This week’s chapters see Hail go from digging her heels in to stepping up, but not everyone wants her in the picture… Let’s discuss Behind The Throne.
Spoilers follow for chapters 9 through 15.
This week’s questions were put forth by Mayri at The Bookforager! Here’s a quick reminder of the Read Along schedule:
- Week 1: Chapters 1-8, questions posted on or by Thursday 2nd November, hosted by Dear Geek Place
- Week 2: Chapters 9-15, questions on/by Thursday 9th, hosted by Bookforager
- Week 3: Chapters 16-22, questions on/by Thursday 16th, hosted by The Book Nook
- Week 4: Chapters 23 to End, questions on/by Thursday 23rd, hosted by Dear Geek Place
And if you need to catch up on what others thought of the first week’s chapters, here are a few links:
OK, let’s get to the chatting, shall we?
Hail has survived two assassination attempts, the mod-chamber, meetings, briefings and her first public appearance this week. How do you feel our gunrunner is doing as empress-in-waiting so far?
I have very little patience for bratty princess types, so I am deeply appreciating how readily Hail is stepping up to take on her responsibilities here – mainly because she’s doing so while still acknowledging her own misgivings; there is angst and resentment here, but Hail has set herself a goal – to find out who killed her sisters – and if this is the cost, clearly she’ll pay it.
(Whether or not this position of power will corrupt her in some way remains to be seen, but there are two books following this one…)
We’ve been introduced to another long list of characters in these next seven chapters. Do you have any thoughts or feelings to share about Hail’s cousin Ganda, new chamberlain Alba, or anyone else we’ve met this week?
I do so enjoy a capable, unflappable assistant who’s not afraid of violence, so naturally I have fallen for Alba already. Ganda, however … nope, don’t like her. Not one bit. Certainly don’t trust her either. Though I can’t help wondering, just a tiny bit, if maybe Hail’s in for a pleasant surprise where her cousin is concerned? Probably not, but you never know! (Did I mention I remember nothing about this?)
Hail’s past and present relationship with her empress-mother is coming into focus now, just as we learn that the Empress isn’t sick by chance. Has anything you’ve read this week changed your first impressions of these two or the state of the Indranan Empire?
OK, so. Let’s talk about the fact that the Empress is being poisoned, because I did vaguely recall this part of the plot and now that I’m rereading it, I can definitely sympathise more with her, though only up to a point. I get the impression she’s clearly struggling, not just with the enforced degradation of her health (physical AND mental) but with trying to maintain her faculties enough to protect Hail. There’s a moment or two of lucidity that goes beyond her merely not being incoherent; we get glimpses of a woman who’s desperate to keep the future of her family, as well as her Empire, secure. I don’t think it’s as simple as “she loves Hail really, this is her protecting her daughter” – this woman has lived her life as an absolute ruler and it shows in her behaviour, lucid or otherwise. But there’s something more there; she wasn’t always cold-hearted to her children, and that’s what hits me right in my heart.
Hail is expected to marry and get busy making baby girls – which raises more than one issue for her. Thoughts and feelings on how she’s handled this situation, and on this aspect of the matriarchy?
… And this is why things are complicated, heh. Because regardless of whatever deep-hidden Real Feelings she might have where Hail is concerned, those feelings are not entirely warm and fuzzy, are they? It certainly seems as though the Empress’s main concern is for the preservation of her Empire – of her family’s power, if not necessarily her own. Hail’s feelings on the matter don’t seem to have much sway at all, even if she is being lenient for the moment. And honestly – I felt a bit ragey on Hail’s behalf, seeing her have to resort to exploiting her own genuine grief and pain just to get her mother to cut her a break. THIS IS NOT A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP.
And yes, let’s talk about this matriarchy business, because yikes. Women having power is not a be-all and end-all when it comes to rooting out patriarchy; if you’re maintaining a power imbalance, then you’ve become the problem. Even putting aside the matter of Hail’s inability to have children the old-fashioned way, the fact that women are still expected to raise children and uphold traditions of the past … well, let’s just say it does not cover this society in glory, in my eyes. I would not sign up for this.
And on that cheerful note, I’m going to dive back into the reading because THERE IS SO MUCH I WANT TO KNOW (AGAIN). ‘Til next time!