Friday, July 20, 2012

Batty About Obsidian Blade - Finale

Welcome back to Batty About Books - where Kathy (@thebrainlair) and I chat about a book we are reading each week. (Gotta love Google Docs!) This week we complete our journey with Obsidian Blade. Time travel paradox and a bit of alternate history timelines is always excellent fodder for deep discussions.


As always - 
* there are SPOILERS ahead.
* My thoughts are in purple with Kathy's responses in blue.
* Kathy's blog - The Brain Lair - hosts her thoughts with my responses.
* Jump in with your thoughts in the comments!

OBSIDIAN BLADE - Final Half

Overall: Well, I’m glad I went back and reread the second half of the book. When I finished the book for the first time I was left feeling a bit bewildered and bereft. I wasn’t sure what, exactly, caused those feelings. My second read left me feeling a bit more sure about what I actually do and don’t know at this stage in the story. I slowed down, too, and I think that helped.

The book definitely reads as the first in a series. I don’t feel a sense of completion at the end. There are so many threads dangling, so many characters I still want to get more information about. It’s a slightly frustrating feeling, because it’s not just a “cliffhanger” feeling. I do believe this book gets on my “will read the sequels” list, though.
Kathy: I’m almost compelled to read the sequel too! I agreed, it wasn’t a cliffhange ending as so much a wait, what feeling.  None of my questions were answered. This just left me with more questions.  

Big themes:
Time travel often brings in the destined vs. freedom of choice debate. The Reverend fights against the medicants - but it is that very group that helped him survive, right? Maybe if he defeats them he’ll never go through a diskos... but then how could he defeat them? The endless cycle.... it makes my head hurt, but it’s so much FUN to dance around in those circles.
Kathy: This is why I like time travel books. Have you read 11/22/63 by King? I’m not a scary/horror fan but was told this one involved time travel so read it! I loved it.  Even though it centers around a guy trying to stop the JFK assassination, it is so much more than that.  He discusses how things change and what effects they have on the present.  Goes well with Hautman’s statement about changing the past causing deep changes in the future, which I ask you to discuss for me! Sounds intriguing! I’ll have to add that to my ever growing list.

“Who wants to live forever?” If you are a Highlander fan, you’ll now have a song stuck in your head. Seriously, though, I think this is another big theme from the book. The discorporeal Klaatu have that boredom - that total ennui that we often see in vampires in stories. What happens with boredom? Our human nature seems to decree that we gravitate toward spectacle. It reminded me a lot of the Roman Empire... right before it fell.
Kathy: Huh! In one of those italicized sections, Iyl Rain talked about succumbing to ennui or depression and deciding to make clones of herself. She was going to have them learn the things she felt she was lacking. In many vampire stories, or even in the movie Groundhog Day, they become experts because they have lived so long. You would think, instead of just trying to better themselves and amass money, they would focus on curing diseases or somesuch.  If I had all the time in the world, I would hope that after the first 100 years, I would put that time to some good use!

“What is ‘normal’?” We have the Medicants who feel that they are just fine the way they are. It’s an interesting take on the progression of autism (though more on the higher functioning Aspergers, I think). Then the Sept with their aversion to numbers... and I’m assuming this leads to the Klaatu. So what is normal? It seems like they interact with one another, even though they don’t agree with one another and even battled one another.
Kathy: Don’t forget the Boggsians. Are they the “normal”? Or is Hautman saying that all these are sides we have to deal with or come about based on the believes that each sect holds dear. What did Awn say about the medicants, something about societal ethics, how they have to do what they were born to and yet they resent that same thing. Kinda reminds me of books I want to read until they are put on some list that I *have* to read so I resent tht list and don’t want to read those same books! (that really makes no sense but I’m leaving it anyway because I like blue and there is an awful lot of it here. blue.)

Questions I still have:
Kosh. Honestly... there must be more to him. So many little clues have been dropped. It seems like he’s being set up to be more important in the next book.
Kathy: He’s got some fears to overcome and he needs to find a way to forgive himself for being too scared to help Tucker and Lah Lia earlier.  So, I agree, there must be something he needs to do in the next book. Will be interesting to see how he fights against his “brother”.

Iyl’s avatars. Here’s another thing that kept getting mentioned but not explained. I’m curious about this. My guess leads me to Emily and Awn... but who is the third? And why is Awn all alone in the Terminus? Is she the sole remaining avatar? Where are the Boggsians?
Kathy: Awn I get, but why Emily? Do you mean the earlier manifestation of Emily or the later? Are they both Emily? Could Lah Lia be one? Yes, these Boggsians, I thought maybe they were human but then, where do they live? It’s seems awfully easy to contact them and, of course, they play for whoever pays them. They are like technology mercenaries. Silicon Valley perhaps?

Henry - Why did the timesweep gobble him up and spit him back out without his need for alcohol? Was it just to give us the information about the Medicants and what they can take? Or will he have a part to play later?
Kathy: I had that question too!! What was the point of that? Also to show us another way the timesweeps can be used? The timesweeps are supposedly after the medicants that helped Tucker. This seemed almost less sinister, especially since what we saw before was the maggot eating the gates.  But it was just so random.

Just how much time has passed between Kosh losing Tucker to the diskos and Tucker’s return? That part is confusing. It seems like a short time, but the changes in the town argue for a much longer gap.
Kathy: And Tucker talks about being taller and scruffier and things are all improved in town and there are tourists.  I couldn’t figure this out either. The girl didn’t recognize him but Will did. Will also was not shocked. Does not compute.

I found myself incredibly uncomfortable at many points in the story. It was the same feeling I had with Golden Compass. It wasn’t a bad discomfort - it was more a struggle to think about some of the history that formed me. I think this kind of discomfort is exactly what we need to foster in students to help them wrestle with their own belief sets... so I thought it was a good thing.
Kathy: I know parents who will argue this point - that middle schoolers are too young to argue for what they believe in just yet because they are easily influenced. I got many calls at school when the movie came out, people wanted to know if this book was in the library. It is, I read it, though it doesn’t get taken out much anymore.  I worried about the amount of religious discussion and thoughts present in the book. But not enough to not have it. I try hard not to self-censor, to think about problems that may not arise. Hmm, I’d better start getting my thoughts in order on this!

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