Chapter By Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
In our last installment Joanna got her battle with Ravill after learning a few interesting details about his origins and the science caste. So now we have a mechbattle in the arctic. Taking a quick look it seems to be done in this chapter. So far the human fights we’ve seen were pretty good considering you have to see them in your head. Hopefully Thurston does as good a job in prose form. Let’s find out.
Well, it wasn’t what I was expecting or hoping for, and not just because Ravill lives. The jerk shows he does have some tactical skill, as apparently he does take some cues from his Wolf clan heritage. His plan isn’t to give Joanna a proper death in the Jade Falcon code of combat. While he tries to act like he’s trying to help by agreeing to a draw, which Joanna sees as against the Jade Falcon’s way and the rules of the challenge, he’s actually leading her into a trap that he can use to further humiliate her. It still seems odd that he is trying to befriend one of his idol’s friends while showing such scummy actions to another given how the Clans operate. He is clever, I have to give him that, but he does seem to lack the Jade Falcon honor system…of course I’m basing that on how Joanna sees things as our focus character.
To that end the chapter actually starts with a view inside her head, as she’s questioning her own insistence and being a warrior and dying a warrior’s death versus her Jade Falcon duties and the rule of the high command that she take over the baby vats. She’s not oblivious to her own issues but it seems honest when she decides that she wants to go out properly because she is Jade Falcon (we get a nice title drop here), making it feel like more of a jerk move when Ravill goes for humiliation. I would feel sorry for her but that would get my head removed out of anger so it’s best that I don’t. The point though is that Thurston does a good job not making her look bad in wanting to go down a warrior’s death while Ravill being a jerk is more my perspective than something Thurston is outright trying to make us think. Maybe he’s being subtle about it, though we see Ravill does have some actual combat skills, even if how he uses it seems out of place with the Clan he’s part of. Overall though it was a good battle and I’m curious to see how things are going to go.
Looking ahead, next time starts another set of multi-chapter reviews as they all seem rather short. How I’ll divide them will depend on the story flow but I’m expecting maybe three chapters next week. We’ll see what happens.