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2012 Reads > TIG: Chapter 1 - On re reading its actually quite good

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David Sven (gorro) | 1582 comments Chapter 1 threw me a bit when I first read it - partly because the style of narration had changed from the prologue and partly because we are being introduced to some of the politics of the Palm and so there are a few names and places thrown about that we have to get a handle on.

Having finished the book and coming back to chapter one everything makes a lot more sense and I picked up a couple of things that I had missed or forgotten but have a bearing later on in the story.

Essentially we are introduced to "The Palm" a peninsula of nine provinces ruled by two tyrants Brandin and Alberico who control 4 provinces each and are engaged in a cold war for the 9th. There exists and uneasy peace between the two tyrants.

Chapter 1 sees us in Astibar - a province ruled by Alberico. The former deposed and exiled ruler Duke Sandre has died and his dying wish is that he has his funeral inside the city he was exiled from - there is a tension because such a funeral has not been authorised by the Tyrant but his hand is forced somewhat because it is festival time and he is wanting to keep the natives happy.

With all this happening in the background we are taken to a tavern where a Tregean (Tregea being another of the provinces) Shepherd basically starts talking treason by suggesting that the former Duke is sticking it to the Tyrant in the manner of his death. He also quite provocatively suggests that once all is done the rest of the province will continue to bend over and take it up the proverbial - or words to that effect.

Keep the so far nameless Tregean in mind because we are to learn his identity later on as a character who is in the habit of spreading sedition whenever and wherever he can.

The nameless Tregean(who we learn later is part of a company of travelling musicians) focuses a lot of his attention on a young an impressionable poet named Aldreano (remember that name) and inspires him somewhat by the end to perhaps write something less petty and meaningless than he had been pereviuosly doing.

quote from a conversation between the two

He grinned, to take some of the sting from the last words. ‘Far better for the Tyrant to be gracious,’ he went on. ‘To lay his old enemy ceremoniously to rest once and for all, and then offer thanks to whatever gods his Emperor overseas is ordering the Barbadians to worship these days. Thanks and offerings, for he can be certain that the geldings Sandre’s left behind will be pleasingly swift to abandon the unfashionable pursuit of freedom that Sandre stood for in ungelded Astibar.’ (in plain English you guys have no balls))
By the end of his speech he was not smiling, nor did the wide-set grey eyes look away from Adreano’s own.
And here, for the first time, were truly dangerous words. Softly spoken, but they had been heard by everyone in the booth, and suddenly their corner of The Paelion became an unnaturally quiet space amid the unchecked din everywhere else in the room. Adreano’s derisive couplet, so swiftly composed, now seemed trivial and inappropriate in his own ears. He said nothing, his heart beating curiously fast. With some effort he kept his gaze on the musician.
Who added, the crooked smile returning, ‘Do we have a wager, friend?’

and further down to Adreano's response

Adreano didn’t know what he would say. What he did know was that he was feeling a zest, an excitement, that left him unsure whether what he wanted just then was a sword in his hand or a quill and ink to write down the words that were starting to tumble about inside him.

So we are left with the young man Aldreano inspired to write treason.

Much later in the book we hear about Aldreano and the outcome of this seemingly casual conversation(which I had forgotten until rereading this chapter) And the question which comes to my mind is how much responsibility should we take for words spoken casually or otherwise that either inspire or cut?

Anyway - I am now in love with this chapter after dismissing it as over convoluted writing the first time round. It is really clever and sets up an emotional bang way down the track.

Richard | 221 comments I found this chapter to be a bit jumpy (too many points of view) but not really hard to track. 3-4 pages into chapter 2 it settles into a normal narrative. Even so, characters mentioned in passing (by name or not) in one narrative pov will turn out to be major characters in another narrative pov, eventually tying everything together.

Chaz | 32 comments My problem with Ch 1 is that it made me think that our protagonist was going to be either the stupid, pompous but weak Aldreano or the loudmouth Tregean shepherd. I really couldn't cope with a book with either of these characters as the protagonist.

As it turns out, the shepherd is acting and turns out to be very interesting, but he was irritating in Ch1.

Nimrod God (nimrodgod) | 273 comments The above two points are why I created the early lem thread... This chapter was a complete fake out...

Reminded me of man on the moon, when Andy Kaufman says that he will Cut all the bologna and that the movie was over...

Maybe Kay wanted a sort of intellectual litmus test on the reader before continuing?

David Sven (gorro) | 1582 comments Point I want to make is that the encouter with Adreano and the Shepherd is not a chance or casual encounter. This is targeted sedition - and Adreano being a poet is a deliberate target for spreading that sedition.
The two have a definite "moment." And it sets up some very emotional developments later in the book - If you can remember Adreano by then that is.

Nimrod God (nimrodgod) | 273 comments @David, you are right, until I read this thread I had missed half of what really happened!

Thanks for noting this.

Chaz | 32 comments However I think that your claim that it is actually good is a bit strong. It is the first chapter of the book and yet it almost made me put the book down. Many others had similar reactions to it so I feel confident that I can say that as an opening chapter it completely fails.

message 8: by David Sven (last edited Jun 04, 2012 04:42PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

David Sven (gorro) | 1582 comments Chaz wrote: "However I think that your claim that it is actually good is a bit strong. It is the first chapter of the book and yet it almost made me put the book down. Many others had similar reactions to it so..."

If you could be bothered (a big ask I know) to re read the chapter after you finished the book I'd be interested to know if you change your mind.

My initial sentiment was the same as yours (completely fails is strong) in that I felt a little disorientated and was worried that the rest of the book was going to be the same. But all was good in chapter 2 (whew. . . ) and I felt I'd got over a hump.

But after finishing the book I really enjoyed re reading this chapter. Maybe because not understanding who was who and where was where with who was no longer a distraction making the implications of the encounter in the tavern more noticeable and significant.

I suppose you could argue that you shouldn't have to read the whole book to understand the first chapter fully. But for me at least I found, like a good wine, this chapters tastes better with age and there is a lot to "savor" in it second time round.

I definitely had a couple "AHA" moments - "that's what that was about on page 500 or so."

John (johntai) | 35 comments I'm still on Chapter 6, and as everybody I had a lot of problems with ch 1. I really did not get anything at all, not just the hidden reason for it, but even what the characters were saying in the surface. The language was just hard for me to understand.

However chapter 1 is really not that long, and I would never lem a book this early on, not knowing what the book is about. Also, technically the book starts with the prologue, which to me was pretty good, good enough for me to finish a few more chapters before lemming it.

Chris Palmer | 61 comments Abandoning or criticizing a book, particularly one of the speculative fiction genres, because you are confused a bit in the first chapter shows a lack of trust of the author.*

It's one of the things that sometimes drive people away from the SF genre - you are, more often than not, supposed to be a little confused in the first chapter as unfamiliar settings and terms are thrown at you, then you begin to assimilate them and put them in the proper context. The alternative in this case could have been a long prologue describing the history of the last 100 years of The Palm, the religions and cultures, etc. Then no one would be confused, they would just be bored and would be spoiled for all of the revelations of the story.

*Note that being confusing a third of the way in could either mean you've missed something or the author is a hack, or that you're reading modern or post-modern literature.

Megan (mhendon) | 9 comments Ch. 1 was difficult for me as well. I actually thought the names of the provinces were people names for a bit. I feel like if it had just been terms, like in Hyperion where you can pretty much figure out what they're talking about because its in English (holopit, treeship), I would not have been so confused. But we get a bunch of unusual names mixed in with similarly constructed place names. In the end, I felt like I got the gist of it, but that I still might have missed something.

I also would never lem a book this early. I figured it would make more sense to me soon enough,and it did. The next chapter was easy, building off of what ch. 1 established.

Joshua Zucker (joshuazucker) | 12 comments I was also very grumpy in chapter 1. I wanted to know more about the characters and action I had gotten so interested in during the prologue! It didn't take much patience to get back on track with the narrative and the other characters.

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