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FoE Book Club > Onyx and Ivory Chapters 1-9

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message 1: by Stephanie (last edited Apr 20, 2019 05:23AM) (new)

Stephanie | 207 comments Mod
Add your comments, questions, and observations for Chapters 1-9 Onyx and Ivory in this thread. Remember--no spoilers for future chapters!

Here are some guiding questions if you are looking for prompts to begin the discussion, but that you have zero obligation to answer if you have other things you want to talk about.

1. What are your first impressions of Kate and Corwin?

2. Onyx and Ivory brings together many of the tropes upon which both fantasy and young adult genres are built (e.g., good vs. evil, dark vs. light, magic, medievalism/monarchies, social unrest or injustice, class divisions, the outsider, star-crossed lovers, parentless children, etc.). How do you think this first part of the book aligns with these tropes or archetypes? How do you think it plays with or subverts them?

3. The kingdom of Rime has sanctioned and unsanctioned magic. Why do you think the Mages believe Wilder magic is so dangerous? How might those who hold power in Rime benefit from the persecution of Wilders?

4. At the end of this section, Corwin is ready to talk with Kate for the first time since she rescued him from the daydrakes. How do you think this meeting will be different from their first meeting in the streets of Farhold?

5. Kate and Corwin both rely heavily on their friends and rarely seem to interact with elders. How do you think their friends help to shape these two characters and/or show the readers more about who Kate and Corwin are?

6. Just for fun: What type of magic would you rather have: Magist or Wilder? You can also take this quiz endorsed by Mindee Arnett that will help you determine which type of magic you would have if you lived in the world of Onyx and Ivory.

Read more about how Arnett's describes the various types of magist and wilder magic.


message 2: by Cindy (new)

Cindy | 16 comments I’m currently on chapter 26, which means it’s harder to answer some of these questions without having other chapters influence what my thoughts were at the time.

But it did remind me that - or make me consciously aware that - there are no “adult” role models other than the magists. That’s actually surprising, but then again, the novel focuses on Corwin and not so much on Edwin. Edwin has advisors, while the errant prince does not. Same with Kate, though she has her makeshift family of Tom and Signe, and they complement her personality and temperament.

Wilder magic is what I would lean towards, and the same kind as Kate.


message 3: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie | 207 comments Mod
It does seem really strange that there are almost no adults in the book so far, doesn't it, Cindy? I think that's why friends play an important role. I would say Bonner, Signe, and Dal all play a role in pushing the main characters out of their comfort zones, which in turns moves their character arcs along. For example, Kate is (understandably) very cautious when we meet her, but both Bonner and Signe are not, so they push her to take more risks or think more deeply about the ramifications of using magic. Dal helps us better understand that Corwin often doesn't understand his own value, and he forces Corwin to engage in actions that he would try to avoid because he doesn't think he can handle them. I think this is one of the reasons why the meeting between Corwin and Kate after the daydrake attack is going to be different--Dal will serve as a bridge to force them to confront some issues they might not do otherwise. Also, sorry Corwin, but you owe her big time and you better man up about it, haha. I did appreciate the whole reversal of the damsel in distress rescued by prince trope when she saved hime from the daydrakes. It reminded me a bit of that scene in Ever After when Danielle rescues the prince from the travelling people.

I admit I spent this first part of the book wondering why there is such a strong division between the types of magic. What it comes down to (I think) is that Wilders have more immediate access to magic--or maybe a better way is to say they have unmediated access: they can directly affect events without first having to create an object and imbue it with magic. I could see how that's terrifying in its unpredictability, but so is the notion that people who don't understand magic can buy objects and use them so that anyone (in theory) can have access to magic. I also don't appreciate the way that magic has been monetized by the Magists. But I guess that's where they benefit from keeping such strict control over who can use magic and who can't. It also benefits the rich, since they can afford it while others can't. Still, I'd like a better explanation of what seems to be a somewhat arbitrary class division among magic wielders and why the Inquisition is experiencing such support.

Overall, I don't mind the two main characters too much. I find Corwin a bit annoying because he doesn't seem to understand his level of privilege. I like that Kate has been written as someone who is just trying to get on with her life rather than as someone seeking revenge or redemption. I think she'll get there eventually, but I appreciate that that's not where she starts.

I thought I'd rather be a Wilder, but when I took the test, I ended up a Magist. Huh.


message 4: by Cindy (new)

Cindy | 16 comments I just took the test, and it has me as an Earthist. So yep, Wilder!

Wilder magic seems to be more about having an ability, while the mageists are more about imbuing something with magic. Though their abilities are not quite defined in the book - yet - which I’m sure is on purpose! Being able to transfer magic *into* an object might actually be a stronger magic (?) than the Wilder magic we’ve been told about. And stronger than what the general population in the book is aware of.

The characters play well off each other, and though there are some questionable things they do and/or say, they seem to each be sticking to their own personalities and characteristics.


message 5: by Daisy (new)

Daisy Swaffer | 12 comments Ok, I have paused at the end of chapter 9 to consider things so far, so looking at the discussion topics:
1. First impressions of Kate and Corwin. Well now, if that isn’t a re-hook-up waiting to happen then I don’t know what is 😄
I like Kate, she is very pragmatic and capable, though she also puts herself down a fair bit which I hope doesn’t continue. She has come to terms with her change of situation a whole lot better than I would have.
Verdict is still out on Corwin, we still don’t really know what he saw with their dads that fateful night and there is obviously more to it that he doesn’t know too. To have not passed on the message from her dad before he was executed because he was mad about a kiss with his brother that had he spoken to her about he would have found out she didn’t even want is petty beyond forgiveness in my book, but then I don’t forgive easily.
They obviously still have a lot of feelings for each other no matter how much denial they are in, so if they can get over all of that stuff from 3 years ago and instead look at what they are doing now, i.e. her risking her life in order to save his, hello, then I’m sure they’ll make it work!

2. Tropes. The damsel in distress trope being reversed was nice, and as much as she did nurse him that night, she wasn’t a simpering mess beside his bedside from that point on thank goodness.
Wilder magic feels very much like the idea of dark magic and light magic, including the classic obviousness of the magic itself not being inherently good or bad, but just what you do with it. The inquisition for the wilder magic people is sounding scarily like genocide, which also fits into those tropes.
The romantic tension between Kate and Corwin is feeling a little like romance by numbers but I don’t mind that because I’m a sucker for a satisfying romance in my fantasy.

3. The magics. Also, OH! That’s how Rime is spelt! The perils of reading by audio 😄
We have been learning about wilder magic from having our main POV character using it and talking about it but we have heard precious little about the other kind of magic, magist. The master with a name which I have forgotten shed a little light on it in explaining to Corwin that by having sanctioned magic, there is necessarily magic which certainly exists and is out there which is unsanctioned. Made me think of the unforgivable curses in Harry Potter, you can outlaw them but there will always be people who use them. But we haven’t got a sense of what magist magic is sanctioned and what kinds of uses of the magic is unsanctioned, and I’m a little frustrated at not really understanding this side of things yet so I hope we get an explanation soon. It certainly speaks to a control of power and in a way reminds me of the Catholic Church in centuries past in the dominant control of power and inquisition and things.

4. The imminent Kate and Corwin meeting!
Well he will acknowledge he knows who she is which is a pretty major difference to their street meeting! But yeah, I expect this meeting is going to be pretty tense, that Corwin’s friend is going to be trying to diffuse the tension and I fully expect Kate and Corwin to be yelling at each other at some point. The upshot is that he wants information from her that she has very good reason to withhold so it is not going to go well!

5. K & C’s friends. They both seem to find their friends to be very grounding influences, and we only seem to see both of them let their guards down when they are with their friends, relax a little and show some vulnerability, their personalities are actually very similar in that way that we have seen so far which is interesting. I don’t feel like we have had that much of Kate with her friends though, most of the book so far she has been on her own or verbally sparring with the annoying guy at the relay station. We’ve had a much bigger proportion of Corwin’s time be with his friends, and I can’t see that changing as Kate is so independent.

6. Oooo a quiz!
I got Magist. Sounds about right to me from what I have read so far tbh, I am not in any way connected which nature which is how I perceive wilder magic to be at the moment.

Thank you for these prompts, it has really made me think about things thus far!
Now on to chapter 10!


message 6: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Klinich | 138 comments Being on FoE and finally joining an IRL book club has made me think more about why I do and do not like particular books. I read quite a bit of YA fantasy and mysteries by female authors, as I generally prefer more PG-13 level sex and violence and this has mostly been a helpful way to screen (though not perfect.)
I enjoyed Onyx and Ivory and will read the next one, but there are other YA series where I couldn't wait to start the next one. Series I've really loved are Swords and Fire by Melissa Caruso, Abhorsen by Garth Nix, Daughters of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, and the Grisha books by Leigh Bardugo. I'm having trouble figuring out why I liked some so much better.


message 7: by Megan (new)

Megan | 236 comments Thank you for the questions, and I really enjoyed reading the answers of all of you who posted before me! :)

1. I really liked Kate from the beginning - she seems practical and good at adapting to her situation. Corwin did not make such a good first impression - I was really hoping for him to fall off of his horse when we first met him.

2. The story definitely has many elements common to the YA fantasy genre - the main character having a major status change as a result of a family secret they haven't uncovered yet, the slightly wacky yet likable friends/sidekicks, the conflict between different factions of magic. But there's a reason these things are found in so many stories - they work!

3. I think wilder magic is scary because it is, as the name suggests, "wild." It occurs on its own without training, so those who have it aren't easily controllable. Magist magic seems much more academic and learned rather than innate, so it can be more easily regulated and shaped.

4. I was really hoping for her to either (a) ignore him or deny knowing him like he did to her, or (b) punch him in the face and then walk away. For the purposes of the book being longer than these first chapters, it's probably best that she didn't follow my advice.

5. A lot of YA books, movies, and TV shows are fairly adult-free if you think about it - it probably reflects the amount of time actual people that age spend thinking about adults. :) So this story's lack of older characters never seemed unusual to me. The adults that are there in the background are all kind of the typical parent/teacher/boss types who are annoying or secretive, which again is probably not too far off from how many of us saw them when we were that age.

The friends in the story are super important to how both Kate and Corwin are presented - Dal is the only thing that made me keep my mind open to a possible redemption for Corwin, since he pretty clearly had his own backstory and had reasons for hanging out with him other than wanting to be close to a potential king. At this point in the story, I thought that Signe was going to primarily be in the role of showing how women in more traditional gender roles than Kate behave in this world, but obviously she turned out to be much more than that. I really was hopeful for Tom in the beginning as a potential romantic alternative to Corwin - I'm always rooting for the main character's friends over the more traditional frenemies on that front.

6. I got Magist in the quiz, which didn't really surprise me - I'm pretty practical, and the Magist style of magic seems like it is more easily "bankable" since it can be stored in objects, and shareable for the same reason. I'm not sure which type of Magist I would be - probably a brown robe, since I'm not really into political intrigue and like things with a practical application.


message 8: by Sheri (new)

Sheri | 875 comments Mod
Ok, finally have a bit of time to go through this!

1) I like Kate, she's spunky. I like Corwin a bit less, he comes off as kind of petulant. A lot of "woe is my, life of being an uncertain prince is hard".


3) The wilder vs magist tropes feels pretty familiar to me. In Mercedes Lackey's Obsidion trilogy there was High Magic vs Wild Magic which sounded pretty similar. High magic was sanctioned, wild magic was considered dangerous and illegal and outlawed. There was similar set up in her Jousters series too, of magi vs mental magics. I'm guessing at some point magists realized that wilder magic was less controllable and started a campaign to eradicate it, painting it as evil so the public would go along. Having a monopoly of magic would ensure that no other group could set up a counter power base.

5) I'd say that Kate and Corwin, and friends, count as adults. Sure they're young, but they are all holding jobs/responsibilities while being on their own for the most part. I'd say a lot of the reason they don't interact with their elders is they're all outcasts for one reason or another. Corwin is the "extra" prince since he hadn't be officially recognized as a possible heir yet, Kate is a traitor's daughter, Signhe is from another country under unspecified circumstances, and ...The blacksmith whose name i'm blanking on is running a busy shop while his father is ill. He and Kate have the extra complications of hiding their wild magic. Elder people are more set in their ways, more likely to see things in absolutes. So much more likely to dismiss Kate as being untrustworthy, Corwin as useless and powerless, Sighe as foreign, the blacksmith as being a placeholder for his father.

6) I relate to the wilder because at least right now they come off as the underdog. Also the abilities of elemental magic appeal more to me than enchanting things. But the test put me in Magist too.


message 9: by Susan (last edited May 06, 2019 06:06PM) (new)

Susan LoVerso | 291 comments I'm now on Ch 12 I think so I better type here before I forget what happened in which chapters.

1. I feel like Kate is making the best of a bad situation that is none of her doing but seriously impacts her life. She's strong and competent. Corwin seems a little bit spoiled. I like Dal a lot.

2. I started getting worried about my pet peeve in books like this, where most of the problems could be solved with simple communication. Corwin's grudge against Kate and Edwin for the mistaken kiss and his not giving the message from her father for a very long time. I'm still worried this lack of communication will play too large a role in later chapters but it isn't completely central to the plot (yet) so I'm willing to give it some leeway.

5. I tend to agree with Sheri that they are adults. Other than the typical have-no-effective parents trope they are independent, on their own, doing a job, supporting themselves, etc. I'm older so I don't generally buy into today's extended adolescence in our culture so I don't see these characters as children.

6. Regarding the magic, I really don't trust Raith. He seems kind of scheming in the pre-attack betting game and he just too conveniently escapes unscathed from that attack? Yeah, I don't think so. It is frustrating that no one is questioning this in the book too deeply.

The test put me as an Aerist. I haven't read far enough in to know if that is Wild or Magist even! I'm guessing Magist. I am really not sure which I identify with. I relate to the underdog wilder magic in a live and let live way and do what tools you have available to you to get your job done. But my nature is a rule-follower in general. I've been part of small communities where things can be loose because everyone in that community is a responsible citizen and then as it gets larger, there are jerks who have to ruin it for all of us. That's how I feel this magic is.


message 10: by Jen (last edited May 08, 2019 01:48PM) (new)

Jen (piratenami) | 215 comments 1. I like Kate a lot so far. I think she was treated unfairly, and she's got that underdog thing that makes for a good protagonist. I like Corwin all right so far, but he still seems like a bit of a cypher as a POV character. There's still a lot of his backstory we haven't been told. And he was really petty about Kate's mistaken kiss with his brother.

Who I really like so far are the main supporting characters. Especially Dal, Signe, and Bonner.

I also have a feeling that mage, Raith, is gonna be a big bad. I'd be happy to be proven wrong; the author seems to, so far, be presenting the case of "mage bad, wilder good/misunderstood". I would like to see some more sympathetic portrayal of the magists, or see some more of the rogue magist mindset.

2. I do like how it's subverted the damsel in distress trope so far by having Kate rescue Corwin. But I also don't think there's anything inherently bad about tropes - they're tropes for a reason, because something about them resonates with people. It's a matter of how they're used, IMO.

3. I think it's all a matter of power. The mages don't want to give up their stranglehold on sanctioning and using magic (and lose their income). The Wilders do magic that isn't sanctioned, and is therefore "uncontrolled" and "dangerous". It gives them an enemy to unite the common folk against, especially since they're presenting them as terrorists using "The Rising".

4. I think it'll be much more a meeting of equals after she saved his life. And with Dal there, I think it'll be a lot of fun.

5. I love their friends! Seriously, I want more of all of them. Dal especially shines a much more sympathetic light on Corwin. There's a saying about judging someone by their friends, and the fact that these two are liked by awesome people is another point in their favor.

6. According to the quiz, I'd be a magist, but I don't think I could tolerate the extortion prices for magic. That said, it'd be nice not to fear constantly getting caught. I would probably be okay with it, but maybe focus on magical research or something instead of charging people ridiculous prices for my services.


message 11: by Sarah (last edited May 24, 2019 10:05AM) (new)

Sarah Pace (space1138) | 127 comments My copy finally arrived, and so far I’m enjoying it. I’m typically pretty jaded against YA, as so much of it winds up being identical strings of tropes and cliches, just in different settings. This one has been better than others so far, and the tropes of the “plucky and suspiciously-independent royalty heroine who happens to have had a falling out with the definitely-not-the-heir prince” seem to be working well. I’m hoping for a good twist in the story to give the book its own unique flavor (the YAs that I’ve really loved typically share this attribute), so we’ll see what happens.

Kate’s plotline (and plight) as the daughter of a traitor is so far almost identical to Spensa’s in Skyward. I’m very curious to see how Mindee Arnett resolves the setup, and how it differs, or is the same, as Sanderson’s solution to the same identity taint.

I think my only beef so far is the romance aspect- it just seems very forced. I definitely see Kate and Corwin coming back together, but it’s getting very grating to have every interaction of theirs described in sexually-charged detail, especially given how they are still very much chilly towards each other at this point in the story. This is just a really awkward emotional juxtaposition for the reader. I’d like it better if Arnett gave a much more natural progression and rekindling of their childhood romance.

Onward, to chapter 10!


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