Book Club 6: Strange the Dreamer


Sarah: 00:03 Hi, I’m Sarah.

Rachel: 00:05 I’m Rachel.

Sarah: 00:06 And this is Unassigned Reading.

Rachel: 00:08 Where we discuss the books you are never going to talk about in English class.

Sarah: 00:11 Right, YA, sci-fi, fantasy, and all the other genres you read for fun.

Rachel: 00:17 This is not a spoiler free podcast.

Sarah: 00:19 So many spoilers especially today. So on that note, what book are we talking about this week?

Rachel: 00:26 Yeah, it’s only one of my favorites, Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor.

Sarah: 00:30 So good. And the sequel and final book in the duology is coming out next month.

Rachel: 00:37 Yes. Muse of Nightmares. And I don’t know about you all but I can tell you that the two people recording this podcast are pretty freaking excited.

Sarah: 00:45 So excited that we just couldn’t talk about anything else this month even if it means a break in the middle of our Harry Potter series.

Rachel: 00:52 Yeah. And you know, it’s still got magic and ghosts and stuff. So that’s close enough. Right?

Sarah: 00:59 Right. And since you’re clearly so eloquent this morning and like so into the topic, you get the one minute summary,

Rachel: 01:07 Oh my gosh, this is, Sarah, this is like a 600 page book.

Sarah: 01:10 Um, 532 page book, actually.

Rachel: 01:16 This is, this is going to be terrible.

Sarah: 01:19 You know the drill. Sixty seconds, everything you can fit about Strangers the Dreamer go!

Rachel: 01:24 Okay, so Strange is an orphan. He is living with these monks. He’s obsessed with this old city that everyone else thinks is like a fairy tale. It’s called Weep. Nobody believes it exists. He grows up to be a librarian. Everybody calls him Strange the Dreamer because he’s obsessed with fairy tales. Then surprise these warriors called the Tizerkane warriors from the ancient city of Weep show up and are like, hey, we need some help with some stuff. Send us all your best people. And everybody’s like, no, Laszlo can’t do it because you just the librarian. But then Laszlo comes up and

he’s like, Hey, I can speak your language also, please let me come. I want to help super bad. And so the head guy Eril-Fane is like, yeah, sure, be my secretary. Come on. So they go over to Weep and they discovered that the problem that they need help with is that they, Weep had been destroyed by these terrible guys that came in and even though they’ve defeated them, Eril-Fane defeated them. They left behind this huge statue floating in the sky called the citadel. Jump to the citadel where there’s this girl and her brothers and sisters, the girls name’s Sarai. These are the last children of the gods who everyone else thinks has been killed. But it surprised they’re still there. They have powers. Sarai..

Sarah: 02:23 Oh boy.

Rachel: 02:24 Oh No. Is that it?

Sarah: 02:26 That was it. You know, as you go.

Rachel: 02:31 I was going so fast.

Sarah: 02:31 I was thinking as you were going, I was like, there’s no way Rachel is even going to get to Sara at all. Like this is gonna end and they won’t have even made it to the city of Weep.

Rachel: 02:42 Sarah, I was talking so fast.

Sarah: 02:42 You did better than I expected.

Rachel: 02:44 Oh my Gosh. I can’t believe I only got to like mentioning who Sarai and like barely even explain who she was.

Sarah: 02:50 You didn’t even get halfway through the book.

Rachel: 02:53 I got like a third of the way through the book and leaving out major details. Okay. Please just like take the reins. Tell me what I missed, which is everything.

Sarah: 03:03 First sort of major detail is the city isn’t named Weep.

Rachel: 03:08 Oh okay. Were you, were you going to mention that in the 60 seconds allotted?

Sarah: 03:12 I mean it was, it’s probably worth mentioning it. It would have taken like three words, but basically it had a name and when Laszlo is a boy, the name is stolen from his mind and everyone else’s mind and no one else really thinks anything of it. Um, but Laszlo knows that something magical happened and it stole this knowledge from him and that’s what drives his obsession.

Rachel: 03:36 Yeah. Part. I mean he’s obsessed before, but yeah, that’s part of it for sure.

Sarah: 03:38 I think it, I think if it hadn’t been for that, like it would have been good childhood fairytales, sort of obsession, you know, it just something he played when he was a kid.

Rachel: 03:45 Yeah. Maybe so.

Sarah: 03:45 We can get into analysis later. This is not the time. I will continue with the summary. So. Okay. They get to Weep. It’s probably worth noting that like one of the other delegates going to Weep is Laszlo’s nemesis the Thyon Nero.

Rachel: 03:58 The godson of the Queen.

Sarah: 03:59 Soo he is a big deal.

Rachel: 04:01 He’s an alchemist.

Sarah: 04:02 He’s an alchemist. He can make this, this liquid that.

Rachel: 04:07 Yeah, it’s called azoth and it’s like a universal solvent and can also be used to like make gold and stuff. Basically like peak Alchemy. Oh and that’s why BTW, the reason he hates Laszlo is because Laszlo basically gave him the way to figure out how to make it.

Sarah: 04:23 Yeah, so they make it to Weep. We learn about these children living up in this, well not children, teenagers.

Rachel: 04:30 And no one, by the way, no one knows they exists like they’re living in secret. Everyone else thinks, Eril-Fane for sure thinks he killed all the gods and yikes, all the children of the gods who were babies.

Sarah: 04:42 Yeah. We learn as they’re going and what their life has been like, how they’ve survived up there and how all of the children of these gods have gifts. They have magical abilities and how they’ve used those to survive for 15 years.

Rachel: 04:56 Sarai’s gift is that she has the ability to come down in the night and enter the dreams of the people in Weep and her little sister Minya, who is the one who rescued all the other children because she was oldest, has convinced her eye that she needs to keep the terror and the fear alive in the people of Weep, so that they never come searching up in the citadel and realize that there are still children alive. So Saria creates terrible nightmares.

Sarah: 05:18 So sort of jumping ahead so we can get onto the analysis. Sarai and Laszlo meet in dreams, fall in love, all of that stuff.

Rachel: 05:28 Bad things happened. The citadel starts to fall.

Sarah: 05:31 And one of the delegates figures out a way to like just, he thinks he’ll destroy the citadel. Doesn’t work, almost destroys the city.

Rachel: 05:35 He winds up just collapsing part of the city. It makes the citadel go off balance and start to fall. Sarai falls out, major spoiler alert, falls to her death. And then surpise…

Sarah: 05:48 To be fair that major spoiler like is what the prologue is.

Rachel: 05:53 Major, major spoiler you find out in the first page.

Sarah: 05:55 But you forget.

Rachel: 05:56 You don’t know for it’s Sarai. And then surprise Laszlo in trying to save the city, learned that, hey, he has some powers and his power is to control the mesarthium which is the metal of the gods, which, uh, only the child of Skathis, the former leader of the gods, could do. And then he realizes that Sarai is dead, he goes to save her, takes her up to the citadel, hoping that Minya, Sarai’s little sister who has control over ghosts can harness her spirit and keep her from, you know, moving on. And Minya was like, okay, yeah, cool, whatever. But now you have to do whatever I say.

Sarah: 06:33 And I should also mention at this point we said it was a surprise that Lazlo had these powers. The reason it’s a surprise is all of the Mesarthim are blue and Lazlo was not up until that point.

Rachel: 06:44 He’s very much not blue.

Sarah: 06:45 And then he turns blue.

Rachel: 06:46 Yeah.

Sarah: 06:46 He turns blue though.

Rachel: 06:47 Yeah, he does.

Sarah: 06:49 So yeah.

Rachel: 06:51 Let’s, let’s jump into some analysis.

Sarah: 06:52 I think that was sort of brief overview. You know, read the book.

Rachel: 06:56 Because guys we’ve missed so, so much. And also it’s a good book, just just read it guys, read the book.

Sarah: 07:05 Okay. So let’s get into it

Rachel: 07:06 So much to analyze. So little time. Okay. So I think the first thing we should talk about is, you know, of course we have read Laini Taylor’s other series. That was how we first fell in love with Laini Taylor and her writing. Daughter of Smoke and Bone, another great series you should go read. And I think it’s really interesting. We see several pretty prominent similarities in some of the themes and some of the ideas that are in these two different series. And I want to touch on that a little because I think it’s really interesting and shows some of the things she’s interested in as a writer. And the first one that we see in both series is this idea of the Seraphim. So like kind of this take on angels or this angelic race in Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It’s one of the primary races that we see in that book is the Seraphim. And then in this series they aren’t as prominent. They’re more mentioned as a part of the religious and cultural history that there’s a belief in angelic beings, particularly in the city of Weep, they worship these ancient Seraphim and even though they don’t have like an actual presence, they’re like very holy to these people before the Mesarthim come in and screw everything.

Sarah: 08:05 Right. Well, and that’s how the Mesarthim get in and get their power.

Rachel: 08:07 Right because they think they’re the Seraphim.

Sarah: 08:11 People think they’re the Seraphim.

Rachel: 08:11 Surpsie, they’re not. They’re real bad. Well, I mean, I mean, I guess technically we don’t know for sure. I guess they could be.

Sarah: 08:18 Sure, sure. Yeah. I would agree. Like based on sort of the different stuff, I’m pretty certain they’re not Seraphim.

Rachel: 08:24 Yeah. Assuming that the Seraphim exist as actual entities in this universe.

Sarah: 08:28 And it seems like they probably do. There’s strong evidence that they did exist at some point.

Rachel: 08:33 Very, very possible. And so along with that you’ve also sort of got this idea of a different take on angels and demons or gods and angels and gods and monsters and things like that that you see throughout her various books. And then the other big one that I thought was interesting is sort of the idea of the soul and how it relates to moving on from the form of the living to like afterlife and in both Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Strange the Dreamer it’s referred to as evanescence, which is this in different ways. I’m pretty sure it’s referred to as that in Strange the Dreamer as well. It definitely is in Daughter of Smoke and Bone, but it’s this idea of the spirit leaving and that there was a brief period of

time where the spirit sort of like a disconnects from the body as it starts to move on to whatever comes after. And in both books it doesn’t really talk about what might theoretically come after, but in Daughter of Smoke and Bone, the characters are able through various ways of magic tethered these spirits and then reanimate them in new forms basically like kind of not reincarnation, but kind of a similar idea where they create bodies and are able to return the spirits. And then in this book we have Minya whose power is to hold onto these spirits and control them. So instead of letting them evanesce and can move on, she captures them and is then able to control them, which is obviously a very big deal in this book since we end with Minya controlling Sarai, which you know, by extension means she pretty much has control over Lazlo which is not great.

Sarah: 09:52 Yeah.

Rachel: 09:52 And so I think it’s really interesting that we see these similarities and I think there’s some speculation, and I had this suspicion as well that’ll maybe that could mean that these are set in the same world, not in the sense that Daughter Smoke and Bone takes place partially on earth and partially in other worlds. And so to me I was thinking, oh maybe it’s like kind of multiverse kind of things. Since obviously we’re dealing with portal fantasy in that series and in this series we’re just in the fantasy land.

Sarah: 10:16 Although I think there’s definitely implication that portals do exist in this.

Rachel: 10:21 Maybe?

Sarah: 10:22 Well, just because how did the Mesarthim get there? The description to me definitely makes me think portal.

Rachel: 10:28 Maybe, maybe that’s interesting. I hadn’t really considered that that’s possible. Anyway, that’s kind of what I was thinking was maybe, you know, maybe this is another in this interconnected multiverse, this is another world and that’s why we see some similarities. I will say I found it not to like dash everybody’s hopes and dreams. I found an interview with Laini Taylor who said that she doesn’t view it that way, that she doesn’t view it as being set in the same world and that there won’t be any crossover characters, which I had never suspected that there would be any crossover characters. To me it was just. And, and I don’t think that necessarily, even if we’re not doing like death of the author, whatever, like I don’t think we have to take that 100 percent at face value to say that they couldn’t still be at the same universe, you know?

Sarah: 11:05 Yeah, I do. Yeah. There are enough differences. Like I, it hadn’t occurred to me that that was like a possibility.

Rachel: 11:11 Yeah.

Sarah: 11:11 But I do see, I will say like, even not thinking that from day one, I’ve been like, oh, this is to me, clearly portals are involved here, Mesarthim are from an alternate dimension or another world. They’re not of that world, which indicates to me a portal type thing.

Rachel: 11:25 Yeah, that makes sense. I definitely hadn’t considered it that way. I was definitely more on the plane of like when magic exists, what is a god, but you, you know what I mean. I wasn’t going necessarily to portal, but that would make sense for sure. And it could also have some interesting implications for some of the questions the book raises.

Sarah: 11:39 Yeah, definitely. So let’s jump onto sort of the main thing I think we’re going to be talking about which are the themes of the book because there are a lot of really interesting themes in this book that we need to talk about.

Rachel: 11:53 Some really juicy, deep, like complex themes that once you start digging into it again and you sometimes see show up throughout Laini Taylor’s writing so clearly thinks she’s interested in. But yeah. The first one I want to talk about is the legacy of trauma. Is that one you saw in this?

Sarah: 12:10 Yeah. Yeah, I see that as a theme.

Rachel: 12:12 Yeah, I think it’s maybe not the biggest one, but I think it’s a pretty big one because basically, we’re jumping into this world that at least if you’re talking about in the city, of Weep post this, I don’t know if war is exactly the right word, but it’s post this like incredible trauma, this occupation by the gods that ended very brutally and there’s a lot of, you know, grief and hurt and just trauma among the people because I don’t think we mentioned this, but the gods would take young men and women up to the citadel where they would stay for usually a year. Then they would be returned with no memories of what happened. But there would be like indicators of things, injuries and stretch marks and you know, so they could kind of piece together some of what happened. It pretty horrifying.

Sarah: 12:55 There’s, you know, those children came from somewhere and yeah, the somewhere they came from wasn’t the other Mesarthim.

Rachel: 13:02 And we’ll, we’ll touch more on that later. But yeah, so there’s. So there’s a lot of trauma in this world, but we’re seeing it postconflict, you know, we’re

really a lot of the meat of this book is about the trauma and the aftermath of trauma and like how do you move forward and move on from that because what the book is really about and a lot of ways plot wise is the idea of these outsiders coming in to try and help them bring down the citadel so that the city can finally really move on from the shadow of this trauma. And then also on the flip side of that, up in the citadel, these young children of the gods trying to survive all of the traumas they faced both from the gods and also the fact that literally everyone wants to murder them and that they have to live in secret. And so it lends itself.

Sarah: 13:44 Minya sort of in particular like,

Rachel: 13:46 Oh my gosh.

Sarah: 13:47 Witnessed the humans killing all the babies.

Rachel: 13:50 She’s really like, I think the personification of peak terribleness that can happen to severely traumatized young children. To the point where there’s a passage in the book where we find out early on that all of the other children of the gods, there are five of them in total. Is that right? Yeah. Four plus Minya and so the other four have grown up. They’re like between the ages of 16 and 18. So they were all babies and toddlers when this first happened. Very little. Minya despite being the oldest because she was six years old when this happened. That’s how she was able to rescue all of them at

Sarah: 14:17 Five.

Rachel: 14:18 Oh, five. Okay. I thought it was six. Anyway, that doesn’t really matter. She still looks like that same little girl. She’s never grown up and, and we sort of don’t know why exactly. But later on we find out that it’s at least implied that it’s because she basically doesn’t have, you know, like she gave everything in saving these kids and then like the trauma and surviving the trauma. And so now she’s just stuck, you know, she’s literally stunted as this small child. And so she’s definitely a very literal example of. And, and, and also she’s really in a lot of ways because this book doesn’t have a strong like villain, it a lot of antagonists, but it doesn’t have one singular villain, which is I think another important aspect with the idea of this legacy of trauma is that it’s more about the trauma and all of the terrible things a lot of people have done and how to move on from that versus one villain who they’re all fighting against. It’s like a lot of people in a lot of things, but Minya is definitely one of those antagonists for sure because she is very stuck up on vengeance and on the idea that they’re gonna have to kill everyone in Weep to survive and that

everyone and we deserves it for killing the babies.

Sarah: 15:20 I almost think that because I would say this is a book without like a traditionally antagonist, right? There’s no specific bad guy.

Rachel: 15:28 That’s why I say no villain, but antagonists in the sense that there are characters who are working against the protagonist.

Sarah: 15:35 Yeah. But I would say almost if there is a villain, the villain is the idea of vengeance.

Rachel: 15:40 Yeah. I think thatt’s fair.

Sarah: 15:41 It’s the driving force for all of sort of the things that go wrong.

Rachel: 15:46 And I would argue also the trauma in itself could be viewed similarly, but yeah, I think Minya is definitely. She’s. She’s been very shaped by this idea of vengeance and so yeah, she is. I would say one of the characters we get as close as possible to an actual like bad guy, but at the same time, you know, she’s very sympathetic in a lot of ways because you know, she’s this little girl and we know that despite all the terrible things she’s doing to Sarai and other people, she’s done good things in the past and in a lot of ways she is still motivated to save her brothers and sisters.

Sarah: 16:15 Yeah. The bad thing she’s doing. She clearly believes that this is what it takes to survive and as the readers, we know she’s wrong, but to her this is how you survive. There is no other way to live.

Rachel: 16:28 And that vengeance is again, just kind of bring it full circle is a byproduct of the trauma, you know, because the vengeance on the gods was a byproduct of the trauma and the need to escape the terrible things that the gods were doing to Eril-Fane and all the others who are up in the citadel and then this need from Sarai and Minya and the other gods’, children to, you know, sort of perpetuate these fears and to survive the vengeance that they have is again a legacy of the trauma that they’ve been raised with. So I think, I think a lot of, a lot of it comes full circle to trauma and like how can you overcome it? How can you escape from it? That cycle of, you know, one trauma leads to another to another on and on, which kind of leads well into one of the other really big themes that I think we both saw in the book, which was kind of related to morality and good guys versus bad guys. Basically this idea of even good people are capable of doing terrible things and also kind of going along with that who the bad guys are depends on perspective on who’s telling the story.

Sarah: 17:30 Yeah. Because I think particularly indicative of that second part is throughout the novel, how they sort of address the Mesarthim. Like sometimes they

call them gods and sometimes they call them monsters, you know,

Rachel: 17:43 And even, you know, they call the children Sarai and her siblings, I’m not sure that we’ve said it so far because we’ve been kind of skirting around it because is kind of a mean name, but they call him god-spawn, you know, and these are the children that the humans had and obviously again, it’s from a terrible place, but that’s not the fault of these kids.

Sarah: 17:58 Yeah. So another part of that is Eril-Fane. From the moment he shows up, he’s a hero, he’s the god slayer. He saved Weep from these truly evil people because there’s no question that book that the Mesarthim, Skathis and all the others, they were evil. They did terrible, terrible things and there’s really no redeeming them. Like even the children don’t think they were good.

Rachel: 18:20 Oh yeah. The children probably hate the gods as much as the humans do.

Sarah: 18:24 Yeah, so no question that they were evil and that Eril-Fane and should be a hero for killing them. The problem is he didn’t just kill them. We sort of referenced this earlier, but Eril-Fane’s the one that killed all of the children.

Rachel: 18:35 Yeah.

Sarah: 18:36 Along with the other humans that were still trapped in the citadel, but

Rachel: 18:39 He wasn’t the only one, but he was. Well,

Sarah: 18:41 He sort of lead the way.

Rachel: 18:43 He may have been the main one to kill the children, which is I think again, an interesting way to look at him as the sort of prototypical hero because he is in a lot of ways the very traditional hero, but we see a more complex and complicated view and I think again, partially that’s because we’re seeing the postwar. We’re seeing the legacy of war and the trauma of war because he’s still a very important and impressive man, but he’s a very broken man. You know, we see that from very early on. He suffers maybe more than anyone else from the nightmares that the city is plagued by

Sarah: 19:13 and it’s definitely played that like those aren’t just Sarai’s doing.

Rachel: 19:17 Oh, for sure.

Sarah: 19:20 Because that’s also coming from him.

Rachel: 19:20 Yeah. Because, well, because we sort of slowly learned more about what he did and the

role he played in everything. But he’s clearly very. He harbors a lot of guilt over it, especially because, oh, I don’t think we’ve mentioned this, but this yet but

Sarah: 19:31 It’s probably worth noting at this point.

Rachel: 19:34 Yeah. Sarai is his daughter. And he knew that he had a daughter in the citadel. He learns later on that Sarai still alive because he recognizes her because she looks just like her mother. The goddess of fear. Is that right?

Sarah: 19:48 Despair. Yeah. Like we said, these were not good guys.

Rachel: 19:51 Not good guys. They were not mostly the gods and goddesses of anything good. But it’s really interesting because we see like just how, how in a lot of ways I would almost say that he kind of gave himself and his soul to do what he thought was, you know, like he, I think as a hero felt like if we let these children live, they’re going to turn into the gods again. And so we have to kill them. I have to kill them to save my people. But he kind of gave every part of himself to do that because it, you know, I mean killing kids, not good obviously.

Sarah: 20:22 Yeah.

Rachel: 20:23 And it’s interesting because Laszlo, we also see Laszlo very much hero worshiping him and idolizing him. Almost viewing him as like a father figure early on because he is this very good kind guy that we see at the beginning. But you know, we learn the more complicated view and Laszlo even says at one point that he realized that all this time he’d been looking to the gods slayer as a hero, not a man, but the heroes, whatever else they are are also men and women and prey to human troubles just like anybody else. So kind of this idea that heroes still make mistakes. Heroes are still people.

Sarah: 20:54 Yeah.

Rachel: 20:54 And then on the flip side of that, we get a very different view. I think of what it means to be the hero from Laszlo, who isn’t necessarily your typical hero figure. You know, he’s a librarian, he’s a dreamer, he’s very, he’s not the sort of toxic masculinity male hero we see sometimes like he’s very compassionate, he’s very caring and creative and all these other things that you wouldn’t necessarily normally see as like attributes of the action hero.

Sarah: 21:18 And another thing worth pointing out. I don’t think Laszlo ever fights anyone in like physically fights anyone in the entire story. And this is a fantasy. Fantasy is full of fighting and battles.

Rachel: 21:32 In fact, I think they joke about, what a bad fighter he would make, you know, because

he’s like, he’s, he’s a, he wants to learn, he wants to learn languages and learn stories. And that’s like, those are the things he aspires to in life. He’s a dreamer. He really is. And so in a lot of ways, that’s kind of the flip side of Eril-Fane because he believes the best in others and he’s always willing to give people another chance even after they may be proved unworthy of the faith that he’s putting them. We particularly see that in his relationship with Thyon Nero who resents him for every time Laszlo helps him. And I think there’s one telling scene between the two of them that just really tells you what kind of character and hero Laszlo is. And it’s a scene where toward the end of the book Thyon Nero is trying to make azoth and to make azoth you have to basically use some of your spirit, which is not like in the metaphysical sense of the soul, but it’s this actual physical attribute that people in this world have that’s like along with blood you have spirit and it’s pumped through your second heart and it they sort of explained that it sort of is. It’s kind of like a life force in the sense that it gives you your spirit. Like it gives you the will to live kind of. And so if you take too much of it, it’s not good and Laszlo sees that he’s been taking too much and is like, hey use some of mine, like it’s fine, I’ll give you some. And Thyon’s like, what the heck? Like why would you help me? I’m super mean to you and hate you and I kind of assume you hate me and Laszlo just says because you needed it. I’m helping you now because you need it. I’ve helped you before because you needed it. And then you know, it talks about this radical notion that you could help someone simply because they needed it. Which kind of sums up I think who laszlo is as a person, you know, he’s, he’s not helping someone because he wants to be the hero. He’s not helping someone because he’s going to get fame or glory from it. He helped someone because they need it.

Sarah: 23:16 Yeah. And I think sort of speaking of that, it goes into this sort of repeated phrase that comes up a few times in the story talking about Thyon and Laszlo and it’s one of the other librarians, sort of Laszlo’s boss at the beginning of the book says, “some men are born for great things and others to help great men do great things.” And the first time it’s brought up and even the second time it’s really about Thyon is clearly the man born to did you great things and Laszlo is meant to help him do great things. I like no one sees laszlo is heroic. He is a side character. He’s meant to help the hero in the hero’s journey.

Rachel: 23:54 Yeah,

Sarah: 23:55 And it’s interesting that by the end of the book it becomes clear that Thyon is the one helping Laszlo do great things. Not maybe helping intentionally,

but doing something that leads to Laszlo sort of, Thyon on the side character in Laszlo story, which Thyon sort of I think starts to realize by the end of the novel, that this might not be his great story. It might be Laszlo’s.

Rachel: 24:19 I think it’s interesting that even before that’s made very explicitly clear, Laszlo is still, he’s still the protagonist, you know, he and Sarai are still the main characters of this story and both kind of unconventional in the sense that Laszlo doesn’t seem like the hero. He seems more like the sidekick and Sarai if it were being told from anyone else’s perspective. If it was only being told from the perspective of the people of Weep, for instance, she would be the villain.

Sarah: 24:42 No question. Yeah, so neither of them really who you would traditionally think of as being the hero of the story.

Rachel: 24:48 Okay. Hold that thought because we need to take a second to tell you about another awesome book podcast. You should be listening to.

Sarah: 24:54 Do you like speculating about the plot of the books you’re reading?

Rachel: 24:57 Or better yet listening to your friend speculate about books you’ve already read? Then you should probably be listening to Novel Predictions, but let’s let them tell you why.

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Alison: 25:07 And I’m alison and we host novel predictions, a podcast where we laugh at ourselves and each other as one of us tries to predict the ending of a book the other has already read.

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Kales: 25:41 As we torture each other.

Alison: 25:42 It’s not torture. Seriously.

Kales: 25:44 Maybe a little.

Alison: 25:45 Okay. It’s just a little thanks for listening and keep making novel predictions. We really need a new outro.

Sarah: 25:53 And now let’s get back to the world of Weep.

Rachel: 25:55 Yeah, and touching a little more on Laszlo’s, heroicness and everything. I do think it’ll be interesting to see in the next book now that Minya sort of has this control over him and now that we know he has this incredible power because this is the power all of the godchildren wanted like this was the power because Minya, I should say also clarify is another child of Skathis, so she and Lazlo are actual brother and sister and so she wanted this power to control the mesarthium because if they had that, they could literally do anything like they could pretty much take over again if they wanted.

Sarah: 26:26 They could leave,

Rachel: 26:26 They could leave, they could stay.

Sarah: 26:28 They could open doors.

Rachel: 26:30 They could open doors. They could terrorize the people of Weep again.

Sarah: 26:30 Because right now they can’t open or close doors.

Rachel: 26:34 They can’t do anything up in the citadel. It’s frozen the way it was when Skathis was killed, but I think it will be interesting to see how that sort of affects his role in the story of how like what the push back will be there because Minya has control over the woman he loves, but at the same time he still has this goodness. So I think there may be like a really interesting interplay between his desire to do what is right and to help people with his desire to protect Sarai.

Sarah: 27:00 And I think we’ve started talking a little bit about the next book. So I think it’s time to talk about sort of our questions. And then there our theories and speculation. Because I have thoughts.

Rachel: 27:12 There is so much. I will say this, Laini Taylor is, she’s a master of foreshadowing. I don’t think I even realized quite how much. Like I knew, I knew she was good. I knew she was very talented at world building, at story building, you know, developing really intricate characters and themes. All of these awesome things. And I knew that there was a lot of foreshadowing, but this was the second read of the book for both of us.

Sarah: 27:36 Yes.

Rachel: 27:36 And I think we both came out of it like, wow, because we have so many things we didn’t even know. It’s so obvious that Laszlo is one of the children of the gods. So obvious.

Sarah: 27:48 It starts in chapter one, she straight up, says in chapter one when he was a baby, he was gray.

Rachel: 27:53 He was gray and sickly. And you’re like, wait a minute. He was what now?

Sarah: 28:00 There’s other things too, just like references all through the book. Even later, once we start meeting Sarai, she talks about how high up the citadel is and how terrible it would be if one of them fell off. She straight up says that or like how much she would hate being one of Minya’s ghosts and like just so much foreshadowing. It’s unbelievable.

Rachel: 28:21 Well, and I think that sort of is a good connection to, uh, talking about Laszlo and the foreshadowing with who he is. One of the biggest questions, and I think a lot of our questions and theories relate to this, at least in some way, shape or form. One of the biggest questions in the book is what happened to the other godspawn? Because we know of course that we’ve got these five survivors Minya, Sarai, and the others. And then of course we know that Laszlo is another one and we know that a lot of them were killed. But the question is what happened to the others because we know that the gods had been essentially they even call it this in the book, horrifyingly have been breeding the humans to have these, you know, half God, half human children with powers. And so, you know, they, I think they even make note at one point in the book Laszlo’s, like there have to be thousands of them. Where have they gone and Azareen and Eril-Fane are like we don’t know. Like, they all know these children are missing.

Sarah: 29:19 The other thing we haven’t mentioned, the Mesarthim weren’t there for like 10 years. They were there for 200 years doing this. 200 years worth of these children.

Rachel: 29:31 So a lot.

Sarah: 29:34 So like the one he’s like how the children so far seem to be aging normally. So were the gods and mortal but the children are, maybe some of them died naturally? Never knew. Did the gods kill them when they took them away or did they take them away like Laszlo? We have no idea.

Rachel: 29:50 That’s this huge question mark sort of hanging over the entire book is what was the purpose of these children were, were they taken? Why were they taken, where are they now, how many of them are there,

what are, you know, what are they doing, all these things. And so there are like definitely some hints and various other things during, throughout the book. What are the things I noticed on my reread that I thought was interesting is there’s this bird that we haven’t mentioned because again, you guys, there is just so much stuff going on in this book. You really, you got to read it, but then there’s this bird that I think it’s Sarai and the other surviving god spawn who call it Wraith. I don’t think anyone else referred to it as that, but it’s says birth called Wraith and it’s this like white magical bird that will just appear sometimes and it’s sort of been helping out the children of the gods and the citadel. Like I think it brought some seeds and things so that they could grow food and other stuff like that. Yeah. And so we know that they’re seeing it.

Sarah: 30:42 It also shows up at like points in Laszlo’s life.

Rachel: 30:46 Right, exactly.

Sarah: 30:47 That seem key to him returning to Weep.

Rachel: 30:50 Laszlo is the only other one who we see sees Wraith, which is interesting because why? And in fact to even go a little deeper than that, we learned very late in the book like right before Sarai dies. So like very close to the end once she and Laszlo are close, she notices this memory of a white feather that she recognizes as being from Wraith in the recesses of his subconscious. And she’s like, Huh, what’s up with that? I wonder why that would be there. So that’s, that’s very interesting because it’s sort of subtly setup. So I don’t think, I didn’t really notice it until my second read of the book, but it sort of begs some questions about what exactly Wraith’s role is related to these children of the gods. Is it possible that wraith is some sort of protector that just watches over them? Is it possible that Wraith was actually used to ferry the children away from the citadel? That’s how they got them away from the citadel, which could maybe explain why Laszlo would have memories of it, even though he was a baby when he was taken away. So yeah, I don’t know.

Sarah: 31:51 So I have a theory.

Rachel: 31:53 Please tell me your theory.

Sarah: 31:55 Okay. So we’ve talked a little bit about Skathis, but we haven’t really talked to all the gods by names because they don’t come up a lot, but one does and that’s Korako.

Rachel: 32:03 Yes.

Sarah: 32:03 So she is the goddess of secrets.

Rachel: 32:07 Yes.

Sarah: 32:08 And they say in the book, her biggest secret is what her gift is. It’s also, so there’s a reference to a baby with the ability to manipulate mesarthium being removed from the nursery. I have been assuming the baby was Laszlo. Rachel disagrees. So maybe I’m wrong.

Rachel: 32:27 I don’t disagree. I think

Sarah: 32:28 You don’t think it’s.

Rachel: 32:29 I think

Sarah: 32:30 You don’t think it’s certain. You think it’s a possibility.

Rachel: 32:33 I think it’s very probable that it is referring to Laszlo, but I think, you know, I, I’m just, I don’t want to say that it’s 100 percent because there are other possibility, you know.

Sarah: 32:42 My theory depends on that Laszlo.

Rachel: 32:44 Okay. I think. I think say it’s like 95 percent you’re probably right.

Sarah: 32:48 Well, what they say in that is Karoko is the one who discovers the baby’s gifts and then takes them away. So Karoko takes Laszlo away. We know Laszlo has shown up in this other place basically. So what I kind of think is, is what if Wraith is Karako? What if that was her gift?

Rachel: 33:11 Interesting that she turns into a bird.

Sarah: 33:14 What if she survived.

Rachel: 33:14 Yeah. That’s interesting though because we’ve definitely painted a picture and I think really LainTaylor painted a picture of the Mesarthim, these gods as the bad guys. It’s like a very, very evil. And in fairness, that may be partially because we’re mostly getting the view of like Skathis, and um,

Sarah: 33:31 Isagol.

Rachel: 33:31 Thank you who is Sarai’s mother, the goddess of despair. We’re mostly getting more information about them then I would say anyone else, but like Wraith has been helping them, you know? And in fairness, maybe the gods would be motivated to help their own children, but I didn’t really get that vibe from anywhere else in the book to be honest.

Sarah: 33:49 Yeah. They definitely weren’t motivated to help them while they were all alive

Rachel: 33:54 too an extent.

Sarah: 33:55 It’s pssible that now that Skathis is dead, things are different for Karako. If she survived.

Rachel: 33:59 That’s possible. But it would definitely be interesting because yeah, it would I think paint a different picture of her possibly than some of the other gods if that were true. That’s it.

Sarah: 34:09 Because I noticed there are a lot of mentions about Karako that I think might be sort of leading the reader to wonder about her. The other thing is like that it just sort of occurred to me is like the other thing we get some hints at and then are sort of dropped are about the Seraphim. They’re mentioned for awhile and we don’t really talk about them again.

Rachel: 34:24 White Bird is very angelic.

Sarah: 34:26 Yeah. What if Wraith is related to the Seraphim? What if the Seraphim are going to come back?

Rachel: 34:30 I like that. That’s really interesting. That had not occurred to me.

Sarah: 34:34 Yeah. So those are sort of some of my theories right now.

Rachel: 34:38 I like the Seraphim one. I think you may have won me over on that.

Sarah: 34:40 Yeah, just because they’re mentioned so much so because like part of their belief system, like specifically in Weep, is is that the Seraphim are going to return, so like what if the Seraphim are going to return and it wasn’t the Mesarthim that were this Seraphim, but the real actual Seraphim are going to come back and rain judgement on the people of Weep and these children and like what does that mean? Because like one of the things we’ve talked about the villain in this novel depends on perspective. Like Minya, no question thinks Eril-Fane is the villain.

Rachel: 35:07 For sure. And in some ways he is. In the same way that in some ways Sarai is and some way Minya is.

Sarah: 35:12 Yeah. And I think from Eril-Fane’s perspective, like Minya is a villain and so is Sarai. And like

Rachel: 35:18 I don’t know, I might argue that point.

Sarah: 35:21 Maybe not Sarai. Maybe not Eril-Fane’s opinion, but the opinion of the people of Weep is the children.

Rachel: 35:25 Of the people of Weep for sure. I would say Eril-Fane has a more complicated view of that.

Sarah: 35:29 Yeah. Agreed. So yeah, so it’s all very interesting and I’m just so looking forward to Muse of Nightmares because I want to know. I have so many questions and I want them answered.

Rachel: 35:39 I think there are so many things to learn. I think we’re definitely gonna learn more about the Mesarthium. I hope we’re going to learn a lot more about Laszlo and his past because I want to know why these babies were taken away. Why he in particular was taken away because they make a special point of like anyone with Skathis’s power being taken. So there’s this question of like, is it because Skathis this was a jealous God? Is it because like, were they taking these children away because they didn’t want them to overthrow them? Were they taking them away because they wanted kind of like a backup plan, you know, like if something been to them with this, the idea that like the children would survive and they could like take over.

Sarah: 36:18 Yeah, it’s. Was it Skathis’s plan or was Karako working on her own. Was this, her personal plan.

Rachel: 36:25 Was it a sinister plan? Was it a plan to preserve these children to save them? We don’t even know who Laszlo’s mother was, which is also an interesting point because could she still be alive in Weep? If so, who? You know, there’s, there’s just, there is a lot we don’t know about both Laszlo and all the other children who were taken away and what has happened to them. So I think, I think that’ll be really interesting to see like where, where that all goes.

Sarah: 36:53 Yeah, I am really excited.

Rachel: 36:55 Yeah, me too. And I think we should probably wrap it up there unless you have anything else to say.

Sarah: 37:01 No, I think we have done a pretty good job of, well not of covering everything. There’s too much, honestly, like covered the highlights.

Rachel: 37:09 We could talk about this for another three hours, let’s be honest. But nobody wants to listen to that. And also, um, I don’t know about you but I’m pretty sure I need to go ahead and get ahead on all of my jobs. Just like clear my schedule because when Muse of Nightmares comes out I will be doing nothing else.

Sarah: 37:26 I may have to take some breaks to do my job, you know, like I am expected to work sometimes. But you know, other than that

Rachel: 37:37 Reading, job, reading, job, I don’t know? But seriously, if you guys haven’t already read this book, go read it. The writing is lovely. The world building is just incredible. It’ll blow your mind. It’s just amazing.

Sarah: 37:50 Yeah. And you have like three days to get it read. Before Muse of Nightmares comes out. So good luck.

Rachel: 37:57 Yeah, but do they really have anything more important to do?

Sarah: 38:01 Hmmmm.

Rachel: 38:01 Exactly. Three day reading marathon. Seriously, we hope you guys enjoyed this interlude of from our Harry Potter Marathon.

Sarah: 38:08 We had a lot of fun talking about Strange the Dreamer and we hope you’ll join in the discussion by tweeting us or emailing us your thoughts and questions at unassignedreadingpod at gmail dot co.

Rachel: 38:18 Yeah, and we will definitely be discussing more of our thoughts about Muse of Nightmares and Strange the Dreamer in the next episode, and we’ll be back next month for our regularly scheduled discussion of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

Sarah: 38:29 In the meantime, we leave you with these words of wisdom:

Rachel: 38:32 “Heroes, whatever else they are, are also men, women and prey to human troubles. Just like anyone else.”

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