom Five.

full fathom five

Full Fathom Five is the the third book in the Craft Sequence, however, each book stands alone. Want to know a little bit about the other books? Check out our reviews here:

Two Serpents Risethree parts deadThree Parts Dead (Wendy)
Two Serpents Rise (Wendy)

We are coming to this party rather late, so we haven’t all had a chance to read the necessary chapters this week. Tiara and Mogsy hope to join Wendy next week!  If you’re interested in joining the read-a-long, there’s still time! Visit the SF/F Read-A-Long group for more information or to join in the conversation.

Week 1: July 20 Ch 1-13 – hosted by Allie from Tethyan Books
Week 2: July 27 Ch 14-32 – hosted by Lynn from Little Lion Lynnet’s
Week 3: August 3 Ch 33-50 – hosted by Heather from The Bastard Title
Week 4: August 10 Ch 50-62 – hosted by Lisa from Over the Effing Rainbow

1) Kai kicks off the story by risking her life in an attempt to save the idol Alpha Seven. Why do you think she chose to try? Do you think idols truly non-sentient?

Wendy: You later learn that Kai goes above and beyond with her work. I love the way this series relates it all to work, making it clear that that is what religion is in this realm. Kai is someone who is constantly putting in overtime and going above and beyond. We’d call that person a workaholic, but here there is the added level of her faith. She initially seems like someone who is aloof and unconnected to the potential personal connections, but when she dives into the pool, it changes everything I thought about her. I believe that she felt sentience in Alpha Seven long before the idol’s strings were cut and could not allow her to drown. I definitely don’t believe the idols lack sentience of some kind. The level of fear Alpha Seven displayed was very real.

2) I think this is the first time we’ve seen idols, and they have their similarities and differences to gods and craftsmen. Do you think they serve a useful purpose? If you were in this world, would you prefer faith, Craft, or idols?

Wendy: Everything has a pretty hefty price in this world and soulstuff is not easy for everyone to come by. I like the idea of the idols being there for people who can’t quite afford the demands of the Dead Kings and the Gods. Idols are kind of an easier way to keep the faith with less of the hassle. It’s a bit of a cop out, but considering not everyone can afford everything else, I like that this option exists for some. Knowing what I do now about the different options, I think I would prefer faith in the Gods. Though they don’t communicate much, they seem the most genuine. Unfortunately, those in charge of them tend to corrupt things…

3) I found it interesting that priests/priestesses are able to change or reform their bodies in the pool, during their initiation. If it were possible, would you want to make use of this power or not?

Wendy: I like the idea of them being able to fix any issues they have and that Kai’s change is most significant because she was born into a male body and has now been able to transition through this process–something that is far more difficult to do in reality, unless you have Caitlin Jenner’s money and status.  This process of fixing one’s physical issues doesn’t seem to be a common thing available to just anyone. The priests seem to be the only ones with access, which implies that a high level of devotion and/or dedication is involved. Other people exhibit small fixes, while Kai’s is much more significant. Is the level of her change based on her level of commitment? Or her level of desire for that change? I think it’s a combination of both.

Personally speaking, I lack both Kai’s level of dedication and my changes are pretty cosmetic anyway. I want 20/20 vision, long, tangle-free hair, and pre-baby boobs. I think I have just enough faith to make this happen if I were to accept a job as a priest and go diving into the silver pool.

4) A few familiar faces show up from Three Parts Dead, Cat and Ms. Kevarian! Is this how you would have expected them to be living, after the events of that novel? [Three Parts Dead spoiler warning for answers to this question]

Wendy: I recognized the names, but my memory on Three Parts Dead is a little fuzzy. I can’t recall where we left Cat … wasn’t she supposed to be having hot vampire pirate sex? At least, that’s totally what was happening in my mind. Ms. Kevarian, I wasn’t surprised to see. I liked the connection — and I like that the connection is not (thus far) fully reliant on you reading the other books in the sequence, which makes this series so great.

5) Izza is in a difficult situation; she wants to take care of the other street children, but she also wants to protect herself. What do you think of how she is attempting to meet both goals? Do you think she was right to stop leading the stories and rituals for the other children?

Wendy: Izza seems to be the kind of person who wants to help everyone but recognizes how easily that can drag her down, especially with the prospect of becoming a Penitent looming over her. Her need to survive should be her priority and leaving the younger kids actually isn’t as selfish as it might seem, again, because the Penitents would be looking for her. All of the kids seem fully capable of taking care of themselves, but Izza obviously isn’t about to leave them high and dry–though it’s interesting that her choice to provide them with a stash came after she spent time with Cat, who has promised to take her away. The prospect of leaving was only a pipedream until that point and Izza might have been persuaded to stay by Nick had it not been for Cat’s offer.

6) There is a lot that is hinted near the end of this section, with the line “Howl, Bound World” and the poet Edmond Margot. What do you think it is that ties together Seven Alpha, Kai, Izza, and Margot?

Wendy: I’d venture that it has something very much to do with Alpha Seven’s sentience and perhaps the souls that have been invested in her. And most certainly the contract that the idol signed before her death.

5 Comments on “Full Fathom Five Read-A-Long Week No.1”

  1. I prefer faith, too, but I’d want to make sure I wasn’t worshipping anyone who was going to start demanding human sacrifice or something.

    Cat was definitely into the vampires :D. I think we left her determined to improve her life and fight her addictions, though.

    I forgot about the contract the idol signed before she died. I vaguely remember them saying something about that it was supposed to be a safe investment. Maybe it was really sabotage/murder?


    • I wonder if Kai has forgotten it too. She keeps talking about the words it spoke, though she didn’t tell Kevarian that, but she’s not spoken about the contract at all.


  2. Oooooh, good point about Izza starting to collect money after meeting Cat! I wonder if that’s genuinely related to Cat or whether it’s just timing that makes it look related. I wonder if we’ll see more of the significance of Cat fighting off the Penitents, too.

    And very good point about the contract! That’s bound to become important sooner or later because the idol did sign it and something about the way that Kai offered it is niggling at me with that reminder. I don’t think she actually signed it, did she? But with the way she drew it up so quickly and with the case so desperate I wonder if that’s going to be important as well.


    • I think the “Yes” was very clear as agreement of the contract, but it’s interesting that Kai hasn’t spoken or even really thought about it since.

      I saw Izza’s decision to start collecting a stash as a realization that she really can get out of here, which comes from Cat’s promise. Once she realized that, then she decided to make sure the kids were taken care of. Perhaps she doesn’t consciously recognize it like that, but that’s how I read it.


  3. “She initially seems like someone who is aloof and unconnected to the potential personal connections, but when she dives into the pool, it changes everything I thought about her.”

    This is an interesting point, and one I hadn’t considered before. Kai really does seem to have more personal investment in the idols, and her career/faith, than in her own everyday personal relationships. The more I think on it, I realise that the scene in her apartment with her ex bears that out, and even highlights a reason why she might feel that way. If people in her regular life are letting her down, it might make sense that she’d throw herself more into other things. In this case, her work…


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