This post contains spoilers.

WELL. Can I just say, wow. Only about a hundred and fifty pages further and I’m completely confused about where this is going. Again.

Scott Lynch has this vexing habit of telling his readers 98% before the last chapter, then whacking them in the face with the last 2% and making them feel stupid because they should have known. The chairs. The sorry bandit. The sucking-up to Selendri. The rope climbing.

I feel like I should be able to see where this is going, and it frustrates me to no end that I don’t.1Might I remind you, this is my first time reading Red Seas Under Red Skies. After — and I’ll bet my copy of House of Leaves on this — the Grand Plot is revealed, I will facepalm so hard my palm is bruised for weeks.

So, yes, definitely one of those books where you have to sit on your hands so you won’t flip to the last page to see how it ends.

As it is, I let the last bit of this week’s assigned reading well alone in favour of getting this post out on time(ish). Next week, Uni will stop interfering with my reading schedule for the summer and I can catch up to you guys.

1. Now that we know a little more about Selendri and Requin, what do you think of them?

To be honest, I have no idea who to trust any more. … Well done, Mr Lynch, well done. It is ridiculous, but I like all the big players on the other side now. I especially like Selendri and Requin, not the least because of Selendri’s backstory. I can always appreciate love and loyalty, and the whole thing was touching in spite of its mild cheesiness. (I mean, lover/bodyguard/best friend taking the brunt of an assassination attempt because of misdirection? That is a bit cliched.)

Don’t get me wrong, though, Lynch executes the trope well by making the effects of the attack permanent: Selendri’s eye is ruined and her arm withered. There is no magical cure to apply, no happy ending for her and Requin afterward. There is only the reality of what such a substance does to your body.

2. Isn’t the Artificers’ Crescent just amazing?  If you could purchase anything there, what would it be?

I love it; I’d want a garden. Or a plane. Or toy soldiers. Or a functional flying carpet.2Shush, they could legit invent one. Possibly, I’d be happy with a house in the district so that I could wander about and check out all the cool stuff.

3. What did you think of  Salon Corbeau and the goings on that occur there? A bit crueler than a Camorri crime boss, no?

I’m not going to lie: the Amusement Wars in Salon Corbeau made me so angry I had to take a breather before I could go on reading.3I don’t think there’s an emotion I’ve yet to experience while reading. I laugh myself silly, I cry until I can’t see, I get so angry on behalf of people who don’t exist that I want to punch walls.

For some reason, although I’m not usually very political4Ed.note: good Lord, this post just dated itself., the so-called entertainment made me think of economics and the current job market situation. You are offered a shit position that might lead to a better one, for a minimum wage, and the only other option you have is starving to death. The callous attitude of the citizens of Salon Corbeau compares to that of large companies; “Oh, we’re just offering this position for this pay, it’s not our fault if they take it and it turns out to be a steaming pile of horse shit.”

Cruel, yes, and cruel in the kind of way that damages both the spectator and the spectacle. I refuse to believe that there is no shred of humanity left in the Salon Corbeau audience to protest the Amusement Wars.

4. The Archon might be a megalomaniacal military dictator, but he thinks he’s doing right by Tal Verrar: his ultimate goal seems to be to protect them.  What do you think he’s so afraid of?

I like the fact that as far as I know, as far as he knows, Stragos is working for the good of Tal Verarr. His little demonstration in the artificial garden had an effect on me, mainly in the sense that I was very impressed by it and found myself agreeing with him; if this is what they can do today, what might they be capable of tomorrow? His arguments against the Bondsmagi sound so reasonable according to what we have been shown so far. Wouldn’t you want to end a reign of fear such as that?

Stragos is a utilitarianist, working towards the goal that will guarantee a brighter future — a strong, united Tal Verarr — for everyone. He is willing to commit immoral actions, such as forcing Locke and Jean to work for him by poisoning them, if it leads to an outcome that is better for most people in the end. In utiliarianism, this would be a moral action.

Locke and Jean, on the other hand, are individualists who claim the right to work towards their own goals and interests regardless of what the society they live in demands of them. They seek to further their goals without caring about how it affects society overall. The question that we have to answer is, would we be willing to sacrifice ourselves for the greater good? Or would we react with outrage like Locke and attempt to resist Stragos at every turn?

5. And who the heck is trying to kill Locke and Jean every few days?

Someone who’s invested in either a) Tal Verarr, b) the Bondsmagi, or c) the Sinspire.

I don’t think we know too many characters who are either. ‘Tal Verarr’ also possibly being someone who opposes the Archon; ‘the Bondsmagi’ being someone in the society who wants them to die but is merciful; and ‘the Sinspire’ could be, I think, a gambler they have slighted, as misdirection on Lynch’s part.

6. Do you really think it’s possibly for a city rat like Locke to fake his way onto a Pirate ship?

I reckon that Stragos has hit upon the only way that it he just might be able to pull off. With Locke as a charismatic Captain Whatshisname to rally the troops, so to speak, and Jean as his First Mate to make sure those not rallied keep quiet about it, yeah, it might work.