Fifth Season Ch 20 & 21

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Chapter 20

Two years have passed. Syenite is bored. She persuades Innon to take her on a raiding trip. Alabaster is afraid that Syenite will leave him and Corundrum. Syenite goes on the ship and assists in a raid. Her orogeny makes her victorious, but she has to drown the survivors to keep Meov secret. There is an interlude of a legend of the first Season. She plugs the volcano at Allia, and is perhaps spotted by a Guardian.

Chapter 21

In a huge surprise, we discover that Essun is Damaya, and hence Syenite. We also discover that Tonkee is Binof, who has been following Damaya/Syenite/Essun for thirty years. Obelisks were traveling towards Tirimo, attracted to Essun and Uche. Hoa reveals he's a stone eater and makes gnomic comments about the stone he's eating. Essun meets Lerna, who tells his story. Hoa tells Essun that Alabaster is in Castrima, and dying.

Questions

  • Is Alabaster a good father and "husband" when he doesn't want to Syenite to go raiding?
  • What does it say aobut Innon's character that he ordered the drowning of the raided sailors? What does it say about Syenite's character that she did it?
  • We finally see a Fulcrum-trained orogene doing what she was trained to do! How does Syenite's ability compare to what else we've seen?
  • What is Hoa eating? Is it really himself? Why is he separated?
  • Essun notes that she is more sarcastic than she used to be. I think we're meant to see that Essun is becoming more like Syenite. Have you, the reader, noticed a change in Essun's character?
  • Essun is now accompanied by people from all three of her previous ages (Tonkee/Binof, Alabaster, Lerna). What do you think will happen next?

Comment

When I first read the book, I was reading it quickly so I was actually shocked by the reveal about Damaya/Syenite/Essun being the same person. My wife had the same reaction when she read it.

Comments

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    I was not surprised at the Essen/Syenite/Damaya = Dynamite reveal, obviously. I was surprised by the Tonkee = Binof reveal, however. For one thing, Binof seemed rather like a throwaway character - we've only seen her once. For seconds, we've been travelling cross country with Tonkee for a while, now - you'd think Essun would have clued in sooner. Anyway, it is what it is. Does it matter if they're the same person? I guess it saves the author having to fill in additional background for Tonkee.

    There was a big sex 3-way scene in the Syenite chapter. It was hard to see its purpose for being there, except to normalize various sexual orientations. This hasn't so far been a book about romance or interpersonal relationships of that kind (more about power struggles), so this felt tacked on to me. But maybe there's a 'power struggle' angle to this I haven't seen yet.

    The obelisks travelling toward her is interesting. Obviously the reason why will be a big reveal later. My sense is that the obelisks have something to so with the hole under Fulcrum, and all of this has something to two with balance or the spin of the earth. Perhaps the obelisks were mined from the hole and now its time to come home?

    Essun is now accompanied by people from all three of her previous ages (Tonkee/Binof, Alabaster, Lerna). What do you think will happen next?

    Shazam! Tectonic Justice League!

    Yes...?

    No...?

    One thing I haven't noticed so far in this book is the influence of H.P. Lovecraft, which I'm sure you've noticed I look for everywhere. 😁

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    Another thing I forgot to mention: why had Fulcrum left active the Allia volcano? They could easily monitor it, and Syenite had no trouble capping it. Why risk another Season?
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    The influence of Lovecraft is subtle, but pervasive! Like Tolkien... :D

    The killing of the sailors reminds me of the smashing of the lifeboats of the sunken Japanese troopship in Run Silent, Run Deep - the captain did it alone on the bridge because he couldn't order his men to do it, and he couldn't allow the soldiers to land - but Innon has Syenite do it. Different culture, different customs.

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    I guess the big question remaining is when and why Syenite left Meov and changed her name. My guess from Hoa's comments is that Corundum died in such a way that A considered S responsible. In passing, "Corundum" is not a very auspicious name as it's primary use is as an abrasive! Pretty much as in the pseudo Latin "Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum"... don't let the bastards grind you down. It has the air of a name an author would give rather than a parent.

    Orogeny is yet again shown to be limited only by the demands of plot. Syenite can affect layers of stone way underground. Alabaster can protect her ship at sea from miles away. S can pull up a shaft of rock from many fathoms below the surface to sink a couple of ships. It's not clear to me that there's any system here other than the "drat, the story's in a bit of a whole, I'd better have progeny solve it". In fact the whole thing increasingly reminds me of the old Batman and Robin TV series, where the dynamic duo were free to invent any old trick as necessary to get out of last week's cliffhanger.

    Of course I do realise this is perilously close to @Apocryphal 's superhero reading! Maybe in fact a written novel is the wrong medium for this story, and it would work far better as a graphic novel? I can easily imagine this in graphic form a la Trigan Empire or Judge Dredd, and in that case the utter disinterest in world building or such like wouldn't matter. It would just be what in fact it is... a bold and unique world filled with wild coincidence and unrestrained action. I wouldn't always be having salmon thoughts if it was a graphic novel, I'd just be delighting in the pageantry of it.

    You'll have guessed that I wasn't won over by all these people from the past randomly assembling. And I could bore everyone with my lack of credulity that Tonkee / Binof really could have done that tracking and projection of the obelisks' paths, given the actual state of science and tech of this world. But that's salmon talk, and I am trying to rethink the book as a serious graphic novel in which considerations of plausibility don't come into it.
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    Replies to multiple posts:

    @Apocryphal said:
    One thing I haven't noticed so far in this book is the influence of H.P. Lovecraft, which I'm sure you've noticed I look for everywhere. 😁

    If the story were Lovecraft-influenced, what would you expect to see?

    @clash_bowley said:
    The killing of the sailors reminds me of the smashing of the lifeboats of the sunken Japanese troopship in Run Silent, Run Deep - the captain did it alone on the bridge because he couldn't order his men to do it, and he couldn't allow the soldiers to land - but Innon has Syenite do it. Different culture, different customs.

    Was it that Innon didn't want the blood on his hands, or that he wasn't capable of the orogeny needed?

    @RichardAbbott said:
    Of course I do realise this is perilously close to @Apocryphal 's superhero reading! Maybe in fact a written novel is the wrong medium for this story, and it would work far better as a graphic novel? I can easily imagine this in graphic form a la Trigan Empire or Judge Dredd, and in that case the utter disinterest in world building or such like wouldn't matter. It would just be what in fact it is... a bold and unique world filled with wild coincidence and unrestrained action. I wouldn't always be having salmon thoughts if it was a graphic novel, I'd just be delighting in the pageantry of it.

    In case you don't know, Jemisin does some writing for graphic novels. I'm not too sure about how much or which came first.

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    edited March 19

    @RichardAbbott - I told you before that I think of this as a comic book without pictures! It works, salmon brother! BTW, Trigan Empire is a great example! :D

    @NeilNjae - We are not told, so I hesitate. Projecting from known bases is what gets one in salmon trouble, after all! But I would guess Innon FELT he would be incapable, whether he was or not, and that feeling was not struggled against too hard, as Innon didn't WANT to be capable of doing the deed... That again is a muppet flail in the dark. I wouldn't put any money on it!

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    > @clash_bowley said:
    > @RichardAbbott - I told you before that I think of this as a comic book without pictures! It works, salmon brother! BTW, Trigan Empire is a great example! :D
    >

    I devoured it weekly as a child, and check out https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1781087555
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    It's available again? Awesome! I have the collected hardcover, and it is great! :D

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    I've had it on preorder since last August or so :)
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