Banner by Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

I’m participating in a four week read-along of Emma Newman’s BETWEEN TWO THORNS, the first book in The Split World series. Hosted by Lisa from Over the Effing Rainbow and organized via the SF/F Read Alongs group on Goodreads.

Something is wrong in Aquae Sulis, Bath’s secret mirror city.

The new season is starting and the Master of Ceremonies is missing. Max, an Arbiter of the Split Worlds Treaty, is assigned with the task of finding him with no one to help but a dislocated soul and a mad sorcerer. View Spoiler »

It’s not too late to join in! Here’s the complete schedule for the read-along:

Part 1 – Monday 9th May: Chapters 1-9, hosted by Over The Effing Rainbow
Part 2 – Monday 16th May: Chapters 10-18, hosted by On Starships and Dragonwings
Part 3 – Monday 23rd May: Chapters 19-25, hosted by x + 1
Part 4 – Monday 30th May: Chapters 26-End, hosted by Lynn’s Books

On to the questions. Beware: spoilers for chapters 19-25.

1. Sam is our fish out of water – any sympathy for his predicament?

I’m not gonna lie, that spat with his wife Leanne made him look like a total idiot – and a jerk. I was a bit worried that he’d turn out to be an unsympathetic character after all, but at this point I think it’s safe to say that the poor guy is in WAY over his head. Lured into the Nether, sent into Exilium with a strange girl, accosted by faeries, and then an encounter with Lord Poppy? Yikes.

Fairy tales have taught me that you should never, ever trade a memory for a spell…even if it’s an insignificant one. You can bet that Sam’s missing memory is going to be crucial later on, otherwise Lord Poppy wouldn’t have been so damn pleased with himself.

2. Horatio Gallica-Rosa is claiming property to try to weasel his way into Aquae Sulis; and the Alba-Rosas are trying to weasel their way into Will’s good graces to stop him. Given what we know about Lady Rose, do we believe in the inter-Rosa feud, or is this all part of a plan? (if so, what do you think it is?)

I’m clearly not devious enough for this book, because I hadn’t even considered that the Rosa feud might be contrived! But of course Lady Rose could have planned some horrible double-cross where the Alba-Rosas aren’t merely working in their own self-interest, but are working with Horatio to achieve some greater goal. Lady Rose appears to be behind the massacre at the Bath Chapter and might have had the Master of Ceremonies killed – what’s her end game?

After thinking about it though, I still say that Horatio is trying to weasel his way in on his own and Amelia and Cornelius Alba-Rosa have their own agenda. Those two are up to way more than just social climbing. There’s got to be more to the story of how they got the Princess Rani to come to Aquae Sulis with them, given all the references we’ve had to her!

3. We get to see a lot more of Will this week. What do you make of him now we’ve got to know him better? Do you think Cathy should give him a chance?

Will redeemed himself in my eyes when he reacted so strongly to Cathy’s bruises. He quickly jumped to her defense and even asked his father to move the engagement along, which is huge considering how little Will actually wants to marry her. But then he turned right around and thought to himself “Gee, I wish I’d used that creepy little purity opal to prove that Cathy’s ~impure~ so I could get with Amelia. Life’s so unfair!” After that I was right back to where I started with him. Cautiously optimistic but not hopeful.

We know that Will is pretty shallow, but I haven’t been given the impression that he is easily led astray from his family duties. With that in mind, I’m guessing that Amelia is working some sort of Charm on Will (and not just her “charms”) to get him to be her puppet so she and her brother can triumph over Horatio Gallica-Rosa. Amelia and Cornelius are definitely suspicious characters!

4. No sooner has Cathy survived Society – after a fashion – than she’s back in deep water with the Sorcerer and sent to Exilium. How well do you think she handled Lord Poppy?

Cathy’s finally learned that the less she says around the Fae lord, the better. She’s also embracing the “barrel straight on through” mentality where she doesn’t waste her time by trying to interject. Constantly trying to say “but-” in between Lord Poppy’s decrees is not gonna help and now she knows it. I think we also some of her old Society manners and social skills on display, as she easily and flawlessly complimented and flattered Lord P.

Maybe Cathy’s not as bad at Society maneuverings as she thinks she is!

Additional thoughts:

At 75% I thought I’d have a clearer idea where BETWEEN TWO THORNS is going, but I’m still guessing. And I’m really liking that! Admittedly I tend to go for slower-paced novels so the lack of forward movement doesn’t bother me, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend this book for readers who like their books action-packed.

What did you think of Part 3 of the book? Do you think you know where the story is headed? What’s Lady Rose up to?