FIRSTBORN & CAST IN OBLIVION Spoiler thread

Posted in writing.

I’m posting this here so that people can discuss the books without spoiling people who haven’t read them yet.

I am currently other­wise working on page proofs for War, due back the morning of the 28th of February, and the next Cast novel, which… has no title, but is the book that follows Cast in Oblivion.

I will prob­ably (hope­fully!) finish it on my writing retreat in Bris­bane, Australia.

ETA: In general, authors and readers do not discuss reader reac­tions to books. We never comment on reviews. We don’t enter reader-spaces (like goodreads, etc.) because those are reader spaces, and in those spaces, readers should feel free to say what­ever they want without fear of author anger or tears.

We are all passionate about books. We love books and stories in a way that is, and will always be, internal and personal. There are bound to be visceral responses — some of which will be anger, although not all.

But it’s hard at times to stay away from your own home, if that makes sense. So I am going to remind you all that this is my home on the internet and one of the few places I do feel I should be reading and responding to things. You are absolutely enti­tled to your reac­tions and your dislikes — I would never, ever say other­wise. Nor would I argue with your opin­ions because, well, I hate olives and nothing is going to convince me that I don’t. Even if you love them.

I go out to more public spaces once or twice a year, and I read them: goodreads, amazon, etc. But… I know myself well enough to know when things will knock me off my feet and when they will not. When these reviews are in the ether, when they’re not in my virtual living room, I have that choice. I can read, I can take in what’s said, I can assess it. It’s a partic­u­larly intel­lec­tual and distanced state of mind.

But it’s once or twice a year, and beyond that, I don’t check. I think it’s incred­ibly impor­tant to have spaces in which readers can vent. In which they don’t have to filter. In which they’re talking to other readers, because that’s the point of reviews: it’s meant for other readers.

While I am a reader, and I find review sites valu­able for books that I will read, I can’t read reviews of my own work as if I’m a reader. So: I stay away because distance is <em>not</em> what I want <em>as a writer</em>.

But first thing in the morning when I sit down to write and see the noti­fi­ca­tion — because I *also* don’t have google alerts or etc., turned on — it seri­ously knocks me completely off kilter. I have to attempt to pull right out of the writer-state in order to assess, and it can be a struggle to get back into the mental spaces from which story comes.

Once again: you are enti­tled to your reac­tion, to your responses, to your opin­ions. But… I’m going to ask you to filter or to find ways of expressing disap­point­ment that are, yes, much more tactful. Failing that, I’ll ask you to go to town with the visceral impulse of venting disap­point­ment — but to do it at one of the other public sites that are built and meant for that.

If that’s what’s coming in from my home on the internet, I will have to ignore it the way I ignore most spaces on the internet – because it impacts my ability to write.

And … I would like to have a virtual home and a virtual living room on the internet.

Again: I am NOT arguing with your reac­tions. I am not saying that you shouldn’t have them. But I’m asking you to think of my personal web-site as a living room in which you’re a guest.

57 Responses to FIRSTBORN & CAST IN OBLIVION Spoiler thread

  1. Scott says:

    Haval’s role in the forma­tion of the Astari was signalled earlier; and given that Jarven had intro­duced Devin (absent from _Firstborn_) to the Terafin, it was clear he also had some asso­ci­a­tion with the Astari — but it was a surprise to learn he was the driving force behind its creation. There’s always been mystery asso­ci­ated with Haval; the hint that Illaraphanial’s herald is “one who dispenses wisdom” in _Firstborn_ leads one to wonder as to Haval’s origins…

    pp. 146, second para, might have a missing word or two in Teller’s greeting to Meralonne. “We continue grateful.” ?

  2. Julianne Single says:

    Thanks Michelle! Took off work so I could stay up late reading oblivion as soon as it down­loaded to my Kindle at midnight. I think in oblivion Kaylin was forced to grow up a but more than in the past, or at least forced her to think about how her actions could affect others which is more or less the same. This makes me a little sad since I love the young awkward act first think later impul­sive Kaylin. I was happy to see a little of the old Kaylin still shine through in moments like where she insists on wearing her boots with the dress the consort sent. Everyone was so tense I admit to missing Teela hanging out in Kaylin’s bed or stealing her food and I kept thinking they should play chess with the little figures Helen made or the boys would be racing one another down the banis­ters or some­thing but this book was defi­nitely a bit more serious. But I guess creepy shadows in the base­ment and rulers coming to dinner will do that. I do love how Kaylin seems to collect random and unusual stray immor­tals. Anyway my two favorite quotes are both on the first page of chapter 9. “Kaylin, born — as far as she knew — in the fief of Night­shade, didn’t believe that life was fair. It wasn’t. She knew it. But if life wasn’t fair, she reserved the right to whine about it.” I mean so Kaylin right there. And “All eyes had swiveled toward Kaylin, and while Kaylin was human enough to want atten­tion, this was not the kind of atten­tion she some­times craved. She’d had night­mares like this — but, on the bright side, at least she was still wearing clothing.” Because who hasn’t had that standing on stage naked dream right?

  3. michelle says:

    @Scott: no, sadly, that was me. It’s appar­ently an anti­quated phrase that was used in the 50s but, ummm, not anymore. It’s slightly more formal. “We continue grateful for your service” “I continue grateful for your efforts on my behalf”.

    T_T

    I read more than I speak (which, if you’ve ever had to listen to me, will prob­ably seem impos­sible), and some things that seem entirely natural to me *in print* or *type* are… perhaps not as natural as they once were.

  4. michelle says:

    @Julianne: I had 3 anxiety dreams that plagued me when I was very stressed out in waking life.

    1. Losing all my teeth. Like, liter­ally, having them fall out of my mouth while I’m desper­ately trying to keep them where they are

    2. Being at work (in a random profes­sional office, and I only worked in offices as a student) without clothing.

    3. Waking up to realize I was LATE FOR MY EXAM. (I haven’t had this one in a handful of years, and yes, it was 30 years ago that I had my last final exam. Some things never get old, appar­ently).

    The latter 2 appear to be more common than the first one, though…

  5. Tchula says:

    I’ve had the losing my teeth dream, but I assume that’s because I was grinding them in my sleep.

    I’ve never had the dream where I’m totally naked, but I have had the dream where I forgot to change my slip­pers into regular shoes and gone to school/work that way. I wonder what that means? That I’m a little anxious, but not a lot? ;-P

    I still have the dream where I meant to drop a class in college, but I forgot to do it by the drop date and since I never went to class, now I’m going to fail the exam. I rarely have stress dreams about work – it’s always about school, even though I finished school in 1998.

  6. Tchula says:

    @Scott Jarven’s role in the forma­tion of the Astari surprised me as well. I thought Haval had been the Lord of the Compact in the past, but this book explic­itly stated that was not the case. I’m surprised Jarven wouldn’t have wanted to stay in that role, if he created the service, rather than joining Terafin.

    Seems like now, he’s plan­ning on pitting himself against the gods, or at least, Allasakar. For a moment, when he was meeting with Hectore early on, I assumed they had come to some agree­ment of coop­er­a­tion about this, since Hectore threat­ened to bring down the god(s) and/or the church respon­sible for his granddaughter’s Sleep. But it doesn’t seem like they have a concrete agree­ment to work together on this in actu­ality.

    Another thing that surprised me was the purpose of the ring Sigurne holds. I assumed it contained some portion of Meralonne’s power, in order to allow him the seeming of a human by weak­ening him. But it seems as though the magic seeping back into the world and the prox­imity of Arianne is what will allow him to gain the power of his former self. So that was unex­pected.

  7. Tarun Elankath says:

    I bought and read First­born and I have very mixed feel­ings. There is too much circular talking in this book with every char­acter pontif­i­cating and giving a lecture to Finch or Jewel. Espe­cially, Jarven and Haval! We have *so* much dialogue about Jarven that my eyes were bleeding.

    Most of the dialogue was extremely repet­i­tive, irri­tating and point­less. Even different people were saying the same words iden­ti­cally like mind­less clones! Your editor should have taken a hacksaw and just chopped those parts away. If you subtract all the Jarven/Haval lectures, mono­logues and conver­sa­tions about Jarven, this book would be *half* its size!

    The bits about the Cats were also repet­i­tive. We don’t really need to read “Sssstu­piddd!” every para­graph. We already know they like to insult Jewel from the last few books. I think ‘Stupid’ is the most frequently used 6 letter word in the book…

    The parts about Jewel and her company were good — when they were *doing* some­thing as opposed to just talking. Angel going one on one against a Demon and winning was awesome. Calliastra joining Jewel and staying with her, the actual standoff with the Warlord — those were the inter­esting bits.

    I so wish there was more time spent on the *real* stuff. You are utterly terrific — amongst the best writers in this world — at writing action or suspense when you choose to _focus_ on them. Unfor­tu­nately, there was little of it in this book. It was mostly filled with frequent point­less eye-rolling lectures, repet­i­tive mono­logues, pages of self-intro­spec­­tion and _constant_ cater­wauling. Please just burn away those bits next time with wild-fire and let the living Earth bury the ashes! Frankly, First­born and War could have been just one good book.

    In short — this book should have been half its size and it would have been a tight, enjoy­able story.

  8. Tchula says:

    @Tarun I agree with some of this, although person­ally I really liked the comparison/contrast between Jarven, Haval, and Hectore. Jarven is Jewel’s “monster” and I look forward to seeing what he can do.

    Like you, I did find that the cats disrupted scenes unnec­es­sarily where infor­ma­tion was being given and it pulled me out of the moment. There were also many times where certain char­ac­ters had the answers to ques­tions but didn’t give them cuz reasons. Which is one of the things that bug me in books, movies, and TV. If people would just explain things to others better, prob­lems could be avoided/solved.

    I hope now that Jewel is accepting her powers and respon­si­bil­i­ties, War will move along more tightly, with less waxing philo­soph­ical and more action. Let the Seasons change finally! ;-)

  9. Earle R Davis says:

    Michelle I was wondering when the boy and girl from the singer’s oath series will show up in war?

  10. michelle says:

    Jarven is neces­sary for later (not in WAR so much as beyond it), but I consider him part of Finch’s arc – past to present – for struc­tural and emotional reasons.

    Those reasons clearly did not work for everyone =/.

    I think Tarun will like WAR better, because WAR is pretty much all ending (well, no, but when I hit chapter six in page proofs my first thought was, wait, already??).

    When I was looking at having to lose words, Jarven was one of the elements I did consider cutting. But he’s part of Finch’s arc and its solidity on the inside of my head, and also: if no Jarven here, no Jarven-as-he-becomes anywhere; what happened could only happen before the end of WAR, because Jewel would never other­wise allow it.

    And I consid­ered Jarven going forward, and whether or not I could do without him in the End of Days arc, and did not cut.

    The funny – if very painful – thing about this is that *for me* the only parts of the book that I was sure were solid were … Jarven, Finch, Haval. And Stacy.

    All of the rest of it I was vastly, vastly less confi­dent about.

  11. Julianne Single says:

    @Michelle argh! The teeth falling out dream! (Or crum­bling to dust in my mouth prob­ably because I clench them rather than grinding like Tchula) I had that one a lot when I had braces the second time and also around any dental work. How was you recent work by the way? Everyone survived?

    I also had for awhile obnox­ious dreams involving a spider drop­ping down into my bed from the ceiling that was real enough to send me leaping out of bed to turn on the lights and look for the creepy crawlies totally freaked out until I could calm myself the heck down even after I recog­nized they were dreams they still had the power to thor­oughly freak me out. If I could have figured out where the spider dreams came from I would have opened up a big old can of bug spray. Now I twitch when I see spiders. Aaaaaaaaand now that I’ve made everyone do the giant eight legged hairy spider dance of fear, I will leave on that note.

  12. michelle says:

    @Julianne: for about 3 weeks when I was a teenager, there was this spider that would hover above my bed-lamp *while I was reading*. I really did want to call it Char­lotte. It was never there while the lights were on and I was not in bed reading, but when the lights — except for bed-lamp — were off, it would just lower itself on a single thread and hover about 2 feet above the pages.

  13. @theresaarwen says:

    I enjoyed First­born. I think when readers have been waiting for the contin­u­a­tion of a story for a long time, and it’s finally published, they initially read only for the story. We get impa­tient with secondary char­ac­ters, internal musings — anything that seems to get in the way of the story moving forward. We just want to find out what happens next! But your House War books make great re-reading … on the second (or third 🙂) read through, all these details add texture and rich­ness to the series as a whole. Thanks for the books!

  14. Julianne Single says:

    @Michelle I’m doing a mini giant eight legged hairy spider dance of fear. Eugh. Dare I ask what happened after 3 weeks? I didn’t used to be a basket case about arach­nids my mother was actu­ally one of those sorts who couldn’t hurt anyone or anything and would scoop bugs into jars for trans­porta­tion outside. I don’t think I could have stuck around with a spider dangling over­head. The cat once knocked a daddy long legs into my bed for real while I was working up the nerve to deal with it and let’s just say the couch look real tempting. On the other hand scien­tists say it’s a myth that we swallow a certain number of spiders per year. Unless its inten­tional. There was this boy in the 5th grade you know what never mind; )

  15. michelle says:

    @theresaarwen: Thank you <3.

    @Julianne: I think it went away. Or got eaten. Or died of old age. It was a small spider and while I gener­ally don’t love them — at all — it seemed pretty content to just sit there while I was reading. I wouldn’t have been happy had it attempted to, oh, land on the pages or me or anything — but, no. It kind of just stayed suspended on a single thread while I read and turned pages.

  16. ome says:

    May I be really cheeky and perhaps get ahead of myself a bit here and ask when we are likely to see the End of Days books please? (I know we haven’t had War yet, but I like to plan for the future!)

  17. michelle says:

    @ome: Well, I haven’t finished the first book yet. I don’t have contracts in hand yet, but I have about 60k words. I’m rereading all of the earlier books, though, before circling back to those 60k words.

    So that’s a longer way of saying: I don’t know.

    I started HOUSE WAR because of Jewel and Aver­alaan. It… did not go as planned when I first set out to write it; I intended some­thing highly polit­ical. But I needed to know exactly where Jewel would be, because hers was the thread that was uncer­tain. And now I know.

    I am consid­ering writing a series of posts about my writing process — but I’m always hesi­tant to do that because I don’t want people who are starting out on their own writing process voyage to feel that it’s prescrip­tive.

    Also: I have one outstanding novella that I’ve started 5 times now that is not finished, and I’m trying to get that done.

  18. Ahb says:

    I’d love to read about your process because mine is driving me mad at the moment.

    I enjoyed first­born, and I enjoy jarven/haval/hectore/andrei. I do agree that there is a lot of threads going on here, and that the overall narra­tive arc is tanta­lizing with just first­born in hand, but I’ve felt that way since we came home to aver­laan and it was clear jewel needed to be more than she was comfort­able being.

    In partic­ular I like that jewel goes into the wilder­ness several times, trying to find her way, because it feels very authentic. We are all full of doubt when approaching some­thing larger than we are, and it’s natural to stumble a few times. From the funeral, to the trip to the oracle (and back) it’s clear that jewel’s path to Arianne that started so long ago in the deep­ings and continued in the south is still filled with confu­sion. “Some­times I dream gods die.” continues to resonate. It’s only some­times that she is so certain in herself.

    I also hate that it feels like so ‘little’ was accom­plished because our char­ac­ters are still in the same phys­ical place with regard to the upcoming threat, securing the city, and the journey to Arianne. It’s a hate inspired by empathy for our crew of lovable Terafins, and a wish that things could be easier for them. Of course, I don’t know how you could resolve that start and stop nature of confronting your own fear of becoming more than you are without a return to the comfort­able. A return to the known. Partic­u­larly given jewels nature and views on family.

    It is an excel­lent book, just as it is, and I don’t think I would change a word of it for fear of losing that inspired agony. Well done.

  19. Julianne Single says:

    Michelle I think you should write about your writing process if you want to with the caveat that there are many ways to come at a thing and this is yours. I’m not a writer by any stretch though I’ve written a few short stories but nothing to write home about. But I too find it much easier to just write down what’s in my head rather than develop an outline like is taught in school and then fill in from there. If anything school tries to teach students there should only be one way to come at a thing since if you didn’t submit your outline with your paper whether it was a research paper or a story you lost points. And i strug­gled so hard with that. I wanted to just WRITE not explain how I was going to write some­thing before I even wrote and then get locked in to the dumb outline. I often found it easier if I could to write first than throw together an outline to please the teachers.

    It’s like, oh that new math they are now insisting on teaching. And the you have to show a ridicu­lous amount of work for simple equa­tions and the kids lose points if they do the problem in their heads and not show the work or the outline. But you know there’s a whole lot of ways to solve say an algebra problem and if you’ve ever tried to set up or solve an algebra problem with someone who was taught a different way to set up their problem well it’s a whole lot of confu­sion. You get the same answer but you come at it different ways.

    Person­ally I follow several different authors (yes I’ll admit its mostly because I want updates on the next release and some­times authors toss out a para­graph or scene like little bread­crumbs diana gabaldon does this that woman is seri­ously orga­nized but then she is a doctorate before she decided to quit her research job and start writing novels) and its always inter­esting to see what authors choose to show of their writing process. One author I follow even prefers to still write on paper and doodles in the outline even. Not being an author I don’t have much weight but person­ally if I were to start writing I’d look around and see how others were doing it but I’d do what works best for me. And of course with anything whether they hope to make a career of it or just a hobby to try and try again.

  20. Carrie Hamilton says:

    Michelle, I also enjoyed First­born, and I under­stand it served the purpose of bringing together a number of threads in prepa­ra­tion for War. I have noticed, however, that Avandar has taken a back seat in the past few books. I know you DO NOT write romance novels (yes, I read that article), but it seemed to me at certain points previ­ously that he was going to provide a different kind of anchor for Jewel from that of the den:I suspected you might even be going in a direc­tion similar to that of the end of The Sundered series. I assume we will we see more of Avandar in War and in the End of Days because his story remains unfin­ished. Like others, though, I am a bit tired of the cats saying “Stupid”, so I hope he develops beyond that point as well. Thanks again for your hard work in providing readers satis­fac­tion with such a compli­cated series.

  21. Tyronne Hodgins says:

    Well, I’ve read both Oblivion and First­born in rapid succes­sion — THANK YOU SO MUCH Michelle!!!!! Will start reading them again shortly for nuance. First time is just for the fun of the roller coaster ride!

    Oblivion — most amusing thought — Which Barrani is going to teach Kaylin since the Consort believes she now needs lessons? Poor Kaylin, poor poor Kaylin :)

    First­born — Stunned that Jarven created the Astari. Thought — Does Duvari know this? Carver — Did not think he would survive but one had hopes. Thought — Is he is truly gone from this story­line? Why do I think he still has a part to play. Can’t wait to find out! Haval — Hhmm­mmmm?!? Never an Astari yet Duvari doesn’t play well with him. Jarven and Haval — respect but do not trust each other. Some­thing most unusual there. Not sure what — yet!

    Final note: Keep up the great work Michelle! Your work is ALWAYS worth waiting for!

    p.s. I love the Cats!!!! When Jewel finally figures out what they are, everyone will be most surprised.

  22. Julianne Single says:

    I’ve started reading the sacred hunt the other night I know Michelle has often said that people who enjoy her books written under the Sagara penname may not enjoy the ones by the West name. And perhaps to some extent that may be true, as I enjoy the Cast novels immensely. I do prefer char­acter driven books over plot driven ones most times and I rather love the char­ac­ters of the Cast world and the sneaky bits of humor Michelle drops in sprin­kled about like bread­crumb. I’ve also enjoyed a rather unas­suming reluc­tant down to earth heroine that despite all her lessons to the contrary is still stymied by social inter­ac­tion and which fork to use. But I’ve also read the books of the queen of the dead and while they were enjoy­able I didn’t enjoy them as much but perhaps that may be the intended audi­ence wasn’t me . Supporting Michelle’s suppo­si­tion is that I read the first book of the house war upon finishing all the Cast novels I could lay my hot little hands on (I think it was flight and you all will know the joy of discov­ering an author that struck all the rele­vant chords AND has multiple published books of both the series you just started and others what joy!) And while I didn’t dislike the char­ac­ters didn’t speak to me like the Cast novels and I couldn’t get vested into caring enough to go on. But listening to yall go on about the novels some who seem to have read one series and some both, I may give it another go. It seems some­thing that gets better reread or I was just too hung up on the world of ekantra.

    I do believe I’m capable of enjoying books that are plot driven with multiple POV shifts, as I’ve read Martin’s GoT, and Jordan’s WoT among others. If I can put up with Jordan’s chapter long prequel or leaving a char­acter in dire straits to cut to some minor person who shows up for one chapter only to die a horrible and messy death to prove the evil the world faces is truly bad ass and you don’t come back to the poor char­acter left in limbo for many chap­ters and char­ac­ters I think I can look more openly at the house war.

    Still I think Kaylin is my favorite so far.

    Speaking of Kaylin I was thinking that she picked up half dozen names more or less in Oblivion, and other than her mentioning that her hand felt heavy while they were in the cavern, it was never mentioned again so I’m inter­ested to see what happens to the names. Also what happens to Kaylin’s new name­held I don’t know why but like Kaylin I hope they don’t just kill her even though we know next to nothing about her except that she sees herself as basi­cally power­less facing an eter­nity of licking someone boots (its inter­esting idea for the Barrani) and was tempted over to the dark side. With Kaylin seeing herself as power­less weak mortal, I almost sense another valu­able inter­species lesson for Kaylin who sees all Barrani as beau­tiful perfect and powerful. Although I’ve often wondered why there aren’t any less than beau­tiful perfect Barrani wandering around. I mean after all if you have two beau­tiful perfect people trying to fight one another with bladed weapons some­times someone ends up losing a limb or an eye or bearing an obvious scar. Other than tain and his chipped tooth the all of the ones Kaylin has met anyway are perfect. Or maybe I’m just a little vindic­tive and would like an almost perfect Barrani to wander into Kaylin’s life.

    I also enjoyed that Kaylin finally heard Hope in his portable form and wonder if it will continue if its some­thing that Kaylin has learned or if iits Hope and he will only be under­stood when its conve­nient… to him. I too wonder if Kaylin will find herself stuck taking lessons at the Barrani court as the consort threat­ened and also if she will brave the Arkon’s annoy­ance to learn more about the chosen. Kaylin often makes so many promises to herself in the heat of the moment or under pres­sure or receives threats for some­thing to happen but some­times nothing comes from it or not right away.

  23. hanneke28 says:

    I enjoyed both Cast in Oblivion and First­born.
    The night after finishing First­born, I woke up about five times just softly saying to myself “Carver…”.
    Your books are always so exactly emotion­ally *right*, the people in them just could not choose differ­ently and stay them­selves. It was the right choice, but it packs a punch.
    Thank you for writing these great series.

  24. Paula Lieberman says:

    General comment regard the kitties: they are three large, annoying, often incon­ve­nient, annoying cats – and they want the readers to have some visceral expe­ri­ence. It wouldn;t be them, without the repeated commen­tary of “…STUPID..!” … [I got a friend to read and buy Skir­mish by reading him long excerpts over the phone where Shadow, Night, and Snow were chewing the scenery, step­ping on toes, and shoving one one another and other char­ac­ters around, and of course calling the cast of char­ac­ters “stupid!”… the other books are on his list of things to get and listen to on Audible [his eyesight is not up to novel reading anymore.] I decided not to spoiler, “We are not -hers-, she is OURS!” for him in First­born.…

    I’m wondering if [spec­u­la­tion alert
    s
    p
    e
    c
    u
    l
    a
    t
    i
    o
    n
    a
    l
    e
    r
    t
    the Maubreche Gardener is Illlaraphaniel’s Herald. When the Gardener showed himself as an Ariannia warrior, I got a bit bemused and wondered, “Could he and not Meralonne be the non-Sleeper, fourth Prince of the First­born? But then what is Meralonne?” and when Meralonne -was- revealed to the readers as that fourth Prince, there was “but then who/what is the Gardener?!”
    e
    n
    d
    s
    p
    e
    c
    u
    l
    a
    t
    i
    o
    n

    And now, of course, I am impa­tient for War…

  25. Tchula says:

    @Paula That was my thought, too, that perhaps the Gardener is Meralonne’s Herald. I can’t think why else another Arianni would be outside of the Hidden Ways yet not be Sleeping. Can’t wait to find out though!

  26. Kristine says:

    In one of the earlier books it is hinted that Jewel will get to talk to Rath and Amarais once more- for one last time. I do hope that scene is coming up in War- It feels like I’ve been waiting for it forever now.

  27. The Other Michelle says:

    Just finished First­born and my kids keep asking why I’m crying. That was wrenching. I loved all of the character/relationship/emotional devel­op­ment. It’s inter­esting to see how all of the rela­tion­ships are made/unmade/remade. While I did miss Avandar’s, Meralonne’s, and Kallan­dras’ voices, it was worth it for Hectore/Andrei (also, while I never want them to be parted, Jewel getting Andrei to promise to come to her when Hectore passes was moving) and the infor­ma­tion about Haval and Jarven and what they’re building for Jewel and the citi­zens of Aver­alaan.

    Count me as someone who enjoys any and all cat-related bits. I was so relieved that they reap­peared after the tangle. I thought they might take longer to get home and was glad they didn’t. They provide levity and keep things from becoming too grim. I also love all of the denizens of the wilder­ness.

    Can’t wait for War!

    As for Oblivion, I’m enjoying a more thoughtful, compe­tent Kaylin. I like that she can remain herself, but also sees the value in growing in knowl­edge.

  28. The Other Michelle says:

    @Kristine — yes! Not so much Amarais for me, but I do want a Rath/Jewel reunion.

    Ideally, for me, the series would end with Jewel saying her good­byes across the bridge to Rath and Amarais and then the entire Den just hanging out together, choosing not to move on until they’ve had quiet, safe, happy time to spend together again.

  29. DeDe says:

    Loved it. The cats did pull me out of the story a couple of times — but I still love their banter/bickering.

    First­born feels so close to an ending. and Carver… Ahhh When Ellerson signs his name. :( I cried. I stayed up late to finish, and then just laid there with the book resting on my chest. I didn’t want to put it back on the shelf.

    Really impressed with how First­born has set up future endings/closures. Andrei & Hectore, Angel’s promise?? to Ellerson

    Thanks Michelle!

  30. alpikinz says:

    Honestly, as much as the high from skir­mish and battle, I have been feeling let down by oracle and again with first­born.
    As a reader, I feel now the last two books of war are actu­ally unrav­eling, story­line wise. If you want to flesh out your back­ground char­ac­ters, it should have been done in earlier books, not the last two books.
    I am totally annoyed by the repeat circular char­ac­ters. Also, what HAPPENED to Avandar? He was such a promising char­acter, now to be rele­gated to the back­ground while jarven became impor­tant?
    I know you want to build for the next arc series, but this war series is about jewel, should be about jewel, not about the other char­ac­ters for the next series… where is Devon?
    What’s the used of the ending in the “battle” book, if jewel turned out kept coming back to her house instead of finishing her quest…
    I had always bought at least two of each book release (hard cover and paper­back) and had always referred your books to others.
    In compar­ison to the war series, the sun sword series was a much more solid works with less dribble, where each book moving forward instead of going back over and over to flesh out unim­por­tant char­acter.
    But as things progressing now, as a reader, I am very disap­pointed, and contem­plating not only no longer going to refer your works to others, but not following your work any longer.
    Honestly, it shouldn’t take 12 books for a main char­acter to grow up and keep going home without any point.

  31. anonymous says:

    I read the new Cast, and I also really liked seeing the signs of growth in Kaylin this time around. I was proud of her for doing some race/history research without too much nudging, and for being able to show some manners and control her tongue during her formal inter­ac­tions with the Barrani. I was glad she finally sees Night­shade as a person, and I was happy to hear a line or two from the Lord of the West March. Terrano has more depth of char­acter than I thought he would.

    So many char­ac­ters are becoming more fleshed out and intriguing as Kaylin develops more insight and discern­ment. And the way she defeated the Thing under the High Halls’ Tower was unex­pected and so Kaylin! I loved this book. Can’t wait for the next!

  32. michelle says:

    @alpikinz:

    First, I want to thank you for reading my West novels and supporting them for so long.

    One of the strongest fears of an author writing a contin­uing series/world is … the loss of readers who have, until whichever book, been on board. It’s not the same as failing to engage a reader with the first book. A new reader might not like my style, my story, the way I express char­acter, etc.

    A reader who’s been reading all along obvi­ously did like them, and some­thing I’ve done, some deci­sion I’ve made, some direc­tion I’ve taken the story in, has lost them.

    I under­stand your frus­tra­tion, I have heard it. There’s not a lot I can do to change either of the books you dislike; there’s actu­ally nothing I can do to change WAR at this point either.

    I am going to do some­thing here that I don’t gener­ally do anywhere. I am going to explain why it was impor­tant to me to write the books as I wrote them.

    This is always fraught, because I am not trying to change your reac­tion, and I am not going to argue with the reac­tion itself. As I said, you’ve made clear what you don’t like, and why you don’t like it. I am not expecting to change that, here – and in the end, that’s not my job. My job is to write books that move me, and to hope that they will move my readers.

    In this case, I failed you.

    ***

    Obvi­ously, for me as the writer, the things you dislike so strongly are not unnec­es­sary.

    FIRSTBORN is the first of the books in which one sees the damage Jewel entirely unin­ten­tion­ally causes and the lives she unin­ten­tion­ally either destroys or — well, no, destroys. Is there a reason for that destruc­tion? Yes, in one case — but no, in the other. It’s not a demonic destruc­tion. It’s not a destruc­tion that is evident to the rest of the world. To me, it’s rele­vant. The Oracle is rele­vant. The Hidden Court is rele­vant. It’s hard to fully discuss this without spoiling WAR, so the expla­na­tion is not, of neces­sity, complete.

    FIRSTBORN is the book in which some of the choices Jewel makes are revealed to be entirely the wrong choices in any prac­tical sense. In an emotional sense, no. In an emotional sense, they’re the choices she would have made, and has always comfort­ably made, in the past.

    To this point, even in the Dominion, or on the way to it, her choices have been, if stressful, the right choices. She doesn’t under­stand the meaning of what she sees; she has no control in how and when she sees it, and she can’t go back, can’t examine events delib­er­ately, looking at them from different angles. She can’t point her seer-born talent; it’s not a window she can open on her own. But she has strug­gled to under­stand her visions, and she has made the right choices given what she knows. In a story sense, she has utilized the power she has to make the right choices.

    But here, she’s made the wrong one. Because she can make wrong choices. Knowing the future, under­standing events, doesn’t preclude wrong choices, wrong actions. It’s just… all of her talent-driven deci­sions to this point have been correct.

    Jewel’s desire to have a home and to be at home, to remain somehow herself, is the core of Jewel. Her under­standing of what must be done is entirely at odds with who she is. She is — justi­fi­ably — terri­fied of it. Fighting demons and saving people? Fine. Promising Amarais that she would take the House? Yes. Promising that she would save people and take the House at the expense of her den? No. The calculus of her emotional values –

    I write from the core of the char­acter whose view­point I write in. These books are about Jewel, to me. FIRSTBORN is there­fore the under­side of the power that she has. She cannot be a power and save Carver, which was clear in Battle; the desire to do so anyway, the guilt of not being able to do so, causes her to make a deci­sion that will doom them all.

    It’s my need and choice to make explicit the cost of her choices and the price of the deep attach­ments that have brought her this far that is at the heart of FIRSTBORN.

    ***

    @Everyone:

    In general, authors and readers do not discuss reader reac­tions to books. We never comment on reviews. We don’t enter reader-spaces (like goodreads, etc.) because those are reader spaces, and in those spaces, readers should feel free to say what­ever they want without fear of author anger or tears.

    We are all passionate about books. We love books and stories in a way that is, and will always be, internal and personal. There are bound to be visceral responses — some of which will be anger, although not all.

    But it’s hard at times to stay away from your own home, if that makes sense. So I am going to remind you all that this is my home on the internet and one of the few places I do feel I should be reading and responding to things. You are absolutely enti­tled to your reac­tions and your dislikes — I would never, ever say other­wise. Nor would I argue with your opin­ions because, well, I hate olives and nothing is going to convince me that I don’t. Even if you love them.

    I go out to more public spaces once or twice a year, and I read them: goodreads, amazon, etc. But… I know myself well enough to know when things will knock me off my feet and when they will not. When these reviews are in the ether, when they’re not in my virtual living room, I have that choice. I can read, I can take in what’s said, I can assess it. It’s a partic­u­larly intel­lec­tual and distanced state of mind.

    But it’s once or twice a year, and beyond that, I don’t check. I think it’s incred­ibly impor­tant to have spaces in which readers can vent. In which they don’t have to filter. In which they’re talking to other readers, because that’s the point of reviews: it’s meant for other readers.

    While I am a reader, and I find review sites valu­able for books that I will read, I can’t read reviews of my own work as if I’m a reader. So: I stay away because distance is not what I want as a writer.

    But first thing in the morning when I sit down to write and see the noti­fi­ca­tion — because I *also* don’t have google alerts or etc., turned on — it seri­ously knocks me completely off kilter. I have to attempt to pull right out of the writer-state in order to assess, and it can be a struggle to get back into the mental spaces from which story comes.

    Once again: you are enti­tled to your reac­tion, to your responses, to your opin­ions. But… I’m going to ask you to filter or to find ways of expressing disap­point­ment that are, yes, much more tactful. Failing that, I’ll ask you to go to town with the visceral impulse of venting disap­point­ment — but to do it at one of the other public sites that are built and meant for that.

    If that’s what’s coming in from my home on the internet, I will have to ignore it the way I ignore most spaces on the internet – because it impacts my ability to write.

    And … I would like to have a virtual home and a virtual living room on the internet.

    Again: I am NOT arguing with your reac­tions. I am not saying that you shouldn’t have them. But I’m asking you to think of my personal web-site as a living room in which you’re a guest.

  33. DeDe says:

    Michelle — thank you. Truly appre­ciate both your writing and the time you take to keep us in the loop here.

    Have to head out — but just wanted to send a quick note. :)

  34. hanneke28 says:

    Yes, the book shows the conse­quences of some of Jewel’s choices, when they are emotion­ally, instinc­tively true, but prac­ti­cally and strate­gi­cally wrong.
    What it also showed me was the den step­ping up to support her in reaching the end goal she wants, in spite of those wrong choices. Carver made his deci­sion to correct that strategic wrong, both because he is commited to supporting Jewel to reach that desired end and because he wants it himself, and sees what is neces­sary.
    This allowed dreaming Jewel to take the emotional deci­sion that was inherent in her char­acter (to leave the blue leaf with him, and give them a chance), so not breaking her by having to choose to sacri­fice her denmate (again, as doing so with Duster already hurt her deeply), because it became his own choice; while Carver’s deci­sion and Evayne’s inter­ven­tion saved the strate­gi­cally impor­tant leaf.
    But these conse­quences of two instinc­tive emotional deci­sions (including going back to her old appart­ment) taken while dreaming do mean Jewel has to confront her respon­si­bil­i­ties while dreaming: even then, she has to be aware and think through the possible conse­quences of every­thing she does. She needed to learn she cannot blindly follow her emotional instincts, now her powers have grown so much.
    OTOH, Carver taking respon­si­bility for this deci­sion (and Evayne step­ping in to give him time enough to do so) shows she can share a bit of that load with her den without the world falling apart, which might help save her heart, as well as the world.

    And wow, Jarven is way more scary than I’d realised —  I knew he was a shrewd polit­ical and commer­cial oper­a­tive, but this literal and personal dead­ly­ness without many external limits (as Duvari is limited by the safety of the Kings being involved) is more than I’d under­stood before.

  35. alpikinz says:

    Michelle,

    thank you for your response and expla­na­tion.
    And you are right, in the end, you are the write and you write you need to write. As a reader, any reader, ours just follow along the ride and the journey if we enjoy it until the moment of sepa­ra­tion.

    The fact that a reader, such as myself, doesn’t expect the setting of a new board with sudden new impor­tant pieces towards what’s supposed to be a climatic ending, is the reader’s problem, in this case me.

    Anyway, it’s time for me to jump off the train. I wish you well in your writing and future stories. I did enjoy the ride for a while, sun sword series was magnif­i­cent story, as were the first 5 books of the war series.
    And elantra series had been amusing. Love sanna­balis.

    Be well and all the best.

  36. Ha Nguyen says:

    Carver, oh, Carver. At least he escaped Myrridon’s fate. I loved First­born. I imme­di­ately restarted a re-read, which I haven’t done since Sea of Sorrows. For some reason, I didn’t connect to the later books on first reading, but this book, I absolutely loved. I loved seeing Jewel fail because of who she was. I loved the hints about the cats; I loved the time loop. I absolutely loved finding out why Jewel needed the cats to be so ornery and whiny.

    I fear for Finch in the future. Based on my reading of Jarven’s char­acter, he HAS to go after Jewel since she is supe­rior to him and I don’t think that he will be able to tolerate that. Which means he’s going to betray Finch. Poor Finch.

    I wonder if Teller is going to be the price Jewel will have to pay for the neck­lace Snow stole? Teller hasn’t played a big role so far and since Finch is regent, I suspect Teller will be a sacri­fice since Jewel loves him the most of all her den.

  37. Tchula says:

    @Ha I am wondering if Finch will end up becoming the de facto Terafin and not just regent, because I am unsure that Jewel will ever be able to prop­erly fulfill that role now that she has come into her power as Sen. I could see Teller contin­uing on in the role of Right kin for Finch. I do think Finch will have to be prepared to handle Jarven – but I think she has the moti­va­tion to match wits with him. His focus is turned toward the gods, or at least one god, at the moment. Could be very inter­esting…

  38. Tim H. says:

    You messed up in the last book in the Elantra
    series
    Kaylin has used magic before and shifted her body to another plane
    Please quite making her char­acter so weak
    Harvest moon and book 1 was the best.
    The action and drama in those books a reader could really feel
    The last book had very little and her saving everyone as the ending is getting boring
    ThanksThanks, Tim H.

  39. Anna Wick says:

    Terrano accepted. I can lay down the book/kindle for a while now and finely go to sleep. Darn daylight saving. one moment is was 2.20 am now it’s 3.30 am.
    I love Case of Oblivion. What a ride

  40. Paula Lieberman says:

    Jarven didn’t/doesn’t want to be Terafin…one can’t be a power behind the front person if one -is- the front person. He didn’t aspire to head House Terafin previ­ously, why would he now?

    Jewel at the end of was it Sea of Sorrows picked up the three hairs from the Winter Queen and wound them around her wrist. The Queen offered Jewel a place in her Court when the Queen becomes the Summer Queen. It occurred to me then and contin­uing, that if Jewel took a place in the Summer Court, that would mean she would be there and not in the House on the Isle. [But then again, there is the wilder­ness now on the House grounds.…]

    June feels like a LONG way away, for What Happens Next…

  41. Paula Lieberman says:

    Ir also occurred to me, Snow’s offered to make a dress for Finch, which is -very- heavvy magical protec­tion…

    [And Anduvin put himself on the hook to make a replace­ment shield for Illara­phaniel.

    Going back a ways, I’m still wondering about the SPLAT! that the Elders when they were stone, did to a couple Arianni when the Wild Hunt showed up at the Lake turned temporarily into dry land. The Arianni’s bodies stuck around, as opposed to what happens when the “dead” “demons” “die” in human lands.…

    That also reminds me, what happens with the demons when the Elders eat them?? The -Elders- appar­ently got larger.…

  42. Bruce says:

    @alpikinz While I tend to agree, I think we need to take it in the context because we know that First­born is really the middle of the fabled War. We were told that War was being written April and July 2013. However by August 2013 it was ‘trans­formed’ into Oracle. To me First­born suffers the fate of other exam­ples where larger books got split (repub­li­ca­tion Feist’s Magi­cian and paper­back versions of Tad William’s To Green Angel Tower) when you cannot imme­di­ately read the rest (3 months to go!).

  43. alpikinz says:

    @Bruce: bringing context is fair but still not enough to alle­viate the disap­point­ment over the last two books, esp. if being put in context where in skir­mish and battle, the two books before this last (three) books, where in those two books, Cele­riant, Avandar and Illara­phaniel were major char­ac­ters, and suddenly in the last (three) books, two of them are rele­gated into nothing, espe­cially Avandar.

    I get that Jewel is fearful of losing her home, it’s been mentioned in all ways possible in all house wars books up to even first­born, I kept waiting for her to at least move to managing this fear and actu­ally started to be an adult and consol­i­date her power in facing the coming god since this is the final (three) book.

    But I have said my many pieces and issues.

    I do hope the last book delivers what you wish from this series though.

  44. Anna Wick says:

    Someone on Goodreads brought this up, and it made me check the names with the council meet. there are only 9 in The Ten

    Cord­ufar for a moment I thought they were of The Ten, but no he was under Darias. there are only 9 did I miss a house?

    Tarafin
    Kalakar
    Berriliya
    Darias
    Kallan­dras
    Morriset
    Tamalyn
    Korisamis
    Wayelyn

  45. Anna Wick says:

    I agree with alpikinz that some adulting and owning the powers and conse­quences should be first thing in War, we’ll see. June isn’t that far away anymore (6 weeks)
    Is Was the final book?

  46. Tchula says:

    It’s the last book in this House War arc, but the End of Days arc is the next (and final) arc set in this universe.

  47. Tchula says:

    Mostly just from things Michelle has posted here on her site. There’s no offi­cial listing yet on Goodreads/Amazon/etc. as far as I know, since the first book for that arc isn’t written yet. (It was at one point, tenta­tively titled The Black Gauntlet, if you’re curious). But if you read older posts on this site, and scroll through the comments, she makes brief mentions of her plans for this universe.

  48. Florence says:

    I would like so much getting the ebook on iBooks store. But I have only the audio in the store. I am not used to heard your language and find that diffi­cult to not have the ewrite side with it. I hope Cast in Oblivion will be published in iBooks store in France. I love that’s series

Leave a Reply