Month: February 2010 Page 2 of 3

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-02-14

  • Blog: Restaurant Review: The Warehouse. #
  • Ouch, bad query day. Received 4 rejections: 12/16. #
  • @MsAllieD And the day's not even over yet! in reply to MsAllieD #
  • @ianthealy Oddly, your discouraging news makes me feel better. Thank you ūüôā in reply to ianthealy #
  • Blog: Chicken fail, sort of: Pan-roasted chicken w/ olives. #
  • An evening of clearing out my inbox. The thrills! Open Office is SHIT for doing hyperlinks. Don't format the whole sentence! NOOO! #
  • Blog: Recipe: Red Thai Curry #
  • @elizawhat I'm doing pretty well today. And you? in reply to elizawhat #
  • Alas, the knife class doesn't not contain any teaching of actual knife sharpening. Just julienning, etc. #
  • Jeez, I feel like the most boring person on the planet today. Maybe it's that everyone else is interesting today. #
  • The truffles are ordered. #
  • Wait. That deserves all caps. THE TRUFFLES ARE ORDERED111!!!111! #
  • Wait. I just cleaned my inbox yesterday. #
  • Chocolate Story plot has been fixed…I mean, improved. Last round of polishing, Chapters 5-8, coming up. #
  • I put the "Cousins" song on the soundtrack for the Chocolate Story. I don't think the cousins in the story would like the song. AT ALL. #
  • Blog: Recipe: Pear, bacon, and goat cheese sandwich. #
  • All it takes is one website to crash the brag sheet. Stupid M$! #
  • All it takes are TWO websites to crash the brag sheet. Freakin' A, M$. #
  • @doycet Your Carrie Fisher link no workee. in reply to doycet #
  • Screw you, M$. #
  • You never really learn how to USE M$ Word, just how to force it to bend to your will. It's like summoning a @#$%^&* demon. #
  • I'm going to start putting that on my resume: Professional M$ Word Demonologist. #
  • @ianthealy Yeah. You should have seen what @#$%^&* Open Office did. THE ENTIRE SENTENCE IS NOT AUTOMATICALLY A LINK, ASSHOLES! in reply to ianthealy #
  • @senseihaynes Is anger against Microsoft an expression of Bill Gates's ego? Joke, joke… in reply to senseihaynes #
  • Blog: Magazine Review: Saveur, Jan/Feb 2010. #
  • Here's to "not growing out of it." Huzzah! #
  • @ChuckWendig Oh, no. I'm so sorry. in reply to ChuckWendig #
  • Want the boots. @ianthealy "Miss, we're the Fashion Police, and those boots are a crime against all that is good and right in the world…" #
  • Blog: Recipe: Chicken Sriracha wrapped in lettuce #
  • Blog: Recipe: Easy Blackberry Napoleon #
  • Lee bought an ungodly amount of chocolate, unless it's Quetzacaotl. I'm tempted to make an altar just to show it off. #

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Book Review: Boneshaker

by Cherie Priest.

Talk about the right book at the right time: ¬†a steampunk adventure with zombies. ¬†There will never be a better time for this book. ¬†Never. ¬†All she had to do was make sure she wrote the book well enough not to shoot herself in the foot. ¬†And it’s Cherie Priest, so you know that isn’t going to happen. ¬†(Or, if you don’t, you’ll turn around and read the Eden Moore series before you go any further.)

Hey. ¬†It’s not Shakespeare (I said, praising her with faint damns). ¬†But it’s solid and it’s good and I would toss this at anybody, whether they read SF/F or not. ¬†It’s even about the mother of a fifteen-year-old boy, and I would give it to the fifteen-year-old boys without feeling embarrassed that they’d think I was a fuddy duddy. ¬†I’d give it to my dad, who doesn’t read that much. ¬†I’d give it to my mom, who generally looks askew at SF.

Quite fun.

Rachael goes to Physics Day at school (pix)

We went to Physics Day at Ray’s school last Wednesday (I’m so lazy, I didn’t get the pictures downloaded until today).

Everyone at the Dirt Cake table. ¬†What dirt cake has to do with physics, I’ll never know.

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What? ¬†You don’t know the recipe?

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Here’s Ray outside the star demonstration balloon, which we saw together last year and Ray saw that morning. ¬†Unfortunately, all the tickets were gone by the time we got there. ¬†Here’s Ray, trying to look cute while she’s disappointed.

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She was less disappointed after she saw the first room.

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I promise that she never cackled…in my hearing.

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Say ah!

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This little girl was probably listening to me giggle.

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Magnets!  And TVs!

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Faster, faster, you fool, you fool!

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Ray’s death-defying trick.

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And no one will stop me…what? ¬†Time to go?

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The experiments were run by Little Shop of Physics up at Colorado State University. There’s going to be a big open house on Feb 27th, and we may go.

Book Review: The Surrogates

by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele.

You know how people play MMORPGs too much?

What if the whole world were like that, people playing their lives via android?

Hm…there’s really only one way to go from there: ¬†somebody decides it’s a bad idea and starts taking that away from other people, because, you know, it’s for their own good. ¬†So there aren’t really any surprises when it comes to the overall plot. ¬†Somebody’s wrecking surrogates, and the main character has to find out who.

However, the devil (or the genius) is in the details, and this is a graphic novel where the detail make the book, turning a lame over-plot into something worth reading. ¬†It doesn’t hurt that the art is so good, either, although it’s not pretty. ¬†This world where everyone is, by design, very attractive, is ugly and dingy and gray. ¬†Okay, okay, hit me over the head, but I liked the art.

The in-jokes from MMOs (“I think I’d know if I were making love to someone who’s really a man” kind of thing) don’t hurt, either.

Book Review: The Circle (Wonder Woman)

by Gail Simone, Terry Dodson, and Bernard Chang.

I’m not sure where in the timeline this belongs.

But I liked it: ¬†The first part is a Greek tragedy, with the characters’ personalities so strong, so fully developed, so inevitable, that the end has its own dignity and grace. ¬†The second part is funnier but less godlike; it’s hard to see that the two parts were even written by the same person (although drawn by two different sets of artists).

A quote from the writer, in the Introduction: ¬†“When you need to stop an asteroid, you get Superman ¬†When you need to solve a mystery, you call in Batman. ¬†But when you need to end a war, you get Wonder Woman.”

Just so.

Pikes Peak Writer’s Conference

From April 23-25.

I don’t know much about writer’s conferences; I’ve only been to this one. ¬†Nevertheless, I get the impression that good things are happening.

One, I’ve worn more off the edges of Am-I-Really-A-Writer panic at this conference (and getting ready for this conference) than anywhere else, except for actually selling stuff. ¬†Shit yeah, I’m a writer. ¬†I can pitch. ¬†I can debate. ¬†I can talk to big-name writers (except Jeffrey Deaver, who was just too damned monopolized by his Biggest Fans to get a word in edgewise, not that they noticed, with their big sparkly, puppy-dog eyes) without wigging out. ¬†I can get up an read my stuff in front of other people; I can have it read out loud. ¬†These things tie my stomach up in knots, but there you go.

Two, I’ve made friends there, from the kind you figure you’ll know for a while to the ones you know will cheer when you get published (rather than seethe with jealousy). ¬†And it feels good when people ask you whether they should bother pitching to an agent that yes, it’s worth it, even if they don’t want to see your book. ¬†(Don’t forget–they will be making money off you. ¬†You have to interview them even more than they interview you. ¬†What’s their track record? ¬†What’s the last big thing they’ve sold? ¬†How well do they negotiate foreign rights? ¬†What do they think about e-books? ¬†Are they giving you good vibes? ¬†How do they handle themselves around other agents? ¬†Are they more polite to other agents than they are to people who look up to them?)

Three, the workshops. ¬†I’ve had so many AHA! moments that I won’t bother to detail them. ¬†(The workshop list is finally up.) ¬†The only addition I want is more talk about the business side of the house. ¬†How to negotiate a contract. ¬†Taxes. ¬†How to figure out whether a project is worth it or not. ¬†How to do freelance writing and not get screwed too often. ¬†You never see too much of that.

Yeah, the food’s comically bad (but okay for general conference food). ¬†Yeah, there will be at least one writer/agent/editor who bursts your idolatric bubble every year (no names). ¬†Yeah, it sucks coming up with a decent pitch. ¬†Yeah, people will argue about self-publishing until the cows come home, and it gets freakin’ old. ¬†Yeah, it’s an embarrassingly large chunk of change to plop down if you don’t have a manuscript ready to pitch or someone to pitch to.

But when I hear people aren’t going, it just makes me sad.

Book Review: An Autumn War

Book 3 of the Long Price Quartet, by Daniel Abraham.

Sometimes it’s good to have faith in people.

Take, for example, the third book in the Long Price Quartet. ¬†This is a fantasy epic (ha ha, try to deny it) with a hero (ditto). ¬†There’s lots of magic (actually, there’s not much magic, page by page, compared to other fantasy epics, but it so distorts the world that you can only say that it’s everwhere). ¬†There’s lots of intrigue. ¬†Even some romance. ¬†Lots of death.

But I’ve read a lot of fantasy epics, so I was interested but not compelled to read the first two thirds of the book.

Ah, but this is book three of the series, and Daniel Abraham has pleasantly surprised (that is, horrified me and turned my stomach) me before, so I kept on.  I try to have faith in people.

Sure enough, by the end of the book, I was wandering around the house with half-spooked eyes, wondering whether I deserved my lot in life, my family, etc., and wondering how it was that the author managed to keep his sanity with ideas like that–with endings like that–running around in his head. ¬†He comes across as so normal and personable.


Review: Freelancer’s Survival Guide

by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: ¬†anybody interested in making money freelancing (not just freelance writing) should read this guide, especially the Money and Negotiation sections.

She’s still updating it, so keep checking back for updates.

Her husband is Dean Wesley Smith, and he has good posts on “Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing,” too.

Between the two of them, they’ve brought up some ideas I’ve had to chew on – the idea that the agent is your employee, not the other way around; the idea that you have to take responsibility for your own negotiations; the difference between making money and cash flow. ¬†The comments are almost as informative as the posts; Laura Resnick, who will probably never have another agent in her life, makes a strong case for same. ¬†The idea that the agent is a taste-monger who serves as a gateway for the editor–but who is generally neither an editor or a professional writer–is something I’ve been struggling with.

As much as I like some of the agents I’ve met and would want them on my side when it came to helping me hustle, some of them strike me as lazy,¬†over-opinionated¬†gas bags. ¬†Sorry. ¬†No names. ¬†The idea that I need to hire an agent who loves my story and who will champion it for me–um, wait. ¬†Why? ¬†Why does an employee have to love what I do in order to negotiate the best deal for me, personally? ¬†Is there some trick going on, where there are agents who don’t? ¬†WHY?

And, throughout my so-far freelancing career, tentatively started in 2006, have I made $0 from on-spec work? ¬†And an amount of money that I’m not ashamed of on work-for-hire? ¬†Is my writing not good enough to be published? ¬†It is good enough; it is published. ¬†And I got paid for it in a professional manner, too, no bull-crap about being a dollar late and a day short.

What is wrong with this system? ¬†Readers are buying stuff to read. ¬†I’m selling stuff for them to read. ¬†But the stuff I’m selling isn’t the stuff publishers are buying. ¬†Publishers are having a meltdown over e-readers. ¬†WHY? ¬†Because it means cutting staff, ¬†redesigning org charts, and finding new ways to make a profit…but isn’t that what they’re doing anyway?

I don’t think self-publishing is the way for me to go; it will leave me spending less time writing, which is what I do best. ¬†But I don’t just want to be somebody’s content producer, either. ¬†I’m finding ways to balance writing and business, but it isn’t in traditional publishing. ¬†And is isn’t in self-publishing, either.

I guess this turned into more of a ramble than a book review–but as you can see, it’s making me really think, which you should take as a very high recommendation.

January Brust: Jhereg

Late, late, later.

I’m working on a project to re-read all of Steven Brust’s Vlad books this year, to try to work out what’s going to happen next, or at least to understand some of the deeper currents I picked up from reading Iorich. ¬†I’m reading them in publication order. ¬†Don’t read these posts if you haven’t read the books.

Jhereg is the book where Vlad has to stop Mellar, a cross-breed, from destroying the Jhereg, Dragon, and Dzur Houses by stealing the Jhereg’s bankroll and hiding out at Castle Black.

The prologue is backstory including how Vlad watched his first Jhereg killing from his father’s restaurant and meets Kiera for the first time (Kiera wasn’t involved in the killing). ¬†How Vlad got Loiosh in the jungles west of Adrilankha (there’s a flash-flash back about how Vlad never knew his mother, but his father would call her a “witch”). ¬†Vlad mentions he was taught sorcery by a Sorceress from the Left Hand of the Jhereg. ¬†How Vlad got into the Jhereg, over a fight at a card table, via Nielar and Kiera. ¬†Loiosh hatching. ¬†Nielar mentions Kragar has no problem working with humans.

Question:  Why does Kragar have no problem working with humans?  Why is he so loyal to Vlad, over the years?

Chapter 1. ¬†Kragar mentions that Vlad’s built up one of the best spy rings in the Jhereg. ¬†The Demon wants to meet Vlad at the Blue Flame (inside Vlad’s territory). ¬†The Demon, true name unknown, under 800 years old. “No one heard of him before the Interregnum.” ¬†Killed 2 of 3 on Jhereg council just afterward. ¬†Kragar mentions taking out Leonyar last year.

C2.  The Demon makes an offer (desc of Demon is undescriptive).  Vlad mentions Mario as the top assassin.  Mellar, one of the council members, has taken 9 million in funds.  The Demon is convinced Mellar is in the East.

C3. ¬†Vlad decides to use Daymar to find Mellar with a psychic link. ¬†Mentions the nineteenth guy he killed was a sorcerer who liked to polish his staff. ¬†Vlad doesn’t know whether he enjoys killing or not.

C4. ¬†Vlad mentions his receptionist has killed three people and has been killed once. ¬†Vlad is currently married to Cawti. ¬†The first time Kiera’s been in Vlad’s office (openly?). ¬†Kiera mentions Vlad fighting an Athyra wizard in his own castle. ¬†Vlad knows Aliera.

C5. ¬†Vlad meets Cawti in the “lab.” ¬†Daymar to watch spell. ¬†Cawti and Loiosh help with spell; Daymar almost takes them down. ¬†Vlad is overwhelmed by images which may or may not be memories, including: ¬†“There is a cry of ‘charge’ and five thousand Dragons come storming at the place the Eastern army is entrenched.” “The Dzur hero, coming alone to Dzur mountain, sees Sethra Lavode stand up before him, Iceflame in her hand.” ¬†“A small girl-child with big brown eyes looks at me and smiles.” ¬†“Aliera stands up before the shadow of Kieron the Conquerer, there in the midst of the Halls of Judgement…”

C6. ¬†Vlad mentions that Cawti didn’t ask him for his help a month ago. ¬†Norathar has retired. ¬†Mellar is at Castle Black. ¬†Empire has existed between two and two and a half hundred thousand years. ¬†House of Lyorn keeps records of other Houses’ records. ¬†Desc of Dragon-Jhereg war, about 10K ago, involving e’Kieron line, which was almost wiped out. ¬†Can’t assassinate in own home (Jhereg rule). ¬†Dragon rule, don’t violate hospitality.

C7. ¬†Castle Black. ¬†Morrolan e’Drien in East, learning witchcraft. ¬†Zerika. ¬†“After that, he was instrumental in driving back the Easterners, and he helped cure the plagues they left behind them as remembrances of their visit.” ¬†Met Morrolan after they almost killed each other, first time they met. ¬†Lady Teldra. Aliera desc: ¬†short, levitate. ¬†Gold hair. ¬†Green eyes, but change colors. ¬†Sethra desc: ¬†“Color her black for sorcery, color her gray for death.” ¬†“Morrolan carried Blackwand, which slew a thousand at the Wall of Barritt’s Tomb. ¬†In a list of great weapons, Vlad doesn’t mention Spellbreaker. ¬†Mellor had given Morrolan a book of Pre-Empire Sorcery.

C8. ¬†“The higher a House is, the more fate tends to favor it.” ¬†Kragar kills an assassin.

C9. ¬†“This was the fourth time I had almost had my tale of years snipped at the buttocks.” ¬†Aliera checks Vlad’s genetic background. ¬†Vlad mentions Spellbreaker. ¬†Mellar is a Dzur-Dragon-Jhereg crossbreed. ¬†Aliera mentions Jenoine, and how they used Dragaerans and Easterners of genetic stock. ¬†Houses formed after Empire formed by Kieron the Conquerer. ¬†Jenoine may have bred in psionic ability into Easterners. ¬†Dragaerans and Easterners can’t interbreed. ¬†Jenoine rarely come to Dragaera; Sethra fought with and destroyed one only a few years ago (possibly during the first time Vlad met her). ¬†Great Sea of Amorphia: ¬†“Boom! ¬†We have a Great Sea of Amorphia, a few new gods, and no more Jenoine.” ¬†Connection between Jenoine experiments and Pre-Empire Sorcery. ¬†Adron is Aliera’s father. ¬†Aliera: ¬†“Pre-Empire sorcery is not exactly direct manipulation of chaos; it’s one step removed. ¬†Direct manipulation is something else again–and that’s what Adron was doing. ¬†He had the ability to use, in fact, the ability to create amorphia. ¬†If you combine that with the skills of pre-Empire sorcery…” ¬†Morrolan can’t create it. ¬†Only e’Kieron line can, although it is said Kieron never used it.

Originally about 30 tribes; many died off; 16 left. ¬†Jhereg formed from outcasts under an ex-Dragon named Dolivar. ¬†Kieron eventually killed by group of Lyorn warriors and Shamans who decided he was responsible for problems brought by Jhereg. ¬†Sethra was there at the formation of the tribes; older than the Empire. ¬†Aliera remembers through regression. ¬†Dolivar had been Kieron’s brother before shaming himself, being tortured and expelled. ¬†Aliera was sister. ¬†“Sethra was supposed to hamstring the yendi, but she missed–deliberatly.” ¬†(A vague reference.) ¬†Aliera was a Shaman. ¬†Vlad is reincarnated Dolivar. ¬†Kieron is still on the paths of the dead.

C10. ¬†Kragar says he was relieved when kicked out of house of Dragon. ¬†Cawti: ¬†“Really, Vlad, what’s the difference?” ¬†Vlad visits Dzur Lord Keleth, who owes him money. ¬†Vlad threatens to ruin Keleth’s reputation; he bends. ¬†To join Dzur, must defeat 17 champions of the House. ¬†Mellor, as Leareth, did; the only one Keleth had heard of since the Interregnum. ¬†Two years, then gave up Dzur and joined Jhereg–made a fool of Dzur. ¬†Kragar doesn’t know how he sneaks into rooms. ¬†“He hadn’t left the House of the Dragon on his own; he’d been expelled.”

C11. ¬†“…a dimly lit hallway in which Lady Teldra is framed, like the Guardian, that figure that stands motionless atop Deathgate Falls…” ¬†Paintings: ¬†one done by the Necromancer showing wounded dragon protecting its young. ¬†One by a nameless Lyorn showing Kieron debating with Shamans, with broadsword. ¬†Picture that fills entire ceiling of dining hall: ¬†depiction of Third Siege of Dzur Mountain by Katana e’M’archala. ¬† ¬†(I suspect Necromancer pic is assigned to her by mistake?) ¬†Vlad exchanges a pleasant smile with the Necromancer. ¬†Cold stare to Sorceress in Green. ¬†Nods uncommittally to Sethra the Younger. ¬†Fentor, a Tsalmoth, is missing. Pathfinder desc: ¬†shorter and heavier than a rapier. ¬†Black. ¬†Glows green. ¬†What are Great Weapons? ¬†Morganti, made by Serioli, can destroy souls. ¬†GW, legend says seventeen, can decide whether to take souls, are joined to soul of bearer.

C12. ¬†Morrolan unrevivifiable, spell blocking, Aliera can’t break. ¬†Aliera heals, then revivifies Fentor. ¬†Use of Spellbreaker. ¬†Vlad uses chaos. ¬†“Something like formless, colorless fire shoot from me…” ¬†“I suddenly felt myself drained of energy, of hate, of everything. ¬†I saw her fall in upon herself and dissolve into a swirling mass of all the colors I could conceive of, and several that I couldn’t.” ¬†Aliera turns chaos into BLUE stone. ¬†Vlad mentions Verra. ¬†Aliera has sorceress’s soul inside Pathfinder. ¬†Vlad tortures sorceress: ¬†“Sometimes I truly loathe the things I do.”

C13. ¬†Vlad mentions Barlen. ¬†Necromancer: ¬†“The strange, perpetual half-smile on her face. ¬†I’ve always liked her. ¬†Some day I hope to understand her. ¬†On the other hand, perhaps I’d better hope not to.” ¬†Two Dragon-Jhereg wars. ¬†Aliera: ¬†“Briefly, the Jhereg who was killed was the friend of the Dragonlord, and he was helping him out on something. ¬†Someone found out what he was doing and put a stop to it. ¬†The Dragons demanded that the assassin be turned over to them, and this time the Jhereg agreed. ¬†…In any case, the assassin escaped from the Dragonlord’s home before he was killed. ¬†…He killed himself later, but by then it was too late to stop anymore. …The Jhereg killed enough of the right Dragonlords, including some wizards, so that a certain one, who’d been planning a coup, found himself forced to move too soon, and to rely too heavily on magic…” (Adron.) ¬†“The assassin had reasons of his own to hate the Emporer and was working with father to find a way to poison the Emporer when things fell apart. ¬†As you know, it was Mario who finally killed the Emporer, when he tried to use the Orb against the Jhereg. ¬†Another Phoenix tried to grab the throne, and father had to move too quickly….”

It sounds like Mario wasn’t the assassin who eventually killed himself. ¬†This really doesn’t jive with 500 Years After. ¬†Unless he’s talking about Greycat, well, maybe. ¬†But Greycat was a Lyorn.

C14. ¬†What would Mario do? ¬†Wouldn’t take a job with time constraints. ¬†What would Cawti and Norathar do? ¬†Spell on Mellar and make sure Morrolan never found out. ¬†Vlad says, “break out the kilinara” – can’t find that anywhere. ¬†Vlad’s father died after one of the plagues. ¬†Vlad would have died of same plague if Grandfather hadn’t cured him. ¬†About Mellor: ¬†“His father killed someone, another Jhereg, just before the Interregnum. ¬†The Jhereg he killed was protected by a Dragonlord; to be exact, Lord Adron. ¬† …Revenge for the way a cross-breed is treated and revenge for the death of his father.”

Who is Mellar’s father?

C16. ¬†Aliera and Cawti friends, through Norathar. ¬†Aliera instrumental in returning Norathar to House of Dragon. ¬†Kiera and Aliera know each other. ¬†Vlad doesn’t call for Sethra, even though she’s been involved throughout.

C17.  Rocza.

Epilogue. Morrolan seems to be able to communicate with Loiosh. ¬† Morrolan jokes about Blackwand being his familiar. ¬†Rocza really isn’t a second familiar. ¬†Vlad and Kragar prevented information from coming out. ¬†He avoids a straight answer of why. ¬†Vlad talks about buying a castle; Cawti’s always wanted one. ¬†“I’m not really sure about this genetic inheritance through the soul. ¬†I mean, sure, I felt something for it, but I also lived through what I lived through, and I guess that shaped me more than you’d think. ¬†I am what I am, in addition to what I was. ¬†Do you understand what I mean?”


Who was the Jhereg who was working with Adron, that was Mellar/Feareth’s father?

Why is the first book about a cross-breed working to take down three Houses?  Would taking down the three Houses have killed the Empire?  Would it at least have made the cycle change from Zerika to Norathar (I seem to remember N quit the Jhereg at the same time she became heir).

Cawti and Vlad seem to be getting on together just fine; I didn’t see any mention of Cawti and justice, ¬†other than the reference to a job a month before Jhereg.

The Jenoine are mentioned several times; the Dragaerans are connected to animals several times.

How much more of Kragar’s story is left to come out? ¬†I may have to deal with that later.

On the one hand – genetics (of the soul?). ¬†On the other hand – life experiences. ¬†Is Vlad predetermined or not? ¬†Is the Cycle something set or not? ¬†The Cycle was created, indirectly, by the Jenoine, who liked to mess around with genetics, souls, and controlling chaos, but failed. ¬†Should the Cycle be destroyed? ¬†The Interregnum wasn’t anything to celebrate, but you see a lot of characters who changed their genetic destiny during that time, and who would not have gained their advantages without it.

More later…

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