Prepare for war: The Bitter Twins Read-along, Part 1

Life with their war beasts hasn’t been all roses for our heroes since we saw them last. They’re spending more time fighting amongst themselves than preparing to fight their enemies. And then there’s the matter of Hestillion having crossed enemy lines…

Deep breaths. Let’s discuss The Bitter Twins. (Spoilers follow for chapters 1-12.)


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You shall have a war beast and you shall have a war beast and you shall have a war beast! What do you make of the fruits of the Ninth Rain?

THEY ARE SO AMAZING. For real, I am loving the wild imagination that went into the war beasts, and even more than that I love the way Jen Williams has given them each their own distinct personalities and charged their interactions with so much chemistry. This is not a band of brothers, unless you count the kind of brothers who fight constantly. But is there hope that they’ll become a tighter unit? Goodness knows, the fierceness would be off the charts! Honestly, even at this early stage in the book, I’m here for the developments between the war beasts as I am for any progress made by our two-legged protagonists!


…and what’s your take on Vostok’s damning assessment of our heroes after the inglorious battle of Coldreef?

Oh dear.

OK, my nerdy heart adores Vostok because AAAAH DRAGON. But at the same time, oh my goodness she is full of herself. This is what I mean about the war beasts having so much personality, because while a dragon is always going to be awe-inspiring, they’re also (perhaps quite understandably) also going to be egotistical as heck if given a chance, and I suspect that knowing she was the first war beast to be born is all it took in Vostok’s case. She certainly seems willing enough to put herself in the position of leader, as such things go at the moment.

I can see the reasoning behind her assumptions and her logic; she’s the only one who remembers her past lives, and so she assumes she’s the only one who truly comprehends how dangerous their current situation is. So far she could be forgiven for that, given how much time is being spent on bickering and selfish pursuits among the others (Kirune, I’m looking at you). But at the same time I’m wondering if Vostok’s exasperation and presumptive arrogance are hiding some deeper feelings of a more panicky nature? Remembering numerous past lives where you fought the Jure’lia, only to come back again and find that nothing seems to have changed and you have to fight them again, can’t be easy. And knowing that she has to do it alone, in a sense, because it seems none of her brothers and sisters were properly resurrected along with her? Definitely can’t be easy.

… Still. Lay off a little bit, Vostok, jeez.


We learn a lot more about the Jure’lia this week – both as invading enemies and from their own peculiar perspective. What do you think about the worm people and their Queen now you’ve seen them in action? What do you think of Hest’s situation and how she is dealing with it?

OK, here’s the thing. I know I’ve yelled at Hestillion for what she did at the end of the first book, and I will probably continue to yell at her for a while yet, but on the other hand I can definitely understand why she might feel overwhelmed and make a (very poor!) choice based on a desperate urge to survive. She’s thinking of the queen as someone who can be reasoned with, and while as a reader I am sighing very hard at her, I get it. Big dogs and feral cats can be tamed if we just figure out what they want and how to interact with them, right? Surely an alien queen who seems to only want destruction and complete control must have other needs we haven’t figured out yet!

Oh, Hest. Hest, no.

I mean, there are layers here; I suspect her of having a little of the same kind of ego that’s driving Vostok – she wouldn’t have gone with the queen if she didn’t believe that she could get through to her, via the logic I mentioned. Maybe she has good reason, in her own mind, for feeling that way, but this reader can tell it just isn’t going to go the way she wants. She can’t change the queen without risking changing herself as well, and given what the Jure’lia are and what they do, that is not something I see ending in a tea party for all.

As for the queen and the Jure’lia themselves … well, I am not reassured by this new depth of understanding. To put it mildly. If I was creeped out before, and oh boy I was so creeped out, it’s only gotten worse now. Finding out about that thing in the gestation pool (no I will not call it a person) makes a horrifying sort of sense, if you look at it from the queen’s perspective. If the Jure’lia are so terrifying because of their forms, then surely a more familiar form will be less scary. Right?


Hest, get out of there. Get out now. ARGH.


We see more Eborans too – from the horrors they inflicted during the Carrion Wars to the devastating impact of the Crimson Flux. How sympathetic are you to Ebora and its people (dead and alive)? What are your first impressions of our new Eboran characters?

Oh, man. Eri and Nanthema are definitely cranking up the sympathy meter for me, in their own very distinct ways. Seeing Eri go from this lonely little boy dragging a bucket of HIS FATHER’S BONES around with him, to having a living, breathing war beast friend to laugh and play with just about broke my heart, in the best way. Nanthema’s return to her home was equally as affecting, but in a very different way. That was SO TENSE. And … maybe this is wrong of me but I am the only one who wonders if maybe the death of her parents was perhaps not quite as self-inflicted as she claimed?

I’m not sure what to make of her, just yet. We’ll see, but I will be furious if she hurts Vintage in any way.


Other Thoughts

Bern + Aldasair forever. FOREVER. I want kissing. Lots of it. Bloody hell, all they’ve really done so far is have conversations and not quite have Meaningful Looks and I am swooning fit to fall out of this chair. LET THEM FIND HAPPINESS IN ONE ANOTHER’S ARMS ALREADY.

Ahem. Yeah, that’s all I want. And on that note, I’m going to keep reading.

If you missed out on the Read-along for The Ninth Rain, you can find my posts here! And if you’ve read that book, or even this one already, and want to join in, it’s not too late! You can find details on the reading/posting schedule over on Goodreads.

The hosting duties for Part 2 will be taken up by yours truly, so look out for my questions/prompts in a couple of days! ONWARD.



3 comments On Prepare for war: The Bitter Twins Read-along, Part 1

  • Oh man, I never thought about Vostok from that point of view either – now I think I feel kind of sorry for her (if she’d just lay off a bit).
    Hmmm, I am feeling a little uneasy about Nanthema too. I don’t know why, but she’s just making me worry a bit. And yes, if she hurts Vintage in any way she’s going to be in a world of pain!


    Oh, Eri. I’m still saying this a lot at the end of week two. Oh, Eri. My poor battered heart. Serve it with chips, why don’t you Ms Williams.

    …I am not as suspicious as you about Nan’s parents, woah. That would be.. gosh. Okay. Recalibrating.

    I had also not considered Vostok from battling with anxiety over it being ALL ON HER but I like it. To go from being one of hundreds, to being one of four – five with Helcate, as she doesn’t know about Celaphon – and the only one with a clue must be terrifying, The pressure. Welp.

    • Re: Nan’s parents – I’m not sure I’m buying completely into that theory, but I had to mention it. It was the first place my brain went while reading that scene; something about her behaviour just made me uneasy? But, we’ll see. 😉

      Oh god, what is Vostok going to make of Celaphon?! AAAAAAH

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