After The Crown Read Along: Week 2

Everything has gone terribly wrong for Hail and company in this week’s chapters, as King Trace makes his position – and his feelings – regarding the Empire perfectly clear…

Let’s discuss After The Crown. Spoilers below for chapters 10-19.


This week’s questions are courtesy of imyril at There’s Always Room For One More, and here’s a quick reminder of our Read Along schedule:

  • Week 1: Chapters 1-9, questions on/by Friday 5th January (or today even), hosted by Dear Geek Place
  • Week 2: Chapters 10-19, questions on/by Friday 12th January, hosted by There’s Always Room For One More
  • Week 3: Chapters 20-29, questions on/by Friday 19th January, hosted by The Book Nook
  • Week 4: Chapters 30-End, questions on/by Friday 26th January, hosted by Bookforager

And here’s a round-up of posts for Week 1’s discussion:

Dear Geek Place | Ariana at The Book Nook | Mayri at BookForager | Starr K at Pages & Procrastination | imyril at There’s Always Room For One More | Annemieke at A Dance With Books

Right then! On to this week’s thoughts…

Indrana is keen to see a wedding and an Imperial Heir. How well do you think Hail is handling the pressure? Do you approve of her choice of Heir?

I’m not sure Hail really is handling it, in the sense that she’s digging her heels in whenever the subject comes up, literally admitting she doesn’t want to hear about it in Council meetings, etc. Though her choice to name Alice as Heir, at least for the time being, was a move I appreciated – firstly because it got all the old ladies in a lather and that amused me quite a bit, but also because for all that it seems like an offhand decision made on the spot, it shows that Hail really has put some thought into what to do, even if – as with her dealings with her late mother in the first book – it’s only to buy her some time. At least in this case, it isn’t only about getting pushy old women off her back; Alice does seem capable of taking care of business. So I think this is going to be very interesting for them both, and for the Empire, going forward!

“I don’t leave living enemies behind me” – but Hail grants General Prajipati a stay of execution. What’s your take on this decision?

I liked this part a lot, first because – again – it shows that Hail is giving serious consideration to what’s best for the Empire instead of only acting on gut instinct, or out of a need for vengeance. As she points out, Laabh’s and Ganda’s execution was about vengeance. She’s got that. She doesn’t need to go looking for more when it might hurt her goals, moving forward. It’s a very pragmatic approach to resolving this issue, and I think it’s a sign that Hail is going to better at this job than she believes she will.

A devastating ambush looks like a pyrrhic victory for the militant Upjas faction. What do you think they hoped to achieve?

This is why extremists are the worst, whatever their gender. I imagine Christoph thought this was a good way to discredit his opposition, the ones like Taz who want to find a peaceful way to achieve their goals instead of simply trying to destroy the obstacles in their way. But at the same time I suspect all he really cared about was causing as much damage as possible, because to him there was no way to achieve peace – not with women controlling Indrana’s government. The irony of trying so hard to bring down an oppressive governing body that you end up handing them a perfect example of their own point, that men can’t be trusted with power because they can’t think rationally, is so thick I could spread it on toast – but hey, something has to keep things interesting in that arena, right?

The peace summit turns out to be a pretext for another assassination attempt. Now we’ve finally met, what are your thoughts on Trace? How do you think Prime Minister Phanin will steer the Empire in response to Hail’s latest supposed death?

Speaking of the ones who give men a bad name. Hi, Trace. At this stage he really is going all out as the poster boy for irrational men with emotional health issues, isn’t he? Yikes. Though to be fair, this dark mirror he holds up to Hail – of what someone who perceives themself to have lost something or someone important is capable of when they blindly pursue vengeance – is quite the chewy thought nugget, isn’t it?

As for Phanin … I won’t say much on him because that’s coming later, but it’s all downhill for the male characters here, good grief. Thank goodness we have exceptions, though…

Hail’s former mentor provides a fragile lifeline amidst disaster – what are your first impressions of Cheng Hao? Do you trust him? How do you think Po Sin will react?

…Like Hao, for example. First impressions: I won’t lie. I really like him! After what comes before meeting Hao, having a male character on the page who not only doesn’t want to destroy Hail and the Empire but doesn’t even seem to care – at least, not about the Empire – is really refreshing. I think Hao is perhaps not entirely trustworthy, but I also think he has a genuine care for Hail, and that makes him very interesting. Po Sin might be a scarier, less certain matter. But that, too, is for later…


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