Week 1: Between Two Thorns Read-Along
We’re diving into The Split Worlds series this week, starting with the first book Between Two Thorns! If you’re interested in joining this Read-Along, visit the SF/F Read-Along group for more information and to join the discussion.
The new season is starting and the Master of Ceremonies is missing. Max, an Arbiter of the Split Worlds Treaty, is assigned with the task of finding him with no one to help but a dislocated soul and a mad sorcerer.
There is a witness but his memories have been bound by magical chains only the enemy can break. A rebellious woman trying to escape her family may prove to be the ally Max needs.
But can she be trusted? And why does she want to give up eternal youth and the life of privilege she’s been born into?
Part 1 – Monday 9th May: Chapters 1-9, hosted by Over The Effing Rainbow
Part 2 – Monday 16th May: Chapters 10-18, hosted by On Starships and Dragonwings
Part 3 – Monday 23rd May: Chapters 19-25, hosted by OneMore.org (Imyril)
Part 4 – Monday 30th May: Chapters 26-End, hosted by Lynn’s Books
1. Let’s tackle the setup, first of all. The world of the Nether is caught between the Fae world and ours, and is also apparently too old-fashioned for Cathy, our escaping protagonist, to want to live in. What were your first impressions given her views on her home and family?
Mogsy: Her world was too old-fashioned for her, and apparently too crazy. I felt for Cathy, I really did, especially the way she was pushed into a corner. That trick with the three wishes was not very nice, and if that was any indication of the way things worked in the Fae realm, I would have run away too, and never looked back. All joking aside though, I admire a character like Cathy, who clearly has a natrual curiosity and a passion for learning, and she was willing to go her own way despite her family’s scandalized reactions.
Tiara: The Nether seems like it’s probably a beautiful and dangerous place if I’m to go by her interactions with Lord Poppy. Hearing about how casually cruel her own family is and how that is the norm. Reading about how her father beat her when he found out that her tutor was allowing her to read books from Mundanus that filled her head with ideas such as equality and wanting to be educated about the world around her. It would be easy to conform under such hard circumstances. Cathy is afraid of he brutality that the Nether presents, but her want to know things overrules that. She truly does share a trait of the people she admires that have stood up against injustices in history.
2. There appears to be corruption and murder afoot among the Arbiters, a sort of supernatural police, and it doesn’t lead to good times for Max. What do you make of the magical soul surgery that the Arbiters undergo to do their jobs?
Mogsy: I think the Arbiters are great. Let’s face it, the “supernatural or magical police” trope is all over fantasy, but I thought there were a few things here that made the Arbiters unique and interesting. Also, Max’s sections actually intrigue me the most so far. I’m really looking forward to see how this little mystery plays out on his end.
Tiara: That is an interesting angle. I agree with Mogsy that the supernatural police isn’t a new idea, but this idea that their souls are taken from them in order for them to better do their jobs is fascinating. While it does seem to have rendered many emotions and wants void, it apparently doesn’t stop people from giving into corruption. Max’s predicament with his soul is a very curious one and I look forward to seeing what such an implication could mean for him and his new companion.
3. Even more mysterious is Sam’s accidental involvement in the mystery. Any thoughts on the hapless mortal and what might become of him?
Mogsy: Honestly, I have no idea. When this book first started, I thought Sam might be a throwaway character, simply fulfilling his purpose as a plot device to show off some of the “supernaturalness” of this world. Of course, we realized there was more to him after the first few pages. He hasn’t shown up all that much so far, so his fate remains to be seen.
Tiara: Well, we haven’t had too many sections with Sam, but I can see him being a bit of a bumbling sidekick once this all gets rolling. His wedding ring seems to act as protection for him against the Fae, and I’m curious to know whether this was intentionally done by his wife (or her family) or if he just happens to be a victim of circumstance by being the recipient of a charmed item. I have a feeling his whole world is about to change regardless.
Tiara: I had to share my favorite quote in this section because I loved that Cathy found love through geekery. As someone who met her own husband through gaming, stories of people bonding and falling in love over geeky interests always warms my heart:
“He made it his personal mission to educate her about sci-fi’s transition from paper to film. Somewhere between This Island Earth and Forbidden Planet they’d started to hold hands. They kissed halfway through Journey to the Centre of the Earth and by Fantastic Voyage they were almost inseparable. He’d lovingly introduced her to Star Wars in the original film release order, and she realised she loved him at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. By Back to the Future III he’d confessed he felt the same, inspired by the scene between Clara and Doc Brown stargazing together.”
Mogsy: I agree, that was such a sweet quote, Tiara! I met my husband through gaming and a shared love for all things geekery too, and that quote reminded me of the way he introduced me to Star Trek. We sat down and watched all the shows and movies together, starting at the beginning with the Original Series.