This post contains spoilers.

Things in lists, as for some reason I find lists easier to write. Possibly because I’ve had a lot of practice.

  • Yayness, I’ve finally caught up with the reading!1I actually finished the book today. Oh wow. This post would be as long as a year on Windward Rock if I let myself have at it, so suffice to say that I’m absolutely loving this part with Locke and Jean at sea aboard the Red Messenger and, later, the Poison Orchid.
    • I do have a minor issue with the name, though. Why are ships with female captains named after “feminine” things like flowers or birds or God knows what else, with something dangerous (like poison) thrown in to make sure we understand that they’re dangerous even though they’re captained by women?
  • CALDRIS. Aw, hell, it was just the other day that I was hoping he wouldn’t be one of those characters I grow ridiculously attached to right before they are killed off (by natural means, as it turned out). (Or did it…?) I feel bad for him because he knew that he was trying to do the impossible with Locke and Jean, even though he would have deserved a house and comfortable retirement, and then he gets fucked over by a godsdang landlubber! Still, Locke’s blessing him as a priest (er, devotee? ordained?) of the Thirteenth was a nice touch. It reminded me of the scene with the young noble killed by the stiletto wasps.
    • What do you think, will religion play a bigger role in the future books?
  • There is a magnificent set of teethmarks on the pages 251-261 from where I read RSURS while watching White Noise 2 on Friday.2Now there is a genuinely terrifying horror flick.
  • I can’t be the only person round here who is fascinated by folklore! The little lesson Caldris gave Locke sounded authentic, precisely the kind of thing sailors tell stories about, with a dash of something singularly Sea of Brass-esque thrown in. Wanna bet they end up running into whatever emptied Hope-of-Silver of people? Or, if they don’t, I sort of wish they did because I am one big fathomless well of curiosity at this point.
  • I’m so very confused by all these sailing terms. Note to self: next time you read this book, do it with a dictionary at hand. I didn’t want to ruin the reading experience this first time ’round by pausing to check up a new word every ten lines or so.

And then! Pirates get robbed BY OTHER PIRATES. Priceless.

I wonder if Captain Drakasha will become involved in Locke and Jean’s schemes, or if she’s there simply to provide them with the connection to pirates that they need for their plan (or, well, Stragos’s plan) to succeed. She seems quite forbidding, somehow, like the kind of a person you really don’t want to cross. Then again, she is a pirate who has her children on board, so I wouldn’t want to cross her even if she seemed to be made of candy floss and kittens.

1. Locke and Jean’s ability to find themselves at the center of a serious mess seems unparalleled. At this point, do you think that Stragos will get the return he expects on his investment in them?

Re: above-mentioned death of Caldris. I may be painting devils on the walls — wait, no, seeing devils where there are none? — but I wonder if Stragos isn’t setting Locke and Jean up for failure. What kind of an idiot first poisons an old sailor with heart trouble (the clutching of his left arm, too old for the tops, etc.) and then sends him out in potentially bad weather while expecting him not to die or at least sustain a serious injury?

Stragos plays his cards so close to his chest, he might not have any cards at all for all anyone else can see. He keeps the marine plan a secret until last minute, then won’t tell where the Red Messenger is getting its crew until it is the time to pick them up… The question is, how many layers of deceit can he build?

Technically, he now has (self-fabricated) evidence that one of his captains has gone rogue and left with a ship that was previously associated with the wasp-smuggling folk. Could he benefit from just that, to hell with whatever happens to our Bastards after they leave the dock?

2. Merrain’s activities after our boys leave Windward Rock are interesting. What do you think her plans are?

Clearly she appears to be working for the Archon, but I suspect she has another employer who is as big a player in the game as he is. Thing is, I had the strangest idea regarding Merrain while I was reading the book; more specifically, on the 16th line of page 294, between the words ‘alas’ and ‘for’, when a synapse fired in my brain and informed me that I was having a Gut Feeling.

What if Merrain is Sabetha?

3. Does anyone know why having cats aboard the ship is so important?

Aside from the fact that they deal with the pesky problem of cargo- and storage-infesting vermin, I reckon it’s just Iono (gods forbid if that doesn’t remind me of Blind Io…) being an easily amused bastard: he likes cats, so cats they shall have unless they wish to incur his wrath. “And I had done a hellish thing, / And it would work ’em woe: / For all averred, I had killed the bird /That made the breeze to blow…”3 The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

4. The word “mutiny” creates a lot of mental pictures. Were you surprised? Why or why not?

No. It could have worked, right up to the point when Locke forgot about the cats and Caldris died. Without the cats… maybe; if they had found a suitable ship to pillage and plunder of cats. Locke and Jean were shams, though, so it makes sense that they were discovered as soon as the guy who was actually doing what they were pretending to be doing died.

5. Ah, the Poison Orchid. So many surprises there, not the least of which were the captain’s children. Did you find the young children a natural part of the story?

It’s a bit early to say. I understand why Captain Drakasha would keep her children on board — to be honest, I’m more curious about who their father is — the Archon? — but so far their interactions with the (new & old) members of the crew have felt natural. I’m reserving judgment until further notice.

As for the Poison Orchid and her crew, I like that they are fair. They may be pirates and scoundrels and none of them are saddled with too high morals, but they are fair. If you don’t want to be one of them, you do shit jobs to pay for travel until they come to port. If you do want to be one of them, you have to prove yourself — and after you have done so, nobody will bring up your past in the scrub watch because they’ve all been there. (I find it a very effective method of integrating new crew members.)

I’ve got to admit that although the Poison Orchid turning up was a twist I didn’t expect — I may have scared the neighbours with my chortling — I have grown immensely fond of it over the course of Chapter 10. All the descriptions of life aboard a ship are fascinating, and I love how good care they take of it.

Look, the sea either makes you prudent, or it kills you. Drakasha’s officers take an oath. We’re sworn that this ship goes down in battle, or by the will of the gods. Not for want of work, or canvas, or cord. That’s a holy vow.

At long last, people employing common sense! If the ship is the only thing keeping you alive in the middle of sea with a hundred feet of water below you, you’d better make sure it doesn’t suddenly decide to up (or down, har har) and sink.

6. Jean is developing more and more as a character as we get further in to the book. Ezri makes the comment to him that “Out here, the past is a currency, Jerome. Sometimes it’s the only one we have.” I think several interesting possibilities are coming into play regarding Jean and Ezri. What about you?

Jean having optics and a beard completely blindsided me (pun entirely intended). For some reason, I’d failed to pay attention to those little details earlier in the book. *revises mental image of Jean, resolves to re-read TLoLL as soon as able*

I think there’s definitely some kind of attraction growing between them right from the moment Ezri takes him down so easily in the captain’s cabin. That is a very intense scene on its own but niftily foreshadows a possible conflict for Jean, too, if the attraction between him and Ezri is mutual. So far, Locke and Jean have been a single unit, a tight-knit thieves’ guild of two since the moment they lost the other Bastards. Locke obviously still pines for Sabetha, but what if Jean develops a relationship with Ezri? How does that fit into their grand plan?

I’m loving the development in Jean, though, and the close look we get into his and Locke’s friendship. There isn’t a thing they wouldn’t do for each other, is there.

7. As we close down this week’s reading, the Thorn of Camorr is back! I love it, even with all the conflict.  Several things from their Camorri background have come back up. Do you think we will see more Camorri characters?

What with the history between Camorr and Tal Verrar, I don’t think Locke ever could have completely shaken off of his past where this heist in particular is concerned.

But. Will people find out that Locke is the infamous Thorn of Camorr? I don’t know. I kind of doubt that would have any relevance to them because while the city of Tal Verrar as a whole may have a bone to pick with Camorr, I can’t see individual pirate groups, let alone pirates, giving a damn. Also, RSURS feels a little too much of a stand-alone story to have any significant ties to TLoLL aside from the obvious.

Whew! Since that was the point where things started to get really interesting, and it’s been Sunday for quite a while where I am, I went ahead and spent four hours reading. (I can’t even remember the last time I read for longer than an hour or two in a row.) Finished it, too, so I’m off to draft the last two posts of this read-along; I promise I’ll try to avoid saying ‘oh my God’ too much!