READALONG: Full Fathom Five, by Max Gladstone: Week 1

The group is back together for a readalong of Max Gladstone’s Full Fathom Five! This is the third book in the Craft series, which I’m loving a whole lot, and I enjoy sharing the experience with other readers like this. This week’s questions are regarding the first 13 chapters, and come to us courtesy of Allie, from Tethyan Books.

1) Kai kicks off the story by risking her life in an attempt to save the idol Alpha Seven. Why do you think she chose to try? Do you think idols truly non-sentient?

First off, Kai just seems like the kind of person to do that. It’s revealed a little later that she’s exactly the sort of person who takes those risks, who does what other people don’t typically do when she feels a thing is right, and she didn’t want to give up on Alpha Seven. (Side note – Does this mean there was an Alpha Five? Is anyone else having Power Rangers flashbacks?)

Second, at least at this point, it wouldn’t surprise me to find that the idol influenced her in some way. I don’t think the idols are truly non-sentient. Sporadic rudimentary intelligence, perhaps, but that’s still something.

Either way, I think at this point, I have too few details to make a clear judgment as to why she might have. I get the feeling there’s a piece of the puzzle I’m missing entirely. Not just something that’s only been mentioned in some vague incomprehensible way. Something that hasn’t been mentioned at all. I guess I’ll have to see if the book bears me out on that one.

2) I think this is the first time we’ve seen idols, and they have their similarities and differences to gods and craftsmen. Do you think they serve a useful purpose? If you were in this world, would you prefer faith, Craft, or idols?

I suppose it would depend on what I’m looking for. Idols seem comparable to a bank vault, whereas gods are somewhat comparable to an investment strategy. With gods, you get payoff. This for that. With idols, it seems like a stopgap solution to provide an outlet for religious leanings without actually being religious, to let that side of a person out and to put a little of your soul where nobody else can get it.

Spiritual banking? Can you make withdrawals from idols?

3) I found it interesting that priests/priestesses are able to change or reform their bodies in the pool, during their initiation. If it were possible, would you want to make use of this power or not?

So very much. In the worst possible way. I’m one of those suckers who got dropped into the wrong sex body at birth, so I’d very much love to fix that, for starters. Fix my lousy eyes so that they can see without glasses or contact lenses. Fix my lousy lungs so that I can breathe properly without needing medication. Fix my lousy skin so that I stop breaking out in an allergic rash when I’m exposed to sunlight. (This is very much a thing. A thing that sucks.)

Erm, yes. Without going into too long a litany of my medical and physical issues, let’s just leave it at yes, there are many things I’d love to change, if I had the chance to reform myself. It goes beyond correcting a few inconveniences, and comes right down to the fact that I’m pretty uncomfortable in the skin I’m in, and I’m not the me I want to be. Having the chance to change that would be, well, a divine gift.

4) A few familiar faces show up from Three Parts Dead, Cat and Ms. Kevarian! Is this how you would have expected them to be living, after the events of that novel? [Three Parts Dead spoiler warning for answers to this question]

Not in the slightest. Well, for Kevarian, it doesn’t exactly surprise me. We haven’t seen much of her yet, but she still seems much like the character I remember. Cat, though… I was really surprised to see her show up, and I wondered for a moment if perhaps it was a different character who just had the same name.

Definitely interested in seeing more of them as the novel goes on, see how they play into this current story.

5) Izza is in a difficult situation; she wants to take care of the other street children, but she also wants to protect herself. What do you think of how she is attempting to meet both goals? Do you think she was right to stop leading the stories and rituals for the other children?

I can sympathize with Izza to a degree. She’s got a lot on her shoulders, probably more than she can reasonably take. Her loyalty to them is admirable, and it takes a great amount of strength to make a decision for yourself, and then turn around and make sure that other people will be okay while you do what you need to do.

But I don’t think what she did is a matter or ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ I think it’s more a matter of growing up and making tough choices. It may have been hard on the children; when you’re a kid, everything seems to be how it always was, so Izza’s choice to stop the stories must have been a shock to those who had come to rely on them, see them as a point of stability and constance. No doubt in the future, someone else will take over that role, keep the rituals going, because they can and people want them to.

But I think she did what she had to do, and this was the best compromise she could think of. Not the most ideal solution, but one of the easiest ways to satisfy two opposing goals.

6) There is a lot that is hinted near the end of this section, with the line “Howl, Bound World” and the poet Edmond Margot. What do you think it is that ties together Seven Alpha, Kai, Izza, and Margot?

Honestly? Whatever I think about this will probably be proven wrong by the end of the novel anyway, because that’s just what happens in this series. It could be that the idol was more sentient than people realised and it sent out dying thoughts that certain sensitive people picked up. It could be that the thought came from elsewhere and it was just coincidental timing that Kai was trying to save the idol when it hit her. It could be something I haven’t considered yet.

7 comments on “READALONG: Full Fathom Five, by Max Gladstone: Week 1

  1. Fix my lousy skin so that I stop breaking out in an allergic rash when I’m exposed to sunlight. (This is very much a thing. A thing that sucks.)

    Verily, it sucks. I’m so deeply grateful I had sun allergies only once. It was a nightmare. I am totally with you on changing that!

    Cat, though… I was really surprised to see her show up, and I wondered for a moment if perhaps it was a different character who just had the same name.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who had that feeling when Cat appeared. I’m really curious about what the book is going to show us of her story after the events in Three Parts Dead.

    • Re: the allergy – Yeah. It’s gotten worse over the past few years. Last year my hands would break out in a painful itchy rash if I sat too long near a curtained window during the day. it’s been easier this year, since I’m taking allergy pills every day, mostly avoiding the outside world a lot, and soon I’ll be switching my schedule to one where I’m awake overnight and I sleep during the day, so I hope that helps cut down on further attacks.

      I feel like a geek stereotype. Overweight, asthmatic, allergic to sunlight… Maybe I’m a geek vampire. I’d be okay with that, actually. :p

  2. I hadn’t considered the idol having influenced her, either. There are so many open possibilities at this point!

    I would also definitely use the pool, though in my answer I only specified to fix my eyesight (I guess because it is actually hard for me to talk about the things I would want to change). A more complete list would include fixing my eyesight, curing my allergies, fixing my natural spine curvature and removing the effects of childhood fluoride poisoning. I used to have daydreams about wishes and genies with respect to these things when I was a kid.

    I was surprised to see Cat there, too. She seems to be doing so much worse than I’d hoped at the end of Three Parts Dead :(. Also, I have a lot of respect for the way Izza’s handling things right now.

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  4. The idol may be sneakier than it seems – I also hadn’t considered the whole influence thing. Looking back, I suppose I should have, heh! It’s a really neat idea, though (if a bit unnerving…) so it’ll be interesting to see if it pans out later on.

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