Thursday, September 17, 2015

Read-Along: Last First Snow, Part 1

This is the first post for my participation in a read-along of Max Gladstone’s latest novel Last First Snow.  This one is a prequel, featuring Elayne Kevarian and Temoc in Dresediel Lex.  This week’s questions cover chapters 1-16 and were provided by Lisa of Over the Effing Rainbow, and the banner that you see above was made by Anya of On Starships and Dragonwings 

Beware of spoilers through chapter 16 below, and also for spoilers of Two Serpents Rise, which is set chronologically later with some of the same characters. 

I am running very behind, and meant to have this post up for Monday.  I appear to have drastically overestimated my ability to handle participating in two read-alongs during the week where I finish an analysis, attend two weddings, and attend a conference.  In logistics terms, this is a week that involves traveling to Monaco, Italy, and Spain. Anyway, I did at least finish the reading on time (thanks to time spent on airplanes), even if I couldn’t manage to write the post by Monday!  Hopefully, things will calm down in the near future.  And now, on to the questions! 

1) We have an impressive few recurring characters (though, are they recurring if this is a prequel...?) with Temoc, Elayne Kevarian and the Red King leading this story. Given what we've been shown of them before, what are your thoughts on them now, as they relate to this story so far?

I think we can say they’re recurring even if it is chronologically earlier in-universe, since the book was published later!  Starting with Temoc, he’s much more sympathetic to me this time around.  I had very little patience for him in Full Fathom Five.  I was especially intrigued to see that he had stopped doing blood sacrifices, and seemed dedicated to helping his faith grow and adapt to the new world.  I think we’re seeing the start of his path, though, as he forgets his family while performing the ceremonies. It was also excellent to see tiny Caleb, who already enjoys a good card game! Kevarian and the Red King don’t seem all that much different as in the other books, at least so far.  They’re both already established and powerful Craftspeople, and both on the same side of “going full skeleton” as in previous books.

2) While we're on the subject of characters, I'd like to give a nod to one new face - 'the Major', whom evidence so far suggests is a possible antagonist in this story. Do you agree with that, or might there be something more complicated in the works where he's concerned?

I may be not reading deeply enough into it, but he just seems like one of those simple fundamentalist politican-types so far.  I expect he’s going to cause trouble, because he wants to cause trouble.  Maybe his armor is important (perhaps he is not human?).  I’ll be happy to be surprised, but so far I think he’s going to fill the role of “annoying character who messes everything up for no reason.”

3) ... And speaking of complications, we also get some rather interesting scenes with Temoc's family - his wife Mina, and a much younger Caleb than we met previously in Two Serpents Rise. How might their appearances lead to thickening the plot(s), do you think?

This is a part of the story that’s bound to end badly for all involved.  We know the broad details, and what Caleb and Temoc’s life and relationship are like in later years.  They seem so happy together right now, it’s kind of painful to contemplate what’s going to come in the rest of the book.  I’m guessing Caleb will be threatened in some way, or at least Temoc will perceive him to be threatened, which leads to his misguided attempt to protect him.  I’m also guessing Mina will probably die.

4) Lastly, we end this section of the book with a near-catastrophe of the Red King's (accidental?) making, before their peace talks have even really begun. Add to this the fact that Ms Kevarian is not at all used to handling such matters from ground level, as it were... Do you think her efforts to negotiate peace without the use of force are going to pay off? 

Temoc managed to smooth things over, so they may have a chance at discussion while he has power and is interested in helping.  Perhaps they also have a chance if Kevarian can do some client behavior counseling after the first day... sending poisoners and intimidating people with acts of Craft are not really the best ways to assure them that you’re bargaining in good faith.

Other Things:

---I wonder if Gladstone will ever write a book set in the Wars.  I’m curious about the glimpses of the time period that we’re getting from Kevarian’s memories.

--I like Chel, and I like that Kevarian treated her with respect when she came into her place of business.  I hope nothing terrible happens to her.

--I feel like there are always details that seem insignificant early in a Gladstone novel, but which end up being very important.  I don’t yet know what they are this time, but I’m trying to keep an eye out!


  1. Haha, Gladstone is one of those writers where it's easy to start overanalyzing every detail to try to figure out how things will go but I never guess right! So agreed about a book set in the Wars, that would be so awesome!!

    1. I have a bad track record on my guesses, too :).