In-Depth Analysis: Black Sun Rising, by C S Friedman – Chapters 5-9

Last week I posted my as-I-read-them thoughts and analysis of the prologue through chapter 4 of C S Friedman’s Black Sun Rising, the first book of the Coldfire trilogy. This week I’m taking a look at chapters 5 through 9, talking about what I’m reading from chapter to chapter and writing down some more in-depth thoughts than I often find time for during a more general review.

So with that in mind, let’s get right down to it!

Chapter 5

The interior of the boutique was small[…]

The chapter starts off with a bit of amusement: Damien getting new clothes. In multiple layers of varying shades of purple. With Ciani chuckling the whole while. And all I could picture was this as his expression:

stupidbeastBut then we jump to something far more serious as earthquake warning sirens go off, and just about everyone in Jaggonath rushes to the town square for safety. He’s here that we get to see some of the practical benefits of using the fae. Most of the town is warded, intended to essentially take the excess energy of the earthquake and release it harmlessly, providing more stability for buildings and places of safety for citizens. Damien comments that this is something the church ought to be taking advantage of, rather than shunning.

The church, however, seems to have its own failsafes in place. Part of the chapter is told from the viewpoint of the Patriarch, and we get a dropped comment about how the church building has had its stonework reinforced so much over the years that it’s as impervious to earthquake damage as anything warded with the fae. Maybe even moreso. But it’s not really said how it was reinforced. Are we talking actual masonry? A constant team of people who repair even small cracks so that any damage stays out of sight and out of mind?

The Patriarch seems very secure in his belief that the church will stand long after the fae fail and other buildings crumble, so my money’s actually on subconscious fae use. In a previous chapter, Damien noted that the Patriarch could sense and use the fae, though he repressed it and was probably even unaware of it, given his devotion to the church and the church’s view of the fae to begin with. So I figure that security in the church being right and stable and enduring could well be made manifest by the very thing that the Patriarch insists should be avoided.

And if that’s the case, it’s a wonderful dose of irony. Having the thing you hate be the reason that the thing you love — which advocates hating that thing you hate — still stands.

There is one weird bit in this chapter where Damien and Ciani and standing together as the earthquake goes on, and they get turned on, so they go elsewhere and have sex. And I don’t know, but is that really an appropriate time? Was it one of those “life-reaffirming sex” situations, the thrill of a large event, even when you know everyone’s mostly safe? I dunno, that bit just kind of sat wrong with me.

Chapter 6

When the Neoqueen Matilla finally pulled into harbor, it took two men to hold Yiles Jarrom back[…]

An interesting little chapter, this, telling what Yiles Jarrom discovered when his hired ship and its crew make port almost 2 months past the date they were supposed to. One of the crew tells a story of how things were going well enough until the captain forgot the route. And how to read his own notes. And how, little by little, the rest of the crew would start losing their memories, sometimes of things regarding their jobs, sometimes things relating to the rest of their lives.

And at some point in the voyage, the ship picked up 3 mysterious passengers, likely the ones from Chapter 4, and it’s strongly implied that the crew (or at least the crewman telling Yiles the story) can’t actually remember the details of picking them up in the first place.

Not much to really analyze here, but the plot thickens!

Chapter 7

The Patriarch remembered:

A flashback, a memory of when the Patriarch was a young boy, coming home to ask his mother for permission to cross the river with his friends. His mother is an addict, mixing a hallucinogenic powder with her alcohol, something that she’s been warned will kill her eventually but she does anyway.

Stopping right there, I have to say that this chapter is an interesting portrayal of addiction through the eyes of a child. He’s old enough to understand that what his mother is doing is dangerous, even some degree of why it’s dangerous, but he doesn’t seem to be under any ideas that he can stop what she does, nor has he given up on her and become bitter. Ashamed, yes, and he doesn’t want his friends to see her, but there’s no resentful anger in the tone of the writing, and I thought that was interesting.

The to-be-Patriarch’s mother, however, is not exactly in a great state when he finds her. The text doesn’t say whether she’s dead, but it does say that horrific dark things are sitting on her shoulders and picking pieces of her brain out of her head. A literal presentation of the doctor’s words, “It’ll eat your brain,” when advising her to stop taking drugs and alcohol together like that. Honestly, it’s better at that point if she is dead, because it’s hard to stomach the thought of her being alive while dark entities are ripping into her skull.

It’s easy to look at this chapter and to think that it was the mother who brought that end upon herself. That maybe she, in her drug-addled state called demonic things down on herself by accident. Maybe things got out of control. As Ciani said, everything comes back to the fae, and what it can do.

But doesn’t this tie in well with the idea that the Patriarch is manifesting things around him because of his own fae connection? That in his fear that the drugs would eat his mother’s brain, the fae made it happen. Literally. That his fear accidentally killed his own mother.

I kind of feel sorry for the guy.

Chapter 8

Never sleep through the true night[…]

Three minutes of true night, when the sun and the moons have all set and there’s blackness in the sky. When the dark fae come out, with no light to inhibit them. Damien watches the tendrils until a glimpse of light rises above the horizon, then goes back to bed.

Only to be woken up 15 minutes later by a massive explosion, one that he traces back to Ciani’s shop. Fae-wrought fire engulfs the whole thing, and all signs point to Ciani having been inside at the time. Nobody can get close enough to rescue her, and the fire keeps raging. There’s no sign of what caused the explosion. Something attacked, in all likelihood, and her wards backfired, but as to what attacked, that’s unclear.

I think it’s a safe bet to assume it has to do with the dark fae that came out during that brief period of true night, though.

Damien enters grief. The two hadn’t known each other for long, but Damien confesses to the Patriarch, at least, that he thinks he was falling in love with her. The Patriarch, happily, doesn’t take this chance to go on some diatribe about how people who mess with the fae get what’s coming to them, though he does comment that they take their chances and sometimes it doesn’t all work out in the end. Still a painful thing to hear and a bit insensitive to say, but it could have been worse.

He and Damien share their grief and frustration over both of them having experienced a tragedy where all you can do is stand by and watch, feeling useless, though the Patriarch doesn’t mention any detail about his own experience.

Chapter 9

It’s finished, the first one whispered.

Is it going to be a pattern in this book that every 5 chapters, there’s a convenient cliffhanger-y spot that falls perfectly where I’ll stop analyzing for the week? Because that would be kind of awesome.

This one’s extremely short, a single page, and it’s back to the mysterious people from Chapters 4 and 6. They’re silently discussing the explosion amongst themselves, and it’s amazing just how much can be hinted at in a few short sentences.

“We could have killed her ourselves,” means they weren’t the ones that triggered the wards and caused the fire and Ciani’s death. Commenting that her rich full life was delicious hints at them being… I don’t know? Memory-eaters? Feeding on a person’s experiences, the events that make up a person, and it makes sense that such a thing would leave holes in the memory, like what happened with the crew of the Neoqueen Matilla. And, “It is finished,”could mean that Ciani’s death was a task that had to be done, if not by them then by someone, or it could simply mean that the fire’s out and the event itself is over for the time being.

I want to know more about these people! Who are they? What do they want? What are they doing in Jaggonath? This is the downside with trying to go slowly and look at things chapter by chapter, because now that things are really getting going, all I want to do is keep reading without all that irritating commentary business I’ve committed myself to!

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