Hi all. I am using Curse as a bookclub selection on July 10th at 6:30 pm at the Mission Branch Library in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. I asked Janny if she would like for me to highlight anything in particular about the book and she was awesome enough to send me discussion questions, bookmarks and a door prize.
Now I have a question for you guys. Would you like for me to bring anything up to my attendees regarding anything in particular that struck you about the book? Or did you have a burning question that you have just been dying to ask a newbie to the series? Now is your chance. And if you happen to be in the Kelowna area next month drop in to the bookclub. I would love to have you! And did I mention bookmarks sent by Janny???? Thanks.
Ok guys. I had the bookclub now I have some questions for you to answer with regards to your first read of COTM. These were designed by Janny who was great enough to share them with me for the bookclub attendees. Now it's your turn. Let's see who can be the first to post their answers! And..... go!
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS, Curse of the Mistwraith
1) If you didn't know both sides of the coflict, how would you view Lysaer as a protagonist? Would Arithon be the villain Dakar claims? Did you believe everything you were told about the characters, and which were unreliable narrators?
2) Dakar - How did you feel about him? Criminal shirker, or sympathetic fool. What might he be running away from?
3) Do the Fellowship Sorcerers have a reason for being so secretive?
How does the agenda of the Koriathain differ from the Sorcerers, and do you think you might agree with them?
4) Did you agree with the Fellowship's choice to shield Arithon during the mistwraith's confinement? Are they manipulating the half brothers, and what problems do you imagine may spring from their influence?
5) How much is history written by the victor? Did this story make you think, or revise what you may believe about history, wars, and human conflict in general?
6) Does 'might make right'? And how much does claiming the ends justify the means come to cost?
7) What was the most poignant moment in the story for you? Did you laugh? Did you cry? What may have made you shout aloud?
8) Who was your favorite character, and why?
9) How did you find the writing style, did it grow on you, or frustrate? Did you find it made the impact more graphic or were you distracted? Did you encounter words you did not know, and if so, did you define them by context, skim over them, or look them up?
10) At what point did the story come alive for you?
11) What is the impression that remains, and what do you remember most after closing the last page?
12) Was this your first fantasy read, and if so, how did it change or confirm your preconceptions of the genre? If you read fantasy already, how did this book fit your expectations, and if it differed, how might it have diverged from other fantasy you've encountered?
Whew, that's quite a list! I'll give it a try.
1) I liked both princes. I didn't much like Dakar, and he was the most unreliable narrator after Arithon who constantly contrived to put his worst foot forward.
2) I saw Dakar as an unmitigated coward who needed to grow up.
3) I wasn't sure how I felt about the F7 at first. I thought they had too much power, which so easily corrupts. I also wondered at their agenda. The Koriathain are easy to hate, so no contest. I was just uneasy about the F7.
4) At first I agreed with their decision to shield Arithon, but later wasn't so sure. And yes, I thought they had a secret agenda and were manipulating the brothers, which made it hard to trust them.
5) Well I'm already a big skeptic about written history and I already hate war and violence, so if anything, my beliefs were confirmed.
6) No, might never makes right and the ends never justify the means. The cost is too painfully high. Hence, Lysaer's slaughter of the women and children.
7) The most poignant moment was when Arithon soothed the souls of the dead for their passage to the beyond. I cried at the battle. Shouted at Lysaer, and also grieved his loss.
8) Arithon is my favorite character in his complexity, and his compassion. He also aggravates the fire out of me.
9) The writing style was a struggle for me at first, but it grew on me and then became part of the rhythm and beauty of the story.
10) I'm not sure when it came alive -- perhaps when Lysaer aimed his 'light' at Arithon in the plaza at Etarra.
11) Impression that remains is a feeling of being overwhelmed by the power of the story and the tragedy and poignancy of the ending.
12) No, it wasn't my first fantasy read, and it changed my feelings so that I now expect far more from a fantasy novel than just a good story.
PS How was the book discussion at your library?
It didn't go nearly as well as I had hoped. Lots of people had checked out the book but only 1 person, a regular, showed up. She did like the book thought, which was great since she was not a sci fi/fantasy fan at all. She was actually quite surprised at how much she enjoyed it and though she didn't finish it does plan on finishing it later and reading the rest of the series. Hopefully the people that checked out the book enjoyed it and will continue reading Janny's works! Thanks for asking.
Hi! I'm so late to this but feel compelled to respond to the questions.
1) I take it your question means that we get either Lysaer’s or Arithon’s POV. In that situation, even if what I had was Lysaer’s POV, I think I still wouldn’t really see Lysaer as “a purely good guy”, although I would definitely feel sorry for him as a tragic figure and hope that he will eventually “see the light” (heh heh). We see enough of his choices and stubbornness in the book for that.
I can’t really understand Dakar’s animosity towards Arithon. Right from the beginning, before he ever set eyes on Arithon, he already had decided he was in support of a s’Ilessid prince, and right from the start he was prejudiced against Arithon. It’s true that Arithon did nothing to endear himself, but one would think that after a couple centuries’ worth of apprenticeship to Asandir, Dakar would have given the sorcerer’s opinion much more weight.
I tend to believe the narrative voice because of the Prologue. The tale purports to be a true telling of the happenings. There is only one narrative voice (that of the sages undertaking the visions), in my understanding, though it seems to shift among different characters’ POVs. In my opinion it might be because each seer focuses on or is aligned to a different character at different times during their long exercise in uncovering what really happened during the Wars. As such, there is no unreliable narrator – only unreliable perspectives from the characters they are following. And ALL perspectives are therefore unreliable, because experience is subjective.
2) I think he’s much more complicated than we would like to think. It’s very obvious (to me at least) that the lazy, alcoholic, obnoxious parts of his personality are not easy to define as being “him” or “a cover”. He’s clearly not stupid. I think he’s afraid of responsibility.
3) Everything happens for a reason, in my opinion, whether in real life or on a page. I await further unveiling of the mystery by Ms Wurts. As a writer myself (though I’ve learned that fiction is Really Not My Thing), I accept that mystery is all a part of the game and that a writer like Janny really doesn’t do things without reason.
I personally feel more aligned with the Fellowship than the Koriathain. Control and power without concern for the big picture and care for the environment (all living things are innocents we should steward, not just innocent fellow humans) are just not my cup of tea.
4) Based on what they knew at the time, there didn’t seem to be any better choice. Hindsight is nearly always painful; that much is clear in the aftermath of the disastrous not-coronation at Etarra. They didn’t know and therefore couldn’t have made the right choice (to shield Lysaer instead of Arithon).
Of course they are manipulating them, in my opinion. They’re fallible beings with free choice, themselves (although how far that extends, I don’t clearly know). How conscious this manipulation is is another question altogether.
5) If you mean “history” as “official records” then in my opinion, it’s always written by the victor in terms of might/power. I have long felt that one must have access to the opinions on both (all?) sides of any conflict; I can’t recall when this seed of understanding first fell into my head. It must have been from some other SF or fantasy story that I read as a child. When I picked up on WoLaS, I had a gut-deep response to it because I felt it was everything I always needed and wanted to explore, in a safe medium. It’s both deepened and broadened my thoughts on this very complicated topic.
6) Might never makes right. Although I would say that in some circumstances, right translates into a kind of might. Heh. And I don’t believe that “the ends justify the means” is at all ethical. To me, the journey is as important as the destination, because the decisions made along the way affect so much more than just “a certain bunch of things coming to pass in a certain way at a certain time”.
7) This is my second read, but I’m only halfway through and my first read was about six or seven years ago, so… at this point, I’m leaning towards Arithon’s panicked rush from the guest chamber in Etarra after hearing Dakar’s prophecy, when he says to Dakar that if he ever bore any love for Lysaer he should keep Lysaer away from him.
8) As of my last reading (and I got up to Fugitive Prince) it was Arithon, hands down. Now, I am finding it very hard to choose among Arithon, Asandir and Sethvir. They’re complicated. It’s complicated. Heh.
9) I love it. Janny’s writing is the style that I most tried to copy when I was misguidedly trying to become a fiction author myself (I’ve since seen sense). No, I never had a problem with her vocabulary; I’ve been a voracious reader since I was three, and I was a strange child who, when faced with the problem of having no more new books at home to read, would read the dictionary and the thesaurus.
10) From the moment that Arithon made his first escape attempt. I have a weakness for thin, pale, black-haired and black-eyed, sharp and difficult male protagonists.
11) “This is getting really complicated.” I tend to mull things over for hours after, with specific scenes and events only rising up from the swirl of feeling, after I’ve had time to relax a bit. Reading is a very involved activity for me, emotionally.
12) Far from my first. VERY far. It’s far exceeded my hopes and expectations with regards to what makes a good fantasy. Other than Janny I think the only other author I hold in such high regard is CJ Cherryh, though that’s more SF than fantasy.