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2017 Book Discussions > The Library at Mount Char: Part II: Interlude IV-Epilogue & Final Thoughts (Oct 2017)

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message 1: by Ami (last edited Oct 23, 2017 06:34PM) (new)

Ami | 335 comments Some Final Thoughts and Questions
"The Library at Mount Char" is described as a sci-fi/fantasy & horror novel, discussing earlier how other genres may also be fitting. As you turned the last page, do feel the same, or is it more of a mixed bag instead of a single genre...What are some of these other genres you would use to describe it?


The all-mighty Father, all-knowing, and all consuming...Knew everything would come to light except for if he would be resurrected, it was a major gamble on his part, Yes, no...What do we make of this revelation and what Carolyn's role ended up being?

Father used draconian influenced punishments to teach his children important lessons in the ways of the Third Age, even putting David and Carolyn through tyrannical trials; however, by the end of the novel what we thought to believe, wasn't; and what we may not have realized, was, regarding Father...Or was it?

The Librarians were all gifted with extraordinary powers, with some seeking absolute power like Father. In the end, what is it about some of the characters in "The Library at Mount Char" that enables them to remain good in the presence of this absolute power? This question in part was taken from a Q & A with Scott Hawkins.

And Finally... What did you find the most shocking in this novel?


This will be the thread to post for the remainder of Part II and and your Final Thoughts. Please do not feel obligated to answer any of the questions posted above if you have already posted your final thoughts prior to my posting them.


message 2: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2306 comments This was a pretty fast read, so I don't think another thread is needed. I do have a couple of thoughts about how the book ended.

First has to do with Steve. He does seem to like to throw himself into saving people (I include the lions here) and does it over and over. So why did he not do that for his friend who was helping him steal the drugs? That seems out of character. And what does Caroline's decision to make him the new sun say about her?

Second has to do with Father. He was a terrible "parent" figure but a pretty good "Old Testament" kind of god. But what I wonder about most are what were the rules of the universe that made him want to retire as "ruler" and go create a new universe?


message 3: by Bethany (new)

Bethany I think that Steve's decision not to save his friend is actually what cemented the martyr complex into his personality. He had the tendency to self-sacrifice, but losing his friend for his own gain left a pretty deep wound.
I was actually happy to see that the father had this planned. It made more sense than that he just decided one day in the 70's that he wanted to retire. As I was listening to the end of the second section (read as an audiobook), I was pretty upset to see how thoughtless Carolyn was. She had no plans in place for humanity. She cared so much about Steve, but couldn't really related to the human race? That didn't make sense. When I learned more of the multiple times Father had changed the past, testing each of the children until finding the best outcome, it made more sense that Carolyn was able to beat everyone with no thought to the future. His death/retirement had been tested and planned for--the aftermath, not so much.


message 4: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2306 comments Bethany, your thoughts in respect to my question about Steve make sense.

Quite true that father had not given much thought to the aftermath of his death/retirement. Good that he left a path that, with some luck, Caroline would find and follow to find out what had happened and be able to re-evaluate her actions. Cannot say, however, that I liked learning that he had done this seven or so times previously in an attempt to see if David could be developed into the monster needed to take him out. While I thought this was a very creative book and well-plotted, it was also full of brutality. I enjoyed it only because I considered it completely imagined with no connection to reality!


message 5: by Ami (last edited Oct 22, 2017 03:45PM) (new)

Ami | 335 comments LindaJ^ wrote: "This was a pretty fast read, so I don't think another thread is needed. I do have a couple of thoughts about how the book ended.

First has to do with Steve. He does seem to like to throw himself ..."


So why did he not do that for his friend who was helping him steal the drugs? That seems out of character.
He was a kid, a young kid, when this incident occurred...If I'm not mistaken, he was only sixteen years old? He's the product of an environment manipulated by God to set off a course of events that would give Him an heir. It's not only mythological in nature, but has now transcended into something of biblical proportions. I'm not sure he's built enough character at sixteen to relegate his actions, or rather his inaction, to it being out of character. In fact, that incident was just one part to the puzzle of an awakening in Steve; specifically, it was the death of Jack that draws out the guilt; thus, is the genesis of the martyr complex. Father says in so many words on page 364...
Some people have an enormous capacity for feeling guilt, deserved or otherwise. The bit with his friend dying cemented it.
And what does Caroline's decision to make him the new sun say about her?Oh, I loved this part, it was so poignant that she did this for him...And the universe at large. I found there to be an association between Steve being Carolyn's heart coal, and Steve ordained as the Sun, an entity from which all living things require in order to survive. In Father's own words...
I must send you into exile, that you may be the coal of her heart. No real thing can be so perfect as memory, and she will need a perfect thing if she is to survive. She will warm herself on the memory of you when there is nothing else, and be sustained (356).
Steve's always been the fuel to fire up Carolyn, he was the passion that was ignited within her, he was her source of energy, the driving force behind her plotting and scheming, the book he gave her when only just children, the reissak ayrial.

Carolyn making Steve the sun, is a turning point for Carolyn because she's allowing Steve to now serve not only her as a memory, but humanity as well as a life source...She realizes he's become a powerful and leading figure in his own right, that he can no longer be contained by her (think about her shock when Naga refers to Steve as My Lord Hunter (324), protecting him, and not her). It's at this point she begins to consider the plight of the reality she created. It's a full circle moment, her heart no longer resembles the heart Hawkins describes her to have at the end of Chapter 2...
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.
She showed David mercy by allowing him to die instead of an eternal after-life of anguish as the black sun, and replaced him with Steve.


message 6: by Ami (last edited Oct 22, 2017 03:19PM) (new)

Ami | 335 comments LindaJ^ wrote: "Bethany, your thoughts in respect to my question about Steve make sense.

Quite true that father had not given much thought to the aftermath of his death/retirement. Good that he left a path that,..."


Bethany wrote: "I think that Steve's decision not to save his friend is actually what cemented the martyr complex into his personality. He had the tendency to self-sacrifice, but losing his friend for his own gain..."

His death/retirement had been tested and planned for--the aftermath, not so much.
I may have misunderstood your point, but I understood Father to have given thought to the aftermath of his death/retirement considering the point he makes using the notion of regression completeness? He tells Carolyn, that he didn't create the universe, instead, just leaving his mark on it by making improvements. He's proven regression completeness in knowing that nobody will understand the whole thing, including him...And so, he's going to leave and create his own universe with Nobununga and Mithraganhi in tow (367-68). Is this not a plan for his retirement?

it made more sense that Carolyn was able to beat everyone with no thought to the future.
With no thought to the future because he knew how she would operate...Right? Father's conversation with Carolyn following the subject of the regression completeness, entailed him saying, you'll do well to Carolyn, and that he didn't' know for a fact that she would resurrect him, but that he "had faith in her" she would (371-72). God having faith in his child, that she would endure and prevail in the trials he set before her.

Were you surprised by the civility exhibited between father and daughter, while he answers all of her questions? He apologizes and claims there was no other way regarding his brutal and caustic ways, accompanied by a delivery nothing short of being kind and sympathetic. It's completely antipodal from what I understood of him from Part I.


Evelina | AvalinahsBooks (avalinahsbooks) | 116 comments I would say that this book is definitely a genre-bender. And why do we have to label everything anyway? I've found that the best stories are usually those we can't quite pin down - like this one.

As for Father always knowing - that makes perfect sense to me. How could a being who's lived 60 000 years be so easy to overpower and fool? A being who knows everything about everyone, even what you're thinking, wouldn't know that a 16 year old brat sneaks into the Library to study outside of her catalog?.. Such stuff only happens in badly written examples of young adult fiction to so-called 'special snowflakes'. And there's another reason why I really like that kind of ending - it means that the world isn't as ruthless and it was shown to be. You realize that 'the monster' had to put his friend onto the plane of joy to make her a sun. That there's just no other way. And you then realize that sometimes you just don't know the full picture.

Linda - I think Steve didn't save his friend because the whole incident with him ended up making him this way - it influenced him to start saving people because he felt so guilty. It shaped his entire personality.

God spot about Father being the Old Testament kind of god! I like to feel that maybe Father got tired of this cut-throat reality and maybe doesn't want to live in one like that anymore. At least it seems like he's not really the monster he's had to be to keep this world running and maybe he wants to stop being forced to be that way.

I believe that Carolyn's last lesson was about realizing that Father wasn't who she pictured him to be (or rather, who he wanted to be seen as). Because she only saw this much of reality, she only planned for it (also, imagine coping with all that horror in your life - what would you become? You would go mad!) Once Carolyn knew the whole picture, she rearranged her priorities.

I believe Carolyn making Steve the sun also is symbolic of letting him go. It's also giving him the best possible existence, really - no other human being gets to be in the plane of joy, basically, forever.

The way they talked after the resurrection also made total sense to me. It was because they were both sort of 'off stage' at that point. Both knew what had really happened and what everyone's actual motives were.

I really enjoyed this book! Thank you for pushing me forward to read it :)


message 8: by Ami (last edited Oct 31, 2017 08:35PM) (new)

Ami | 335 comments Evelina | AvalinahsBooks wrote: "I would say that this book is definitely a genre-bender. And why do we have to label everything anyway? I've found that the best stories are usually those we can't quite pin down - like this one.

..."


I would say that this book is definitely a genre-bender. And why do we have to label everything anyway?
Your comment made me smile. Honestly, it's such a mixed-bag of genres for me. In the end, I find The Library at Mount Char to be about love, and found it to be philosophical as well. In fact, if it weren't for these sub-genres, Evelina, I wouldn't have liked it as much. I loved the love the story between Carolyn and Steve...How she makes him the Sun. It was a full circle moment for the two lovers, and the novel as a whole.

And there's another reason why I really like that kind of ending - it means that the world isn't as ruthless and it was shown to be.
Or maybe that it is just that ruthless, but we don't have to live our lives in that manner, it doesn't have to serve as our status quo?

also, imagine coping with all that horror in your life - what would you become?
You would become David, wouldn't you...Or Margaret? I remember reading something Hawkins said about choice, or the absence of, how it shapes us in the presence of absolute power (essentially the answer to the question I took in part from one of his Q & A's).
I’m a big believer in personal choice and personal responsibility, but there’s also a part of me that feels like a condescending prick every time this sort of topic comes up. It’s easy for me to say things like “well, I think that to a large degree the life that you have is determined by the choices that you make,” while I’m sitting in my non-war-torn suburb in my prosperous nation. Possibly I’ll go out and see a movie later today, I haven’t decided. I’m sure the impoverished kid reading this in the ghastly slum of wherever will take all sorts of comfort in the wisdom of my words.

To answer your question, I think that Carolyn ultimately made a conscious choice to err on the side of not being a jerk. It’s that simple. She could have been a much bigger asshole than she was, but she chose not to be. Probably that choice was influenced by a lot of things — genetics, upbringing, prior experience — but it was also a choice. It was explicitly stated in the book that David, under the exact same circumstances, didn’t do as well.

So, to the degree that Carolyn put herself into a position where she could make choices, and then went on to make the good choice and not the bad one, I think she is to be congratulated. Yay Carolyn.

That said, I also believe that it’s a little patronizing to imply that everyone has the same opportunity to make choices. That’s where Margaret comes in. To me, Margaret is the soul of the book. By all accounts, she was a nice kid, but she never really had a chance. Father straight-up ruined Margaret, on purpose, so that his speshul snowflake — Carolyn — could be warned by Margaret’s example on the way to making this excellent, morally uplifting choice that she ultimately made.

Yay Carolyn.

So I think some people simply make gentler and wiser choices than others. But it’s also important to not be born as one of the Margarets of the world.


It's also giving him the best possible existence, really - no other human being gets to be in the plane of joy, basically, forever.
Beautiful.

I really enjoyed this book! Thank you for pushing me forward to read it :)
I'm glad you enjoyed this book, I loved that you decided to be a part of the process. I thoroughly enjoyed your participation. Thank you!


Evelina | AvalinahsBooks (avalinahsbooks) | 116 comments I think I would actually become Peter or Jennifer. Peter was in constant anxiety and Jeniffer found her own ways to escape. But I guess you never know! Carolyn's strength really is inspiring. She is fit to be a god.


message 10: by Ami (new)

Ami | 335 comments Evelina | AvalinahsBooks wrote: "I think I would actually become Peter or Jennifer. Peter was in constant anxiety and Jeniffer found her own ways to escape. But I guess you never know! Carolyn's strength really is inspiring. She i..."

What did you make of Carolyn seeking out Erwin in the very end... Do you think he'll be content as her side-kick, living in another dimension of life? Were you thinking sequel, at all?


message 11: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 141 comments I just finished the book.

I like books who do genre-bending well and for me this book qualifies on doing it well.
Then I got to thinking that the other "horror" book that I really liked this year was also genre-bending - The Changeling by Victor LaValle. I think genre bending books also expands readership. I would not call myself a "horror" reader and almost always bypass with that designation.

I thought the author ties up the loose ends very nicely and so would probably not read a sequel.

My thoughts about the ending:
- I thought it was fitting and hopeful
- As after any war, genocide, etc. we are always hopeful that we will do better but these events keep happening. So why will Carolyn do it any better than those in the past?

So the twist for me is that Father knew along that Carolyn was going to be the leader and challenge (try to kill him).

Less surprised that she revived Father - she needed some answers and someone to bounce ideas off of - and she had already decided that she could not convince Steve.

I actually thought the first half of the book was better than the second half.


message 12: by Ami (last edited Nov 02, 2017 04:13PM) (new)

Ami | 335 comments Beverly wrote: "I just finished the book.

I like books who do genre-bending well and for me this book qualifies on doing it well.
Then I got to thinking that the other "horror" book that I really liked this year ..."


Genre bending is great, and you're quite right, Hawkins does it well. I say that he does it well just based on my thoughts of him as a solid writer, and not so much about the horror/sci-fantasy genre bending. He did a phenomenal job interweaving between PsOV in a non-linear narrative. Although, as creative as this novel is, I don't doubt he surpasses the genre bending bar as well!

Sure, you reach a wider variety of readership embracing genre bending by appealing to those genres.

Yes, in a few of his Q & As, quite a few who read his novel were curious to see if a sequel was in the works. I think he said there wasn't a solid sequel in the works, but another story was in place working around facets from Mount Char. I too thought the Hawkins tied up the loose ends very well, I was content with it.

It doesn't seem as if we learn from history, either because people refuse to understand it, or just taking it for granted. Carolyn, I believe, during her moment of enlightenment with Steve, understands she needed to be different than Father. In fact, doesn't she even say something along the lines of not wanting to do things as Father had? Steve as the sun, and Erwin by her side, Carolyn may very well flourish in areas that Father and his predecessors failed.

I agree, the first half of the novel, up until the ambush was better than the latter half. I was wondering if the ambush on the house itself wasn't a way to bypass having to write about the other Librarians who happened to die in one fell swoop? A lot of his original ideas, and there were a lot of them, ended up on the cutting room floor...He had to edit out quite a bit, from what I understand.

I'm curious, how did you end up rating this novel, Beverly...Three stars?

Thank you so much for your squeezing this one in and discussing it with us. I'm glad it worked out for you, I enjoyed reading your insights!


message 13: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 141 comments I have really enjoyed this discussion and all of the wonderful thoughts that had me pondering and thinking that is an interesting way to look at that situation.

I am a believer in "power corrupts" so while I thought this book has a hopeful ending and Carolyn did not completely lose her "humanity" and seems to gain insight and empathy - will she grow to love her "power" more than doing what is right.

I am one of those who wish Goodreads do 1/2 stars. For me this is a 3.5 read!


message 14: by Ami (new)

Ami | 335 comments Beverly wrote: "I have really enjoyed this discussion and all of the wonderful thoughts that had me pondering and thinking that is an interesting way to look at that situation.

I am a believer in "power corrupts"..."


Beverly, but don't you think Father picked her specifically knowing she would not be corrupted by power? I think of David, being the biological son of Father, and Carolyn the daughter whom he groomed to take his place...One would think it would have been the other way around, right? This leads me to believe there was a differentiating factor between son and daughter, aside from their parentage that enabled one to be corrupted, and the other to withstand it. I completely understand what you've conveyed, yes, ordinarily I would think she would bend towards injustice; but the narrative led me to think otherwise. Now, you've got me thinking again... LOL!

Nice...3.5 stars! :)


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