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The Library at Mount Char
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2016 Book Club Discussions > October 2016: The Library at Mount Char - What does everyone think of the last act?

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Brian (scintus) | 1 comments So, now that many people have probably finished the book (its not especially long), I thought I would try to get some more analysis going.

By the last act, I mean everything after Carolyn defeats David and takes control of the Library. I think this part was pretty interesting and I like what it was going for - protagonist becomes a psychopath in order to win, and then has to learn how to not be a psychopath - but I do think it was a lot less tense than previous acts. Everything prior to this point was pretty gripping and exciting, but the last act... wasn't. I really liked the concept of it, but somehow it didn't fully work for me.

Another point: Father says he has control over time and can redo actions to try new outcomes. OK, so I assume Carolyn either has that power, or can work it out using the Library. In that case, wouldn't it makes sense to redo the black sun, such that billions of people DIDN'T die of starvation? I get that Carolyn was callous and ignorant of normal morals, but I think it would have helped her redemption if she felt bad about literally killing BILLIONS of people, and set out to undo that in a better way than what we got.

So how did everyone feel about Father? Was he justified in his atrocities, or was he still a villain? I find myself conflicted on this; the bull was pretty horrific (all the more so because it really existed https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazen_...).

Andorion (ruineleint) | 12 comments A few thoughts on this:

I love the last section. To me, it is the heart and soul of the book. It is where we understand that what happened previously had meaning and a pattern, It finally allows us to enter the mind of the enigmatic Carolyn. It allows Steve to finally exert his agency.

I think that its a bit off the point to describe Carolyn as a psychopath. She simply does not care about the outside world. She is indifferent to it. She would much rather spend time on her research. To me this is extremely scary and a continuation of the dark-twisted ness of the narrative.

1. Regarding the Black Sun, I think there can be two answers:

a. Reversal of time to the point where she is not the master of the Library is dangerous/impossible, so Carolyn cannot reverse the Black Sun.

b. Carolyn does not care. She did what she did because of Steve, Because Steve was her heart coal and she had to act. And the easiest solution she could think of was the one she implemented.

2. Regarding Father it should be noted that all the actions of his we read about after he took the children in were geared to make sure Carolyn became his successor. So the Bull and resultant effect on David was a part of that. He was definitely an ends-before-means person. However it should be noted how quickly things began to go ff the rails when he was not in charge - tentacled horrors, cold darkness - all civilisation ending events.

message 3: by Victor (last edited Oct 10, 2016 09:53PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Victor | 22 comments I think that what this book tries to convey in its essence is that morals, from a God's point of view, are irrelevant. You have a playground, that you want to keep as tidy as possible. If another kid enters it and shoves the sand around a bit you just kick him away and rebuild your sand castle as well as possible.

That's why Carolyn was somehow annoyed that Steve kept suiciding for a problem that people could adjust or evolve themselves to cope with while she was busy enough with establishing her protection upon her ignorant subjects.

You have to admit that when you have the universe next to your barbecue grill things take on a new perspective.

The bull. Well when I first encountered this character I knew that it'll sing a lot to us and that it'll make or break Gods. I'm glad I wasn't disappointed and its lesson to us is that "With great power comes great responsibility" and using it, the author poses a vital question to all its readers: are you willing to enter its belly to emerge a God? Can you assume a moral high ground without entering it?

I think the Bull is the main character of the story and it's silent majesty is what's stopping us from judging godhood too harshly.

P.S.: As for your question about undoing the black sun I think it it would have been impossible without resurrecting Daniel and that was not an option. She found an elegant solution eventually after she solved more pressing matters for her.

Morgan Beldyk | 8 comments Well, I gotta say, as much as 2016 has famously been a trainwreck, at least we haven't had the sun destroyed and replaced with an evil dark torture sun. Yet.

Regarding why she didn't undo it, I think Steve knowing that he was the one who changed her mind, he was the one to save the world, was the only thing that would make him happy enough to become the new nice-sun. If there was no peril to save the world from, he wouldn't have been able to enter the plane of joy. At least that's how I saw it.

Lark | 5 comments I essentially agree with most of what Arkadeb said. I absolutely loved the ending because it wrapped everything up as it should have been. Everything truly became full circle. Where Carolyn becomes a monster, and Seth is not a pawn or a puppet, but completely human and self-sacrificing. And when he becomes the Sun, I was like YES. This is everything. We see what Father had to do as well to get to that point. For her to give him up to the world like that - that is a turning point for her as well.

message 6: by Jack (new) - rated it 1 star

Jack Lanigan | 9 comments Really didn't find myself enjoying the ending. While I think I'd enjoy spending some time thinking about the implications of the power of godhood and how somebody like Carolyn might handle it, I didn't like the key parts of the plot execution. When you've got several characters relying on (and succeeding with) plans that challenge the ridiculousness of a Death Note level of prior planning I lose interest rather quickly.

Didn't help that I wasn't all into what came beforehand but that's a different topic for a different time.

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

I was disappointed with the last act of the book. There weren't really any stakes and too much important action happened off screen.

Carolyn avoided saving the people of earth because she needed to solidify her control of the library. She plans and schemes. Presumably she studies more catalogs, performs a ritual or two. But we never seen any of that.

Steve's sudden messiah complex was out of nowhere, too. One minute he's grumpy about the black sun, the next he's coming back from Africa with a sure fire plan to out maneuver God, who got the job by out maneuvering the previous guy?

Then Father giver Carolyn the Black Folio. We didn't get many details on what was involved with the process but that immediately removes the little remaining tension the story had and puts Carolyn firmly in the Mary Sue category. The ability to alter the past combined with the ability to move really really fast means Carolyn, or Father for that matter, can't possibly be beaten unless they allow it.

I am not a big fan of the storytelling devices the author chose either. The plan within a plan within a plan is cheap copout. Stringing the reader along with vague dialog and artificial tension is lazy. Let's set up a preposterously tenuous set of coincidences and then tell the reader it was part of the plan all along. Even Steve got in on the action in the end.

And then there is Father. Clearly he is not omnipotent because it took him at least ten tries to find a replacement. But he never bothers to explain why being subjected to such a horrific and traumatic set of circumstances was important. Why did he need to put David and then Carolyn through all of that? Why couldn't he simply bring her on as an apprentice, show her the ropes, and hand her the keys on the way out? She needed to be stone cold to defeat David, but she needs to defeat David because that's part of Father's succession plan. But none of the actual mechanics of the library seem to require being ruthless. In fact the traits that Carolyn needed to pass Father's arbitrary tests were the exact opposite traits she needed to successfully hold the library.

Travis (tctippens) | 47 comments Two small things that I really enjoyed about the last act:

1) Throughout the story, I was surprised by how little agency Father had. It just didn't make sense to me that you have this arguably godlike figure that was taken out fairly easily. Then, it was revealed that Carolyn taking control of the library was Father's plan all along. Sure, she got the better of him and killed him through surprise, but her means and motive to do so were manufactured by Father.

2) Subtle foreshadowing from earlier in the text takes on a whole new level of meaning in the last act. For instance, consider the quote from one of the early chapters:

"But her fingertips trembled with the memory of faint, fading vibrations carried down the shaft of a brass spear, and in her heart the hate of them blazed like a black sun."

The imagery evoked by the black sun turns out to be absolutely literal. Carolyn hated David so much she literally turned him into a black sun of anguish.

message 9: by Sam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sam | 13 comments The last act was a contradiction for me. I really enjoyed it, and I felt that having a book tackle the aftermath of someone who sacrificed their own humanity to attain a goal was really interesting. It did slow the book down so that was a slight negative, but we so rarely get to see a character's fall from grace turn into a redemption arc that I really enjoyed it.

I was disappointed initially that Carolyn's plan seemed to be made on purpose by Father but I definitely think it fits the story better. After the end that we got I wouldn't be upset with a sequel either.

Either way it was a fantastic read!

message 10: by W (new) - rated it 5 stars

W (wmts) | 2 comments I loved and hated the last act. I appreciated all the loose strings being wrapped up, but I felt like the edge of my seat feeling I'd had throughout the book was gone.

Steve suddenly having a savior complex was a little too convienent for me. I don't feel like the book leading up to there really pointed toward that being realistic.

I did like that Father came back, but his explanation left me puzzled. He put her through hell, but somehow wanted her to come out retaining her humanity? Seems like he would have been much better served by making her an apprentice and teaching her everything from the start.

Overall I liked the book a lot! If I wasn't reviewing it to come chat with you lovely people about it I would have walked away just thinking about how much I enjoyed this book.

Andrew | 6 comments I liked the last act. It was a good chance to go through the consequences of Carolyn's actions and force her to actually deal with them.

Normally, the story would finish with Carolyn defeating David and winning the keys to the kingdom, but without any idea about what she's going to do with them. And for a start, she doesn't know what to do with the library either (she knows what she can do, but has no real desire to do anything besides study more and prepare to face Father's enemies). And then she was forced to look at things happening outside the library and start on a redemption arc.

Steve's suicide complex was weird though...

message 12: by Phoebe (last edited Oct 24, 2016 09:11PM) (new) - added it

Phoebe Prince (HDLynn) | 11 comments Arkadeb wrote: "A few thoughts on this:

I love the last section. To me, it is the heart and soul of the book. It is where we understand that what happened previously had meaning and a pattern, It finally allows u..."

My biggest complaint with the book was that I felt the characters were distant throughout the first half. That was intentional, but still. It really did feel more like reading a thriller than a fantasy. The 'last act' pacing put things into perspective, even if it was less gripping and more predictable. I wondered if Carolyn would come back from the edge or if Steve was the 'real' protagonist. It could be red either way where you could see either Carolyn or Steve as 'the hero', but I think this story really defied having any 'good' character with truly heroic traits.

Jack wrote: "When you've got several characters relying on (and succeeding with) plans that challenge the ridiculousness of a Death Note level of prior planning I lose interest rather quickly. "

Lol yes. This. Everyone was playing a stupidly long con, which made everyone else's stupidly long con less impressive. First, it's Carolyn. Then, it's Erwin. Then, it's Steve. Then, it's Father. Then it's...Carolyn again? I kind of was waiting for Steve to kill Carolyn after she had gone full god/monster. Also, Father being in total control all along was predictable, but it wrapped up Carolyn's emotional arc in a positive way. The story was so dark at every point until that moment, so while I was hoping for a truly unrelenting ending, it was nice to 'know' Carolyn as a character.

Hannah | thebookwormsfeast (thebookwormsfeast) I don't have much experience doing these sorts of things - my friends don't read much, I found I liked books only a couple of years ago, and didn't participate much in English classes. So it seems a little odd for me to start dwelling on stuff. This'll be short and sweet, but a start for me!

I personally loved the book. Sure it felt a little too neat an ending, but I guess with the whole premise of what they can do with the information in the catalogues it suits it. I felt a little let down that ‘father’ had planned it all along, but I really liked how it revealed. The amount of long-cons that occurred within the story were maybe a bit much, but once again I feel it was justified in the story. If you’re going to not really age etc. then it probably doesn’t seem that long in the grand scheme of things.

message 14: by Tom (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom (tommmmmh) I was surprised with steves fate and how everything tiurned out. The writing was fluid and the story was imaginative. Definitely enjoyed reading this one.

message 15: by Bobbi (new) - added it

Bobbi (aadaenyaa) | 1 comments I got the impression that the reason Father did all the things he did was to make Caroline into the person she was. If he didn't do the things he did, she would have never become strong enough to take over from him and defeat David, who as his actual son, should have been his successor. He was forging her.

message 16: by Drew (new) - rated it 4 stars

Drew Abendroth | 9 comments I'm not really sure how I feel about this book. On the one hand, I went through it really quickly with a lot of eagerness to find out what happened next. The suspense really glued me to the page. On the other hand, I feel almost cheated by the neatness of the ending. I went from reading a story about the apocalypse to something more akin to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where the factory was originally supposed to go to Augustus.

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