Deus vult: The Sparrow Read-along, Part 3

The natives of Rakhat finally make an appearance, and Giuliani begins making progress, of a sort, with Emilio. My dread is real.

Let’s discuss The Sparrow. Spoilers follow for chapters 20 through 26.



First contact at last! What are your initial impressions of the cultures of Rakhat?

I am deeply intrigued by what we’ve learned here! The distinctions between ‘urban’ and more rural lifestyles, and the immediate familiarity of them, is a clever way of letting us get easily to grips with these cultures, I think, while also highlighting some very alien differences in their ways of life, and of thinking. The ways that even things like grammar and spatial awareness, and how the two are linked, is really fascinating – and I say that as someone who can very easily end up lost and bewildered by technical discussions like this. So it’s very neatly done, and I’m really impressed!


Emilio and Anne have a briefly-serious conversation about faith. How did Emilio’s comments on faith (“some poetry is tragic”) resonate for you – in terms of your own beliefs and/or in terms of what we know the future holds for Emilio?

Oh, man. The more we get to know Emilio, before and after his return to Earth, the more I am destroyed. This scene in particular gave me Feelings, because I feel like it resonated personally for me in a way. I am fully in agreement with Anne in a sense, when she asks why God gets credit when good things happen but is never blamed when bad things happen – but then Emilio has that line about ‘crying God’s tears’ and I had to sit with that for a while.

I still feel like there are some important pieces of this puzzle missing, because I can’t quite connect these timeline dots yet and so much of Emilio is wrapped up in what happened to him and why, and this is where my dread comes in. Because as far as I can tell, sainthood and martyrdom tend to go hand in hand, and that really does not bode well for the end of Emilio’s story.

(There’s more I want to say on that score, but I’m saving it for another question…)


We’ve had many different perspectives on Emilio this week and learnt more about Vincenzo Giuliani. How have your perceptions of these characters and their motivations changed? What outcome do you predict in the present day narrative?

I am seriously grateful that Giuliani seems to have realised his mistakes and changed his approach to dealing with Emilio, because the last thing I wanted this clearly religious character to do was become the bad guy. (Voelker may still do this, but I’ll touch on that more in a bit.) I believe that Giuliani wants to get to the full truth before he decides what to do, which is a good sign, but that doesn’t mean the question of what he will do has been answered; I can’t shake that point from my mind, for some reason.

As for the outcome … I don’t know. I do know I still don’t trust Voelker at all. And as I mentioned before, I’ve got a bad feeling about all of this.


“[Cain] made his sacrifice in good faith. Why did God refuse it?”
There have been some terrible moments for Emilio as he has reflected on his experiences on Rakhat. What do you think he meant when talking to Brother Behr about Sofia – and do you think Ed understood him correctly?

This. THIS. This whole scene was a major “oh, damn” moment for me, and I’m still chewing on it but here’s what I think:

This analogy could apply in a few ways, and it speaks well of the writer’s handling of it that I’m unsure exactly how to interpret Emilio’s question. Which of the Biblical brothers is Emilio, here? Is he Cain, believing himself to have acted in good faith and had his offering (his faithfulness) refused (and later punished)? If so, what did he sacrifice? Is this meant to be taken literally, because we know Emilio is, at the very least technically, guilty of murder?

Or does it refer more indirectly to another kind of sacrifice, given that he and Behr were talking about Sofia at the time? (And believe me, that is an entire kettle of fish that’s still on the boil over here…)

… Or is he the (so far) metaphorical Abel, being sacrificed by ‘Cain’ in the grip of sin after being denied God’s approval VOELKER I AM LOOKING AT YOU?





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