Previously on Elantris: We learned so many things and Matt mused about zombie sex. Also, Galladon can access the ancient magic of Elantris, so OF COURSE that was the end of the chapter.
This week, Sarene and Hrathen cross paths. YEEEEEEESSS.
The gyorn strode into the king’s throne room with the arrogance characteristic of his kind. He wore the shining bloodred armor of a Derethi high priest, an extravagant crimson cloak billowing out behind him, though he bore no weapon.
Sarene is as impressed as I am by this clothing, even though she hates gyorns. Honestly, at this point, I might just have a thing for guys in red.
Anyone else remember when Ferrari didn’t ruin everything? No? That’s cool.
Sarene immediately recognizes that the presence of a full gyorn in Arelon is kind of a big deal. There’s only twenty of them in the entire Fjordell Empire, and there aren’t enough Derethi believers in Kae to warrant this kind of attention.
Hrathen tells King Iadon, in front of the entire court, that he’d like him to convert to Shu-Dereth. Shu-Dereth and Shu-Korath are two sects of the same religion, serving the same god, but naturally only one of them can be correct or whatever. Iadon doesn’t respond well to the assertion that Fjorden has the power to force this conversion:
“Really?” Iadon asked. “Where is your vast empire? Where are your armies? How many countries have you conquered in the last century? Maybe someday you people will realize that your empire collapsed three hundred years ago.”
Famous last words, much?
Without reply, Hrathen spins dramatically so that his cloak billows and strides for the door. Just before he leaves, however, he turns for one last “disappointed” look at the throne room. But wouldn’t you know it? His gaze finds Sarene instead of Iadon.
Sorry guys, it’s a bit of a Formula 1 GIF day.
Hrathen and Sarene have smoldering eye contact and then he leaves. Sarene tells Ashe that Iadon doesn’t understand how dangerous the gyorn is, and now she has a new assignment! Screw the boring nobles, she’s going to go head to head with Hrathen. She predicts that Hrathen’s conversation with the king was just a test, and that it’s only a matter of time until he overthrows the throne and lets the Derethi priesthood fill the power vacuum.
Ashe is surprised that Sarene would bother helping Iadon, and I’m like, same. But she’s super biased against Fjordell rule, and I’m also like, same.
King Iadon finally notices that Sarene is in the throne room and tells her that women aren’t allowed in his court unless they’re invited. I bet his noblemen are so BORED. Sarene pulls some master manipulation and says, with a quaver in her voice, that she just wanted to see the paintings. Iadon backs off so as not to make her cry, although he still grumbles something about foolish women. Forget religious extremism — be more predictable, sexism. Although I like that Sarene recognizes his stereotypical sexism and manipulates right past it.
Someone comes out of left field shouting “‘Ene?” and I groan internally because what is that nickname? It turns out it’s Sarene’s long lost uncle, whom she knows as Hunkey Kay (kill me).
He shaved his beard, so that’s why she didn’t recognize him! What hijinks. His real name is Kiin, and I am NEVER calling him Hunkey Kay again. You mark my words.
Kiin guides Sarene out of the throne room so she can meet his wife. They talk about how he sailed from Teod ten years ago; Sarene thought he was going off to settle on some far island, and that’s why he never visited, but presumably he left because of some falling out with Sarene’s dad. He’s been living in Arelon ever since.
We scene jump to Sarene meeting Kiin’s wife, Daora, who is described as “mature” in her beauty. I’m dying. Every single description of Navani in the Stormlight Archive refers to her as a “mature beauty.” It’s just a matter of personal preference, but I really don’t need to be reminded so much when people are old. THANK YOU.
Kiin has some children, which Sarene has trouble reconciling with her own preconceptions of her uncle. We meet a man named Lukel, as well, who is Daora’s son from a previous marriage. Fun fact: Raoden named Lukel as his best friend in the previous chapter. WORLDS COLLIDING.
And I don’t think it’s just me, but honestly, I expected Sarene and Lukel to have a thing, since he’s around her age. Alas, he’s happily married.
The family has dinner together. Lukel’s younger brother, Adien, joins them, and he reminds me of Renarin from the Stormlight Archive. No, I’m not going to stop talking about this every time it happens. MAKE ME!
As a quick aside, I like how Sanderson represents things such as autism and epilepsy in his books, as well as the consistent racial diversity. It makes the world feel more real. This is our introduction to Adien:
Adien was a thin-faced boy in his late teens. He had a pale white complexion and a strange, discomforting cast to his face. He ate awkwardly, his motions stiff and uncontrolled. As he ate, he mumbled to himself — repeating numbers, as far as Sarene could tell. Sarene had met people like him before, children whose minds weren’t completely whole.
I’m actually not 100% sure what is being conveyed here so I’m not going to pretend like I can speak with any authority. However, I really like that we’re so obviously seeing Adien through Sarene’s perspective, rather than just a general third person description. It makes me feel like the author has a lot of control over what he’s doing, which is not always the case…
Adien makes one comment on the amount of steps it takes to get to Svorden (a country near Fjorden), which I’m mentioning here because I think it ends up mattering later. Not the steps, just the random knowledge Adien has.
Sarene is surprised that her uncle doesn’t employ any cooks or servants, and he explains that it’s because the servants were the first to turn on the Elantrians after the Reod:
“Either way, the servants are the ones who did the most damage. First in small groups, then in an incredibly destructive riot, killing any Elantrian they could find. The most powerful Elantrians went first, but the killings spread to the weaker ones as well.
“It didn’t stop with the Elantrians either — the people attacked families, friends, and even those who had been appointed to positions by the Elantrians. Daora and I watched it all, horrified and thankful that there were no Elantrians in the family. Because of that night, we haven’t ever been able to convince ourselves to hire servants.”
Kiin believes the servants attacked both from fear of the vile Elantrian disease and from fear of seeing veritable gods struck down before them. I’m kind of wondering how these servants killed Elantrians at all after all that crap Galladon talked about.
During more dinner chatter, Kiin mentions offhandedly that he’s been stripped of his title, and Sarene, politically versed as she is, knows that there was nothing official in the Teod records declaring such a thing. Like, obviously her dad and uncle had a falling out, though. I look forward to finding out about what…
The chapter ends with Ashe returning from following Hrathen around the city. And next week is another Hrathen chapter, so you know where I be.
And Here’s Matt with the Gay Perspective:
We are just going to skip over Rebecca’s clear Santa fetish (Guys in red? Too easy)…and her aversion to cute nicknames!
I’m a big fan of this chapter, for once, from the tense and foreboding meeting in the throne room to the family meal. (What a juxtaposition!)
I loathe Hrathen, however, and his entrance into the throne room will make me do a rare thing–use a gif.
But that is literally the only thing I could think of the entire time. Run, get out! There’s a genocidal religious reckoning coming your way fools!
Sarene’s meeting with her Uncle Kiin and his family was really heartwarming. Branderson really made it feel like a homecoming for her, with good food and friendly, loving family. The children playfully teasing their put-upon dad and the loving, warm matriarch–it’s a bit cliche, but cliches can be comforting. Plus, the way the living space was described, with knick knacks from Kiin’s travels spread here and there, reminded me of a cozy professor’s home.
I’m so unusually positive this post because I’m writing while sick. Rebecca keeps me chained to my desk to write these no matter what. Apparently you can’t just get out of writing deadlines–someone should gently (violently) remind Rothfuss and GRRM of that.
Join us next week, but don’t forget to leave your thoughts on the chapter below!