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Past Group Book Discussions > Words to the wise : Book 1 - Discussions and reviews - Spoilers here

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message 1: by Simon (Highwayman) (last edited Nov 15, 2011 08:54AM) (new)

Simon (Highwayman) (highwayman) | 4698 comments Words to the wise Book 1

How did it go? Reviews and discussions here Spoilers allowed

Words to the wise Book 1


message 2: by Jud (new)

Jud (judibud) | 18537 comments YAY!!!!

It was awesome!!


message 3: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25061 comments Would you like to expand on that Jud?

Something I've wanted to ask people is how they found the development of a character who had absolutely no backstory? The Wanderer was 2 dimensional at first and to be honest, not very nice. He was a thief, a cheat, a drunkard and had a temper. Yet as the book progressed I warmed to him. (By the end of Book 2 I'm a little bit in love with him!)

I felt sympathy when Mlle. Delauney told him he was not alone - there was a creature within him, looking out of his eyes. What a thing to find out!

Then of course, there was Nora; the first person he ever (to his or our knowledge) felt any affection for or took responsibility for. Then he was distraught when Clannath claimed her soul. He had just found out that he was immortal so the realisation was that this was to be his fate - to lose anyone he came close to.

There are more examples but I don't want to hog the discussion (you didn't know that did you?)


message 4: by Jud (last edited Nov 15, 2011 11:18AM) (new)

Jud (judibud) | 18537 comments I wouldnt like to expand on that but all in my own time Ignite. I was excited and had to express myself.

I meant to say I would like to expand not I wouldnt, there's proof of how excited I was!


message 5: by Jud (new)

Jud (judibud) | 18537 comments Sorry I didnt post earlier but it was nearly home time and I didnt know if I would have the time to get everything down. Now I am home and fed so I have all the time in the world.

I never really thought about the development of the character but its funny, now that you mention it I am imagining the Wanderer as a god himself (such as he views the Bleeding Man) who has arrived on Earth for whatever reason with no clue as to what humans are about. Yet as he travels and encounters different people he learns and experiences the different emotions and different characteristics of people and begins to understand them. I think I just enjoyed the book even more now, thanks Ignite!

When I realised that Nora's soul had been taken by Clannath I was heartbroken, both for her and for The Wanderer (which I have to say is due to Cornelius's exceptional writing that had me in love with Nora despite her being such a short part in the story). I had this image in my head at this point that Nora would heal him and he would discover who he was by looking after her or that she would at least help him on the way. I do find it ironic however, that he is walking through a famine in Ireland with food and only discovers after leaving that he doesn't need to eat and he could have let Nora have all the food. Maybe insignificant but it sticks out in my mind.

I felt hugely sympathetic for The Wanderer when he read the letter from Mlle. Delauney. How lonely must it feel to be mistrusted by another who had been a friend, to sense that they are uncomfortable around you and then discover the reason behind it was because they could sense something else within him! It made me sad that it was in the last loaf of bread he broke the letter was hidden and not earlier. I don't really know why, maybe just because he had all that time inbetween leaving and finding the note to dwell on why Mlle. Delauney was suspicious.

The monastery scene was my favourite part of the book I think. I was high with anticipation about Brother Barnabus and whether The Wanderer would speak to him. At one point I genuinely thought he was going to leave without speaking to him.

And I am really intrigued about the village who have to sacrifice an individual who is taken to the castle and never seen again... I hope this is all explained eventually if not in the 2nd book!

Anyway think I have hogged the discussion for more than my fair share so I shall let someone else take over for now. Is Cornelius joining us at some point?


message 6: by Jud (new)

Jud (judibud) | 18537 comments i really want to read the book again


message 7: by Kath (last edited Nov 16, 2011 03:02AM) (new)

Kath Middleton | 25061 comments I hope he will join us Jud but maybe we have to ask him an outright question?

It's so good to have someone who shares my enthusiasm for this Saga. I didn't view the Wanderer as godlike, just as immortal which is really a curse not a blessing. As our esteemed author put in the words of the Wanderer "Immortality had secured in me an eternal lethargy that I had dismissed as the symptom of depression, of my unending and meaningless life."
Why bother to do anything now if there's always a guaranteed tomorrow? It's our awareness of the brevity of our time that makes us get on with things.

I loved the Melk Abbey secton too Jud. Istvan was a lovely character and the interplay between him, a young man brought up in a monastic environment and our Wanderer, no social skills at all (!) grew like a little spark and ignited into a warm and gently amusing friendship. Some of the linguistic treats are to be found here too. I adore the new collective nouns - a spell of sparrows - it still sends shivers down my spine. Another one - "Moments later he appeared in a session of thick shadows." It sounds, it feels, wraith-like and insubstantial. I love it.

The cursed village, Smolenice, yes, another wonderful section of the book. Cornelius' description of Verna's face as " delicate and preciously woven into subtle contours" how good is THAT? It's another occasion where W views his condition as a curse. He is unable to respond to her and pulls away when touched because she will realise his heart doesn't beat. Not to be able to give or receive human comfort - now that's a curse.

Shall I shut up for a bit?


message 8: by Kate (new)

Kate (littlekate1) | 574 comments I was in conflict through this book. I enjoyed the style of writing although at times found it a bit superfluous. It was quite a dark tale and in all fairness I haven't read anything in this sort of genre for a while which helps explain my initial hesitancy with the book. It did gradually grow on me however and by the end I was getting a 'sort of' grip on the character.

The autor certainly deserves a lot of credit for the way in which the wanderer started off as a blank slate himself. As a reader going through his search to find who he is was something I've not really experienced before. Particularly as the other characters were only really a fleeting presence. I also liked both the monestry and the village Smolenice sections of the book and the reappearance of the bleeding man at the end was a surprise which I liked. It kind of pulled the book together for me.


message 9: by Cornelius (last edited Nov 16, 2011 06:52AM) (new)

Cornelius Harker | 829 comments Hello all. I think one of the major irritants with constructing a character who has absolutely no memory is that I, as the writer, know his past, and yet I'm unable to impart it in one fell swoop. I had to feed the narrative little snippets of information, slowly disclosing what I thought would be enough to keep the reader intrigued. It was a little daunting at first to develop a character who had a very basic knowledge of human emotion, and I can understand how a great many readers might find this aspect of storytelling a little frustrating. Much of the time we as readers are introduced to fully developed characters; they have attitude, they possess likes, dislikes and, most importantly, they possess a name. It was my intention, however, to create a character that was almost a story within a story. While the world he inhabits owns its own characters, tragedies and curses, there exists amongst them one whose own story is still in its infancy; a child amongst adults, so to speak. As the saga develops then so does The Wanderer, of course, but writing an origin story can be a feat in itself. When Book Two begins, the character of The Wanderer has already been established. We know of his plight, we know a little about his purpose and we know exactly where he is going; it's here that the reader can find that familiar comfort zone of knowing the character. Basically it was my intention to create a character with whom the reader will slowly become acquainted. Both Wanderer and reader can undertake the same journey.

I'm glad you're a little bit in love with The Wanderer, Kath; he says "Hi". I believe he's blushing.

Jud, I'm really glad you enjoyed it. Your "YAY!!!" made me laugh. Both you and Kath made a few observations there that made me sit back and think awhile.

Kate, I'm happy that you came to like it in the end.

I'll be off now, I have no wish to tire the eyes of those who would rather read the other two November choices.


message 10: by Jud (new)

Jud (judibud) | 18537 comments Aw thanks for joining us Cornelius :o) what you wanted definitly came across in the writing and I will even go so far as to say it was a SUCCESS!

glad my YAY! cheered you up if only for a little while.


message 11: by Cornelius (last edited Nov 16, 2011 07:21AM) (new)

Cornelius Harker | 829 comments Thanks, Jud, that means a lot; and I'm always up for a YAY!

Edit: Almost forgot, thanks for posting your review onto the US site as well.


message 12: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25061 comments So Cornelius, what did we make you think about? Have we read more into it than you intended? Have we misread something?

You mentioned on the other thread (jokingly I hope!) that the Wanderer falls in love in Book 4 and skips across the meadows. I warn you that you will need to write me into the book in that case because I have first dibs on him and no-one else can have him! (Hi, Big W, you may well blush!)

I felt his journey (or as my Arthurian side keeps wanting to call it, quest) was successful in that we discover things along with him. His learning is ours.

I know it's dark and gory in places but it needs to be to bring home the devastating effect of the curse. It's also in the aftermath of what he has seen in the cottage that the Wanderer meets the Bleeding Man again and is told about the impending end of humanity, which he and mysterious others may be able to prevent. You need the darkness, I think, to counterpoint the possibility of release and rescue.


message 13: by Jud (new)

Jud (judibud) | 18537 comments yea what she said ^^

plus the darkness is cool.

I think i need to remind myself of this. I might have to read it again while the discussion is going on. I keep getting scenes from Mort in mty head which doesnt help


message 14: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25061 comments I think I'm going to read Book 2 (again) next week Jud - maybe you and I (and anyone else who wants to join us) can do it on another thread?


message 15: by Jud (new)

Jud (judibud) | 18537 comments yea sounds good :o) I still have to read book 2 but think after this one i'll go for 1 then 2. Should be finished by next week


message 16: by Cornelius (new)

Cornelius Harker | 829 comments Ignite wrote: "So Cornelius, what did we make you think about? Have we read more into it than you intended? Have we misread something?

You mentioned on the other thread (jokingly I hope!) that the Wanderer f..."


Not at all, there was nothing misread or misinterpreted. I was referring more to those particulars that are perceived by some, and those things that I thought (rather stupidly, it appears) would have been read and merely forgotten. For instance, you (Kath) cite the reason for his sudden recoil when Verna touches him. Also I find it interesting that Jud highlights the fact that The Wanderer discovers the letter in the final loaf of bread. Ultimately, I believe we all as readers bring as much to a book as we take away.

The dark aspect of the book was something I did feel was necessary. I believe that, in detailing his life, one must endure all the hardships that The Wanderer experiences. In later books, when he might be acknowledging the horrors of his past, I would like readers also to recall those times in Clannath, Melk Abbey and the Carpathian Mountains since, in effect, they experienced them as well. If there were no horrors, then The Wanderer's sometimes sombre reflections would lose all validity.

It's ok, I'm not about to become all serious now. I do smile, you know. There may even be an occasional guffaw.

Kath, now you've done it, The Wanderer has had a T-shirt made with an embossed 'Big W' on the front.


message 17: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25061 comments As my good friend Jud would say, Yay!!!


message 18: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25061 comments What do people make of the creatures? In the parallel-parked universe of the Saga, all humans have an interior creature inhabiting them but only after some sort of 'enlightenment' episode do they become aware of it (is that right, Mr Author, Sir).

It doesn't appear that the human gets any benefit from its creature's presence so it's not a symbiote then? That would make it a parasite? Or a third option - one in the 'you'll have to wait for Book so-and-so' category? It seems to me that the creature must gain sustenance from the human. But the creature that accompanies the Evil Vamp in the cottage is fed on blood and flesh (poor Ingram. I'd hate to play him when they make the film!)

There's also a 'creature' pursuing W on his flight to Rayner's hut. Same species? I found myself wondering if it was the Wanderer's own creature and he'd managed to evict it somehow but I'm sure he talks about the creature inside him to Rayner at some point so it must still be there. How do they live I wonder? Where do the spare ones come from - have they 'got out' of a person and can they live indepedently? Has anyone (presumably Cornelius has!) any ideas about them? The thought of something inside you gives you the creeps a bit doesn't it?

When my daughter was pregnant I referred to pregnancy as like hosting a parasite (I'm a very soppy mummy Jud! - NOT) and my son - late 20s at the time, was shocked that I hadn't been utterly besotted by the fact that he was giving me indigestion and disturbing my sleep! Creatures eh? Kids eh?


message 19: by Jane (new)

Jane (beetlejane) | 82 comments While I enjoyed the way the book was written, it wasnt until the Abbey that it really picked up for me, after which I really started to enjoy it. I wasn't excpecting all the gory bits at the castle and then in the cottage. I am still quite confused by it all though!
The style in which it was written is kinda encouraging me to get the next one to found out more...


message 20: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25061 comments Some of the confusion will sort itself out if you read Book 2 Jane. With a character with no memory you are starting from Zero. I really found Book 2 faster and more exciting and it also allowed a much deeper insight into The Wanderer's character. There are lovely interactions with people in Book 2 and more humour too.
After that you'll be itching for Book 3. Ask me how I know!


message 21: by Jud (new)

Jud (judibud) | 18537 comments Scienfically speaking an embyro/foetus is a parasite as it feeds off you and gives you nothing back. You could say the same of nearly all children too.

I want to know why The Wanderer says to Rayner when he first arrives "does it not know who I am?" (or something like that) about the creature outside so maybe it is his? and he is now confused as to why it is trying to kill him? I hadnt thought about everyone being accompanied by something inside them I was just thinking it was The Wanderer and nobody else, interesting point well made Ignite


message 22: by Jane (new)

Jane (beetlejane) | 82 comments How do you know?!! :-)

What is book 2 called while you're here?!


message 23: by Jane (new)

Jane (beetlejane) | 82 comments It's Ok, I have found it, wasn't too difficult. lol


message 24: by Jud (new)

Jud (judibud) | 18537 comments yea its just words to the wise: book 2 or something is it not? I downloaded it but now its lost amongst the mass of freebies on my kindle.


message 25: by Jane (new)

Jane (beetlejane) | 82 comments yep. Words to the Wise Book 2!


message 26: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25061 comments It's called Towards Darker Climes. There's a real cliffhanger ending and that is why I occasionally (regularly) drop in a hint (nag) about Book 3. You find when you get to the end of Book 2 that the third will be called Sirrenvaag.

Author? Will you soon be adding a product description/blurb to your blog about Sirrenvaag? It might shut me up for a while. (Like that's going to happen any time soon!)


message 27: by Cornelius (last edited Nov 17, 2011 08:49AM) (new)

Cornelius Harker | 829 comments Ah, the creatures. You're right, Kath, they remain dormant until a moment of 'awareness' has taken place. I do, however, need to be a little careful when discussing the creatures, since they do play a somewhat large role in the overall saga.

Jud, I see you picked up on the Wanderer's question at the beginning; that particular question will not make sense for some time yet. All I can say at this point is that the creatures are not what they might appear to be. It was my intention to fashion a sense of mystery to these creatures until I explode everything in Book Three, and I do just that. Many of the unanswered questions are answered in Sirrenvaag. It's a lovely place, of course. I think it may well stick in the mind. Hopefully it shouldn't cause too many nightmares ... although one or two would be nice.

Kath, are you harassing me again? I'm calling the police! I shall indeed create a blurb for 'Sirrenvaag' in the near future.


message 28: by Jud (new)

Jud (judibud) | 18537 comments Create that blurb now! whats keeping you?


message 29: by Jud (new)

Jud (judibud) | 18537 comments I did pick up on that question Cornelius and I have to say that is one of the things that had me most intrigued about the book when I started reading it. I was hoping you would explain later on but no I see what your up to... So what price will book 3 be then? £23.99?


message 30: by Cornelius (new)

Cornelius Harker | 829 comments Jud (Krisztof) wrote: "Create that blurb now! whats keeping you?"
I would, but I've just seen something shiny that's caught my interest. I'm easily distracted. I think it's a coin.


message 31: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25061 comments Cornelius wrote: "Ah, the creatures. You're right, Kath, they remain dormant until a moment of 'awareness' has taken place. I do, however, need to be a little careful when discussing the creatures, since they do p..."

That means you're not telling me, right? I still don't know what sustains them and how they manage to feed or sustain life when detached from people. Are they there from conception? I'm scaring myself now!


message 32: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25061 comments Jud (Krisztof) wrote: "Create that blurb now! whats keeping you?"

Thank you Jud! Cornelius, we've got a gang!


message 33: by Cornelius (new)

Cornelius Harker | 829 comments Jud: I reckon £50, a modestly sized Villa in Spain, and a rather large hat would suffice. Did I mention that Book Three is written in Braille only?

Kath: No, I'm keeping quiet, although the urge to offer a simple yes or no to your 'conception' question is very tempting.


message 34: by Jud (new)

Jud (judibud) | 18537 comments too right we're a gang, so just watch yourself Corny! Write that blurb and you'll not get dumped in a large vat of old custard covered with a thick milky skin.

We're kinda getting off topic here...


message 35: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25061 comments Yes we are. Back on topic would be keeping him in a dungeon with no crisps or curly-wurlies till he sees sense. Only I expect he'd like that.
That threat completely backfired, didn't it? Snigger.


Gingerlily - The Full Wild | 36808 comments Hmmm.. I have a space free in my dungeon if anyone need s it...


message 37: by Cornelius (new)

Cornelius Harker | 829 comments Just drop me in the custard, Jud, and leave me with a small spoon. I'll make short work of it. Oddly enough I used to enjoy scooping the skin off custard and cold coffee as a small boy. Now there's a thing.

Kath: curly wurlies I could live without, but not my crisps ... leave me my crisps. (Monster Munch)

GL: that's ok, I have my own dungeon. It has mildew, spiders, rats, instruments of torture ... and Sky.


message 38: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25061 comments No curly wurlies? I'm mixing you up with Enoch Dowling.
Easy mistake to make.


message 39: by Kath (last edited Nov 18, 2011 03:52AM) (new)

Kath Middleton | 25061 comments Did anyone else get that sinking feeling that anyone the Wanderer became fond of went on to die horribly? Don't worry; he is actually befriended by people in Book 2 who go on to lead meaningful lives afterwards (at least, till the end of that volume anyway!)


message 40: by Jud (new)

Jud (judibud) | 18537 comments I never noticed that but right enough... not that there were many friendships formed though.


message 41: by Cornelius (new)

Cornelius Harker | 829 comments I intended to write the first book as an entirely solitary affair, just The Wanderer labouring to understand himself and the world around him. Just think yourselves lucky you never ran into him during one of his more pensive moments.


message 42: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25061 comments Why aren't you writing? (she asked pensively).


message 43: by Cornelius (new)

Cornelius Harker | 829 comments Erm, I, erm ... anyway, how about that weather, eh?


message 44: by Jud (new)

Jud (judibud) | 18537 comments yea hows that blurb coming along?


message 45: by Cornelius (new)

Cornelius Harker | 829 comments Erm, well, ah ... Don't you just love puppies?


message 46: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25061 comments Oh yes! On toast!
Get on with it, you're procrastinating. I KNOW you are!


message 47: by Cornelius (new)

Cornelius Harker | 829 comments Ok, I'm off. Puppies and mash for dinner tonight.


message 48: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25061 comments And gravy? Puppy gravy's the best bit.


message 49: by Cornelius (new)

Cornelius Harker | 829 comments Aah! Beagle Bisto.


message 50: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25061 comments Hope it doesn't upset your delicate constitution. Rover's Return!


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