The Last Graduate
September 30, 2021 5:14 AM - Subscribe

A budding dark sorceress determined not to use her formidable powers uncovers yet more secrets about the workings of her world in the stunning sequel to A Deadly Education, the start of Naomi Novik's groundbreaking crossover series.
posted by Literaryhero (53 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
I must admit I haven't read this yet (diving in right after this comment), but I am so excited and wanted to share.
posted by Literaryhero at 5:15 AM on September 30 [1 favorite]


Picked this up yesterday and hopeful I'll get around to starting it over the weekend.
posted by gaspode at 8:17 AM on October 1 [1 favorite]


Very excited for this series! Thanks for the heads up!
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 10:35 AM on October 1 [1 favorite]


I really need to learn to not read series until they're done.
posted by trig at 1:08 PM on October 1 [6 favorites]


Sadly, annoying cliffhanger. But El is an attractive and complicated main character with a believable arc and the weird world is surprisingly coherent. Orion is even more annoying this volume.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:59 PM on October 1


I was hoping for a surprise duology instead of a trilogy, but that was pretty satisfactory.
posted by clew at 4:47 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]


I was stressed out by the cliffhanger, but also didn’t believe everything would go perfectly with a happy ending, so I am overall fine with it. I finished it this morning and started turning the pages with dread as the final scene was going a little too well.

It feels petty of me to complain about but I felt like a thread was dropped a little bit with the spellbook; like she was carrying it around most of the time but we didn’t hear about it too often, mostly we heard about Precious. I also feel like El calls people, and especially Orion, names way too often, and it felt more like poor editing to me. I appreciated the school itself being more fleshed out as a character in this book.

Overall I love this story and I am eagerly awaiting the high-budget Netflix adaptation that would totally be in production if I were in charge. I would like the third book and maybe a few more right now, please.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 9:14 PM on October 1 [4 favorites]


Overall I love this story and I am eagerly awaiting the high-budget Netflix adaptation that would totally be in production if I were in charge. I would like the third book and maybe a few more right now, please.

Also Temeraire, Spinning Silver and Uprooted on Netflix. And sequels in the Spinning Silver and Uprooted universes please.
posted by Literaryhero at 10:15 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]


I shouted in rage at the cliffhanger, then paged furiously to the very end of the ebook to see if there was a preview for the next one, which there was not. Argh.

Aside from that, I enjoyed it! Sometimes it feels as though El is doing a little too much exposition via internal monologue, but the world is interesting enough that I don't mind it. I loved seeing her deepening friendship with Liu and Aadhya, as well as her really stretching into her magic, and everybody sort of getting used to having a darkish wizard running around throwing hellstorms and whatever at the training exercises. That was a tremendous plan, and all the kids pulled it off masterfully. Many good feels at all the helping each other going on. (Although is it wrong that I'm kind of going to miss the school and its ridiculously over-the-top deadliness? I guess now El and company have to survive the ridiculous deadliness of adult power struggles instead.)

And Netflix adaptation, yes pls.
posted by velvet_n_purrs at 4:58 PM on October 3 [2 favorites]


*spoiler?*

Yeah, I kind of wonder how the adult wizard community is going to handle the school not being there to send the kids for the education if nothing else.
posted by jadepearl at 5:40 PM on October 3


Spoiler-ful!

I was braced for a cliffhanger because I saw reviews saying there would be one, plus my experience with book 1. But I thought this one was less mean than the last--yeah, it's a devastating final scene, but Orion is kind of a dense self-sacrificing dude and he himself said that if he could choose how he dies, it would be while fighting maleficaria. I am hoping he does take out Patience though so that El's father can stop eternally screaming. Weird echo of how El's father died, actually. Does this mean El is pregnant? (I hope not! She's so young still.) And then if Orion does somehow survive and pop up in Book 3 (though I'm not sure how because El broke the school away from existence with a supervolcano) it'll be a pleasant surprise, I suppose. It's definitely more interesting if El has to deal with the fallout of being the last one to see the future New York dominaria's son alive.

I agree that El goes off on too many tangents, sometimes multiple layers deep, in a way that can make me lose track of what was just happening in the scene. Sometimes it's mid-conversation! But I still enjoyed reading. I had the great luxury of being able to spend a couple days doing nothing but reading this until I was done, and it reminded me of when I'd get a new Harry Potter book and try to read it as fast as possible. But without the taint of the author being a TERF and all, and worldbuilding that goes deeper than HP with a real magical economy. I think Novik also took the criticisms to heart from book 1, though I'm a white person in the US so it's possible I'm just oblivious to anything problematic in this round.

Some other standouts:
- The scene where they all help heal Cora's arm, echoing future scenes where people actually start helping each other
- El's gaggle of freshmen
- The Machiavellian valedictorian Liesel and her operational skills
- Getting to see what super-talented artificers and alchemy-track kids can do
- I had been wondering how they dealt with periods in there! I'm both glad to have an answer and jealous of their menstruation-stopping tea
posted by j.r at 6:57 PM on October 3 [7 favorites]


I *LOVED* the ending! Am I the only one who likes a good cliffhanger?
posted by kyrademon at 4:57 AM on October 4


I mean, it was an epic cliffhanger, totally supported by what came before while still striking so suddenly, and I think it was excellently well done, but the cutoff was *so* sharp I was in shock and denial for a day or so. Now that I'm done frothing over it, though, I can't think of a better way for the book to end.
posted by velvet_n_purrs at 9:55 AM on October 4


Really enjoyed this. Especially the realization that the school itself didn't want to be a horrible death trap, it just couldn't help it. I felt quite sad for it by the end.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:32 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


Having said that - WTF is wrong with Orion. Just fucking leave, you stupid doofus. You can't die a hero if you've already saved everyone and there's no need to go down swinging.

I know that Novik will make this good in the end, but frankly I wished El had kicked him in the balls a few more times for that.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:36 PM on October 4 [2 favorites]


Some comments over here* think that Orion's problem is basically that he's addicted (physically? mentally?) to fighting mals or to the mana he gets from them, which tracks with what's in the book and which would mean he's been in withdrawal for the entire year.

I'm seeing a lot of reactions to the book that are like mine: kind of slow and too expository for the first 60% or so, then started to pick up, then really, really started to pick up, then what the hell what's that cliffhanger doing in the second half of that sentence, you're supposed to give me a full sentence at least, then a weird feeling of emptiness, then after a day or two a strong desire to read the book again.

I like how extremely topical the moral dilemmas are - everyone for themselves vs. in-groups for themselves vs. everyone together - and how the book makes it clear that applies not just to the school but to the outside world, and how it constantly works through the game theory calculations. I loved the moment where the enclave kid was like "you do realize we're not doing this, right?" The Chekhov's karma bit was a little predictable but still.

I'm kind of curious whether Novik will puncture the cliffhanger in the next book as quickly as she did in this one ("Eh, my mother wrote a warning, but that's not useful information").

* Jennifer Crusie's blog - it turns out she's a huge Murderbot/Scholomance/Rivers of London addict/nerd, which I think is pretty hilarious
posted by trig at 11:16 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


On reflection I'm probably a weird reader in that this didn't feel like that much of a cliffhanger at all. It could be because I'm less invested in Orion and his potential future with El. She's going to go off and take on the injustice of the enclave system no matter what, with or without him. So she'll be assuming he never makes it out of the school, and if he pops up later? Okay, she'll deal with it when it happens. Book two of a trilogy always ends with some weird détente with dangling questions left for the final one anyway; the only difference with this one is that the action ended very abruptly.

I'm actually more miffed that we didn't get to see El's reunion with her mom yet, but a cathartic and mixed-feelings-y scene like that will be a good opener for the next one, so I'm not super mad at it.
posted by j.r at 10:15 AM on October 5 [3 favorites]


I dunno. After this book, I don't know if Orion and El have a future. El does, if she can keep her newfound perspective, but I agree that Orion is an addict and one that, because of the world he lives in, has really no future beyond death. El deserves better, and this book doesn't give us any reason to think Orion can provide that.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:19 PM on October 5 [1 favorite]


I really enjoyed the book and trust the author to bring a good third (soon, please).

While I did like the Temeraire books a lot, I found the characters a little stilted (due to English stuffiness). This series is a much freer narrative style.
posted by Marticus at 4:28 PM on October 5 [1 favorite]


Just devoured both books this weekend and I loved them so much! I've been a fan of Naomi's fanfic for years, especially her recent Witcher and Transformers stories that deliver on the theme of competence porn in service of imagining a more just world. And this series has so much of that theme baked into it!

Next one comes out in 2022, it looks like, so not too long to wait.
posted by merriment at 10:07 AM on October 10


I was honestly surprised at the ending. Mostly that El hadn't put a yanker on Orion to grab him at the end. Surely she hadn't forgotten how hard it was to get his attention when they were fixing the machinery. I thought she would have known he might even get too distracted to leave, even if she hadn't thought that he would choose to stay for any reason.
If anyone can stay alive for the next year in that deathtrap, it's Orion. El left the last bit of her spell undone, because something would make the next bit happen somehow when she's gone. I'm curious if the school will prevent it from happening now that it still has a student to keep alive or if it has any idea that keeping all the kids of the world alive is more important. (Even if Orion survives, would the graduation gates open if it let a lot of mals out then?) I'm honestly a little annoyed that these are the questions I'm left with because what I really want to know is what Orion is at all-- is he a child formed in weird circumstances like El? (A child from the maleficers from the class before Gwen's, before they got tracked down, maybe? A child born in a group of maleficers would be quite a reaction to that to balance everything.) Is he something other than human? His talents with mals and troubles with mana don't seem like anything anyone else can do at all.
And more importantly, I'd love to see if El's mum will seem any different now that she's an adult and been away for four years. Will she be as saintlike or was some part of that trying to be a good example for a child who couldn't be allowed to justify any bad behaviour? Is any amount of this just trauma and survivor's guilt?
What will these young wizards be like that learned to cooperate, when confronting the generations before them who were selfish to survive. What will the next generation be like, without personal trauma? (And how much trauma will simply be baked into raising them, because the parents don't know how to do anything else?)
I'm excited for the next book, building enclaves for all and all the difficulties that will surely entail.
posted by blueberry monster at 6:10 PM on October 15 [3 favorites]


I was not at all surprised that Orion didn't make it out - I was surprised that he stayed deliberately, but it makes perfect sense based on everything we saw before. In particular I thought back to the post-coital scene where El reflects that, really, it's not a great idea to plan a life with someone who says you're the one and only meaningful thing in their universe. Orion is not OK.

I had actually been imagining for the back half of the book that "stay far away from Orion Lake" was literal, that El would have to decide whether to go through the gates or make a doomed attempt to go back and save him. Since it doesn't seem to have meant that, I am wildly curious about what it does mean. I can't believe that it's just "don't fall in doomed love," mostly because her mom wouldn't have had any way of knowing about that possibility but also because her mom, as far as I remember, can't predict the future. So what does El's mom know about Orion? Presumably it's something she didn't know before El went in, because she would have told El then.

Agree that it was weird that the sutras kind of vanished from the narrative - I was expecting the end of El's translation to provide some key part of the ultimate plan. It's still not fully translated, is it? Which means something at the end of it is probably going to matter a whole lot in book 3.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:16 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]


It's still not fully translated, is it? Which means something at the end of it is probably going to matter a whole lot in book 3.

El didn't spend the time to fully translate it because it wouldn't help her get out; and then because it wasn't useful in getting everyone out. She dreams enough about setting up Golden Stone enclaves that she works on it anyway - way too much, displacing other essential work - that's why she gets the award in Sanskrit.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:21 PM on October 18 [2 favorites]


Oh I know, but leaving the end untranslated and pointing that fact out seems like a very writerly move to me. Chekov’s spells.

I felt compelled to go back and read the first book after finishing this one, and I just got to a section that might be relevant to Orion. There was a senior who poached a room by shoving its previous owner into the void, and El goes into detail about what happens to people who go in there a ways and come back: they can’t talk comprehensibly anymore, they can still do magic but not in a way anyone else understands, their spells and artifacts and potions won’t work for anyone else. “Like they’ve been shifted sideways somehow.” Well, Orion just got himself sealed into the void. If he comes out again, it sure sounds like he won’t be the same.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:44 PM on October 18 [1 favorite]


I liked this so much. What can I read that is like this? Assume I’ve read everything else she’s written and most prominent SFF books from the past 50 years. I know, that’s a hard ask.
posted by bq at 8:59 PM on October 18


Parts of The Iron Dragon’s Daughter really remind me of these books.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:08 PM on October 18


bq -- *definitely* try "In Other Lands" by Sarah Rees Brennan if you haven't already.

Maybe the Simon Snow trilogy by Rainbow Rowell? It isn't exactly like this, but there are some similarities, especially in the first book.

Hmm ... the Prisoners of Peace duology by Erin Bow is SF rather than F and quite different, but I think there are some resonances, if that makes sense.


That's sticking to YA. I could try to think of some non-YA titles, too, if you like.
posted by kyrademon at 2:50 AM on October 19 [1 favorite]


what I really want to know is what Orion is at all-- is he a child formed in weird circumstances like El? (A child from the maleficers from the class before Gwen's, before they got tracked down, maybe? A child born in a group of maleficers would be quite a reaction to that to balance everything.) Is he something other than human? His talents with mals and troubles with mana don't seem like anything anyone else can do at all.

Both books make a few mentions of his silver hair, which isn't a normal thing (is it?). And it should be noted that for all El goes on about her incredibly stupid name... she's not the only one!

I wonder if in the next book she's going to meet the Dominus of Shanghai (talk about a term that illustrates the oppression in the system...)

Orion is even more annoying this volume.

I've been thinking about how El is a pretty unreliable narrator, in that she gets so caught up in her own internal narratives and interpretations, which aren't always accurate. She's totally convinced in the first book that she understands herself, and convincingly talks about how she's just waiting for her chance to show off, but she's wrong. She's totally convinced over both books that the school is out to get her and the other kids. She repeatedly turns out to only partially understand the lives of people she had very strong opinions about, and in general she seems to paint people in very absolutist terms. She might amend her narrative suddenly in response to some development, but she tends to embraces any narrative wholeheartedly in the moment without a lot of "this is just a working theory, I could be wrong," or "I have multiple contradictory theories going at once and am constantly questioning them". She turns out to have been fundamentally misunderstanding a few things about Orion and what he's been experiencing all along, and also her internal narrative that he's annoying might be partly an attempt at self-preservation. I'm curious what his internal narrative would look like, and can't decide if it's a sign of shallow characterization or not that I have no idea what his own voice would sound like, or how he would see his own experiences in the school.
posted by trig at 4:25 AM on October 19 [6 favorites]


(one thing I wonder about wrt the school: even in the first book it's mentioned a few times that the school doesn't mind if students cheat - on the contrary, they're more likely to get a good grade that way. That doesn't seem to square well with the mission of protecting children (since their education generally has a lot of practical/survival value) but I wonder if the point is to encourage the interactions and cooperation that cheating requires. And now I'm wondering for how long the school might have been thinking that way, whether it could have done a better job, and how much of El's experience was designed from the very start to get her to where she ultimately got.)
posted by trig at 5:11 AM on October 19 [2 favorites]


Remember when the mawmouth gets into the school in book 1, and El is first totally convinced that the school is trying to keep her away from saving the day where the other monsters are, and then trying to tempt her with that same potential victory after the mawmouth shows up and heads in the other direction. She thinks it’s a sort of test, and maybe it is, but it’s not testing what she thinks it’s testing. Because the ultimate result is, she’s given an easy out and won’t take it because innocent people will die if she does. Maybe that’s when the school decided she could be its champion.
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:33 AM on October 19 [1 favorite]


Yeah, her whole analysis of that situation seemed off to me. If the school did want to keep her away from the maw-mouth, it could have just let her keep up with Orion in the first place and fight all the less important mals. (Also if she was so sure the school didn't want her to fight the maw-mouth, she could have concluded that it was trying to keep her safe, and that it was being nice and generous giving her that book when it could have kept her safe any number of other ways. But that wouldn't have fit in with her perception of the school.)

How deep of a game has the school been playing? Does it intend for her to go out and build enclaves to further protect kids even outside the school?
posted by trig at 6:01 AM on October 19 [1 favorite]


(Was it her repeated refusals to join the enclavers, on top of her power, that made the school pick her?)
posted by trig at 6:06 AM on October 19 [1 favorite]


I think it’s worth remembering that El, as well as having her own “destiny” and reputation to deal with, is part of a group of badly traumatized children who have mostly been told their entire lives that looking out for themselves is the only mission, and El has to come a pretty long way to her plan to save everyone. Heck, I think at the end of Book 2, she’s half convinced that she (and maybe Orion) won’t get out, but she’s ok with that if everyone else does.

And I wonder if some of that is that she can’t imagine living in the actual world, where the end result of “looking out for #1” in her case will mean becoming the witch-queen everyone thinks she should. And she has a taste of a new way, and I wonder how the students who massively cooperated are going to deal with their dog-eat-dog society?

Maybe El’s destiny is really finding a new path that makes the Enclaves redundant, and upends magical society so badly that the people currently on top see her as an existential threat?
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:26 AM on October 19 [3 favorites]


Thank you for the recommendations! I am open to reading any genre and non-YA books as well.
posted by bq at 9:48 AM on October 19


For me, the Scholomance books are a specific type of fantasy that explore exactly how magic works and the ramifications of that. Other books in that category are Carry On and sequels by Rainbow Rowell and The Thirteenth Child* and sequels by Patricia Wrede. Other books that might hit some of the other feelings are The Rook by Daniel O'Malley or Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire, which are both characters in dangerous situations and some mystery around what's going on.

*Does require coming up with a headcanon for where the native Americans are, can't unambiguously recommend.

Oh, and if anyone else has books that really get in to how magic works, I'd love more recommendations there, even if overall the books are okay instead of great. I just love this subgenre.
posted by blueberry monster at 11:46 AM on October 19


Thinking back to the library scene, I do think it's significant that the school gives her a book that will make enclaves less important and children and adults safer everywhere, even as it's giving it to keep her near the mal that only she can fight. (It mentioned that while Orion could maybe fight it, the mawmouth was smart enough to not go near him.) I think the school really was trying to make students safer in as many broad ways as possible. The mals were more immediate, but the cooperation and longer-term plans were important to the school too.
posted by blueberry monster at 11:54 AM on October 19 [2 favorites]


Maybe El’s destiny is really finding a new path that makes the Enclaves redundant, and upends magical society so badly that the people currently on top see her as an existential threat?

One interesting question there is that El/Novik takes pains to tell about how her great-grandmother, the person who made the prophecy, was famous not simply for predicting things, but for being able to know what would actually lead to the best result in the end - how things would ultimately pan out.

If her great-grandmother was so disturbed by what she saw, that seems to imply that what she saw was legitimately bad. Is that because she only saw part of the picture, and not the part where it ultimately leads to something good (which seems like it would go against her aforementioned talent)? Or was it because the fall of the enclaves would in fact truly be bad for her or the people she cared about (but the Sharmas aren't enclavers, and their skills seem like they'd be in high demand regardless)? Or because it truly would be bad all around, without ultimately being worthwhile?
posted by trig at 12:30 PM on October 19 [2 favorites]


Oh, and if anyone else has books that really get in to how magic works, I'd love more recommendations there

You might or might not find Gunnerkrigg Court satisfying (there's a lot of exploration and attempts to understand how the magic works, but so far at least it's stayed fundamentally unknowable). Also it's a webcomic.
posted by trig at 12:40 PM on October 19 [1 favorite]


Or was it because the fall of the enclaves would in fact truly be bad for her or the people she cared about

That’s my take. The metaphor in these books is that mana = money, and El seems like she’s currently on track to implement radical communism. Of course the haves don’t want to give up anything in support of the have-nots - they are described as getting an enormous amount of labor, including high-mortality labor that keeps enclavers safer, from people desperate to get the enclave spells. Spells which the enclavers could easily give out for free if they cared to.
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:04 PM on October 19 [2 favorites]


Of course, there’s also a question that I haven’t seen raised yet, and which Novik may or may not plan on addressing: what would happen to the rest of the world if magic users suddenly didn’t have a 75-95% child mortality rate?
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:07 PM on October 19 [2 favorites]


If her great-grandmother was so disturbed by what she saw, that seems to imply that what she saw was legitimately bad. Is that because she only saw part of the picture, and not the part where it ultimately leads to something good (which seems like it would go against her aforementioned talent)? Or was it because the fall of the enclaves would in fact truly be bad for her or the people she cared about (but the Sharmas aren't enclavers, and their skills seem like they'd be in high demand regardless)? Or because it truly would be bad all around, without ultimately being worthwhile?
Or, she saw this path, decided it was good, but knew that the only way to get here was for El to be raised as she was. An El that was raised with a well-off family and social connections would not have been the same El. That El might have taken the easy path of malefice at school. She might have become the monster her family fears.

Casting her out may well have been the right choice for everyone.
posted by Tabitha Someday at 3:18 PM on October 19 [5 favorites]


Ooo, I like that interpretation too! Best case scenario then is that El becomes another Orion, and if that happens it’s not likely they would have managed the feat of community organizing in book 2.
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:20 PM on October 19


The metaphor in these books is that mana = money, and El seems like she’s currently on track to implement radical communism.

A bit like Max Gladstone’s Craft books, then.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:00 PM on October 19


> "Thank you for the recommendations! I am open to reading any genre and non-YA books as well."

Well, let's see ... for the general vibe of "cranky protagonist(s) pursuing causes of social justice while some seriously horrifying stuff goes down", I might also recommend:

The Outside by Ada Hoffman
The Elemental Logic tetrology by Laurie J. Marks

although they don't have the level of humorous snark as the YA books I mentioned above.

To get that as well, I might recommend Ursula Vernon/T. Kingfisher -- maybe one of her adult titles like The Twisted Ones, although I might suggest A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking as a YA title of hers that also fits the bill.
posted by kyrademon at 6:14 AM on October 20 [2 favorites]


Ahaha. I’m rereading now and just got to this part in chapter 3:

“If you can lure them places, why wouldn’t you do it all the time?” I said. “Just stick one of these honeypots in a trap, and no more mals around ever.”

“You’ve still got to DO something with them!” Chloe said. “What kind of trap is going to hold a thousand giant mals?”


I mean, well played
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:38 PM on October 22 [3 favorites]


Hey so uh. Hopefully that automatic process that sucks in freshmen won’t happen approximately six hours after the end of this book. Because I don’t remember them discussing that. I mean I guess in theory, cutting off the gate should detach it from reality enough to prevent that… but then, the freshmen don’t come in through the gates.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:03 PM on October 23


I know, right? It should have been okay if the school was going to explode, but if it doesn't... Hopefully it's got enough autonomy to be able to decide to not induct students on its own.
posted by trig at 5:49 AM on October 24 [1 favorite]


My interpretation was that, once the Scholomance is broken off into the Void, there won’t be a way to reach it, so the Induction spells won’t have a target and so will fizzle.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:04 PM on October 24


I know, right? It should have been okay if the school was going to explode, but if it doesn't... Hopefully it's got enough autonomy to be able to decide to not induct students on its own.

Fuck, I forgot about the school exploding. The supervolcano spell was past the point of no return when Elle gets pushed through the door, so Orion should rightfully be toast (and is even dumber than I initially thought, because his plan was kill to the unkillable mawmouth or die trying, and then die like a chump anyway).
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:08 PM on October 24 [2 favorites]


what would happen to the rest of the world if magic users suddenly didn’t have a 75-95% child mortality rate?

Yes. I really appreciated the ecological approach as a fix-it fic. But ecological problems hardly ever have solutions that fit our current YAish heroism narratives. Do we get a couple novels of wizard overshoot and a protagonist who arrives to fix *that*?

The other wand-on-the-mantelpiece is the principle of Balance. If El's massive maleficient talent was caused to Balance her parent's goodness, and now El is reducing the amount of chain-of-causality mala profit that enclave students get, how maleficient is *her* kid going to be?

... Maybe that's the kid who undoes the wizard overshoot.
posted by clew at 12:04 PM on November 1 [1 favorite]


If El's massive maleficient talent was caused to Balance her parent's goodness

I've been wondering if that isn't a case of unreliable narrator. El is really just guessing about why she is the way she is... and heck, maybe mom has some awful dark secret of her own!
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:16 PM on November 1 [3 favorites]


and heck, maybe mom has some awful dark secret of her own!

She radiates good because she keeps all her evil inside, waiting.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:15 AM on November 3 [2 favorites]


If El's massive maleficient talent was caused to Balance her parent's goodness

> I've been wondering if that isn't a case of unreliable narrator.


Yeah, there are things where the balance principle makes sense, and the mechanism is explained: for example, if too many students are saved, then it makes sense that the mals will get hungrier and the school will struggle to keep them out. But things like someone's nature balancing out their parents' doesn't have any clear mechanism that's been explained (and also has lots of gaps, like by that logic talent and affinities should skip generations too). And where's the socioeconomic balance? An enclaver who's benefited from orders of magnitude more magic than other people all their lives should find themselves victims of random misfiring spells, or low-magic periods, or other life-shorteners.

Also, a bunch of other things that were brought up as examples of balance turn out to probably have been things the school was doing to try to train its charges as best as it could, including pushing El in various directions.

Anyway, El's mother's real dark affinity is clearly for psychological manipulation.
posted by trig at 7:13 PM on November 3 [2 favorites]


« Older Agatha Christie's Poirot: The ...   |  Supernatural: Plucky Pennywhis... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments