We Hunt the Flame on a white blanket

32. We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

Hello, magical ppl! In this episode we dive into We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal, which J & K both enjoyed immenselyJoin us for a conversation about how much we <3 enemies-to-lovers ships, badass protags like Zafira and Kifah, Faizal’s impressive world-building, and much more.

Content Warning for discussions of child abuse. ChildHelp  – Call 1-800-422-4453 for assistance

And now, links!

  • The sequel, We Free the Stars, is scheduled for release on January 19, 2021.
  • If you have some time, professor Edward Said teaches about Orientalism in this interview (appx. 40 minutes). If you are short on time, this video is a good primer about Orientalism and Said’s work on the concept.
  • In the episode, we wax poetic about the character art: “Meet the Zumra” yourselves!  And while you’re at it, we highly recommend exploring Arawiya with the interactive map.
  • Glossary and Pronunciation guide for We Hunt the Flame 
  • We mention Sarah J. Maas’s new book, House of Earth and Blood. the first novel in the Crescent City series. Both of us have read it…and weren’t too enamored. Have you read it? Should we do an episode about it? Let us know 🙂
  • K swears by her SAD Lamp.
  • J recommends this clip of Hassan Minhaj explaining the stories of ifrit and djinn he heard as a child (starts at 13:02).
  • J mentions The Great, the Hulu show released in May 2020.
  • This twitter thread explains why pre orders are so important in publishing.
  • Here is the Goodreads Q & A in which Faizal clarifies that there is no “Muslim representation in the book. Rather, it is inspired by Ancient Arabia. Arab does not equal Muslim.
  • Shoutout to Jen, our first patron!!!!! You are a magical being and we love you!

Action Item: WEAR A MASK, and learn how to do so properly.

Transcript below (or access the pdf version)

As always, we’d love to be in discussion with you, magical folx. Post or tweet about the show using #criticallyreading. Let us know what you think of the episode, anything we missed, or anything else you want us to know by dropping a line in the comments or reaching out to us on twitter or Instagram (@thelibrarycoven), or via email (thelibraycoven@gmail.com). You can also check out the show notes on our website, thelibrarycoven.com.

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The podcast theme song is “Unermerry Academy of Magics” by Augustin C from the album “Fantasy Music”, which you can download on FreeMusicArchive.com.

JK, it’s magic is recorded and produced on stolen indigenous land: Arapahoe, Cheyenne, and Ute (Kelly) and Chickasha, Kaskaskia, Kickapoo, Mascoutin, Miami, Mesquaki, Odawa, Ojibwe, Peankashaw, Peoria, Potawatomi, Sauk, and Wea (Jessie)

You can support Indigenous communities by donating to Mitakuye FoundationNative Women’s Wilderness, or the Navajo Water Project. These suggested places came from @lilnativeboy

“JK, it’s Magic” Episode 32: We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

transition [00:00:14] [bright, whimsical music plays. string instruments and lute].

kelly [00:00:14] Hello! And welcome to “JK, it’s magic”, A bi-weekly… kind of [laughs] podcast in which to bookish besties discuss mostly Y.A. fantasy through the lens of intersectional feminist criticism. Why? Because critique is our fangirl love language and because talking about books is pretty magical.

jessie [00:00:33] I’m Jessie.

kelly [00:00:35] And I’m Kelly.

jessie [00:00:37] And this week, we will be talking about WE HUNT THE FLAME by Hafsah Faizal, all in this story, Zafira is pretending to be a man in order to hunt in the Arz for her starving community, a community that is not very welcoming to women because of something that happened long before Zafira was born. When Zafira is offered the chance to bring magic back to Arawiya, she jumps at the opportunity and meets some pretty interesting people along the way.

transition [00:01:08] [jaunty, stacatto string music plays].

jessie [00:01:08] Initial reactions.

kelly [00:01:10] What did you think?!

jessie [00:01:11] Um This book started out a little slow for me, but I absolutely loved it and now I am impatiently waiting for the second book, WE FREE THE STARS, to come out in January [2021]. The release date was originally supposed to be in July [2020], but it got pushed back due to the pandemic, which is currently happening because we are recording this in May [2020]. I loved all the characters except for Deen, and I am such a sucker for enemies to love her stories. So, you know, I loved Zafira and Nasir. What about you?

kelly [00:01:41] I agree with you. It took me a little longer to get into WE HUNT THE FLAME, but after about, I would say, ninety-ish pages, I couldn’t put it down. The worldbuilding was spectacular, is spectacular, and the prose is totally captivating. And there is some next level chemistry between Zafira and Nasir, although I admit I’m more of an Altair fan because he reminds me of Cassian. So obviously.

jessie [00:02:10] [chuckling] Yeah, that makes sense. [kelly laughs].

transition [00:02:11] [jaunty string music plays]

kelly [00:02:17] Time to talk about worldbuilding in “Through the Wardrobe”.

jessie [00:02:21] So in this world, Zafira is pretending to be a man because in her caliphate, being an independent woman is seen as bad. And the death of her father, plus her abilities, have made her the person in charge of her household. So I really liked this part of the world building. I think we see maybe a world that we haven’t gotten to see in other YA  books we’ve read where being a woman in general is just… you’re able to be persecuted for that. I guess we see a little bit maybe in like ACOTAR in the Spring Court at least. But I really liked this this kind of story way of introducing us to Zafira and showing us who she was as a person.

kelly [00:03:09] And then I also thought it it did a good job of showing how she’s situated then in relationship to all of these– to the different power structures. She is rebelling against them from the beginning.

jessie [00:03:20] Yeah, for sure. Yeah. She starts out. Yeah. And then also it’s part of the– um… the magical system as well is that she’s the only one who can go into the Arz and come back out. And that’s why that all started with her taking on the persona of the Hunter is because she could go in there to get animals for food for her community. Initially, I think just for her family. And that’s why we see her kind of taking on this alternate personality or not alternate personality, but alter ego.

transition [00:03:56] [spellcasting sound]

jessie [00:04:02] Faizal says that the world is inspired by ancient Arabia, which I really liked. [incredulously] I don’t know that I put this Arawiya thing in there. I don’t remember that.

kelly [00:04:10] I put it in there.

jessie [00:04:11] oh okay I was like “I can’t remember this” [laughs] I read this a long time ago. So who knows when I wrote this? [laughs]. So do you want to talk about the five caliphate’s?

kelly [00:04:23] I was just gonna like… I think it’s just nice to recap it–

jessie [00:04:27] oh OK.

kelly [00:04:27] –for people.

jessie [00:04:27] OK, so Arawiya has five caliphates: Alderamin, Sarasin, Demenhur, Zeram, Pelusia and Sharr. Each is ruled by a Caliph or Calipha. I think only one of them is ruled by a woman…. I don’t remember which one. So, yeah, I really liked the world that this was inspired by, I thought this was really interesting. I actually saw this on a list that said it was like a retelling of Aladdin, which I do not agree with in any way, shape or form.

kelly [00:05:03] Not at all!! [jessie laughs] Just because it’s set in like– like inspired by ancient Arabia doesn’t mean it’s the same thing as Aladdin!

jessie [00:05:10] Yeah.

kelly [00:05:10] That’s like serious orientalism there

jessie [00:05:12]  Yeah. So I but that was like, really weird. I think it’s hard because it’s currently Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, so I think people were trying to– like the list was trying to include that. But I’m like, we don’t really need to make a connection between some other story. [laughs]

kelly [00:05:34] Yeah, it doesn’t–  It’s like how Nnedi Okorafor bristles when her work is called, like “the Harry Potter of”.

jessie [00:05:42] yeah.

kelly [00:05:42] You know, like “Black Harry Potter” or whatever. It’s like, no! Not at all! Doesn’t have to be the standard against which everything is compared.

jessie [00:05:51] Yeah, for sure.

transition [00:05:55] [spellcasting sound]

kelly [00:05:55] I am all in for the interactive map that the– on the book’s website. It is so cool! And now I want every book to come with one of these. Not to mention it’s helpful for putting together a certain podcast um dot, dot, dot. [jessie laughs] so I’m like I’m really into this. I think it’s like a cool way to… I dunno, just draw readers into the story a little bit more using technology and then also have the you– we’re going to talk later about the descriptions of the characters and how they come with art on the website.

jessie [00:06:32] Yeah.

kelly [00:06:34] um But I thought that the using that as an extension of the book as a resource for readers is I think that’s really rad. And I think it’s gonna, um we’re gonna keep seeing this.

jessie [00:06:46] Yeah, it’s funny because I don’t think I realize that there was an interactive map on the website. I did read this from the physical book and I do think there was a map in the book as well.

kelly [00:06:57] Mmhmm.

jessie [00:06:57] Sometimes that doesn’t come across as well in an e-book. But um, Yeah, that’s really cool!

kelly [00:07:04] You hover over things and they light up and then you can click on them and then I’ll give you a description of Demenhur, for example. Right. Or a quote or something. So I think it’s yeah, super helpful and really a way to draw readers into the world even more.

transition [00:07:22] [spellcasting sound]

jessie [00:07:25] We also get lots of Arabic words and clothing throughout this story, none of which are really explained. There is a glossary and pronunciation guide online, so you can look that up there. I also looked up things using Google because that also exists. You can Google things. But I really like this. And I think we’ve talked about this in other books that we’ve read, when not everything is explained to us because that does get kind of annoying after a while. So I appreciated just having these things thrown in, not thrown in, but like chosen to be part of the world without explaining it too, you know, non-community members. You know what I mean?

kelly [00:08:08] Absolutely. I thought it was very seamlessly woven in and that was wonderful. And by context, honestly, you can figure out what a lot of the word– words mean. And after a while. I don’t know. I learned a lot of new words, actually. So I don’t know any Arabic whatsoever. So–

jessie [00:08:30] Yeah.

kelly [00:08:31] I thought that it was… um, yeah, just really well done, kind of remind me of how Zoraida Córdova writes in Spanglish sometimes, right?

jessie [00:08:42] Yeah, for sure.

kelly [00:08:43] And I really appreciate when the worldbuilding is extended to the, like, linguistic realm, because that’s obviously a big part of culture. And that’s what worldbuilding is like really trying to recreate.

jessie [00:08:56] Yeah, I agree.

transition [00:09:01] [spellcasting sound]

kelly [00:09:01] And the food descriptions. Oh, my gosh!

jessie [00:09:05] Yeah, there is a lot of food stuff going on in there [laughs].

kelly [00:09:09] But it didn’t– I didn’t find it boring. I thought it was– it really kind of upped the sensorial….um Like how real everything felt to me as a reader.

jessie [00:09:20] Yeah, I agree. Yeah. Plus, I really like food. So, you know.

kelly [00:09:25] Love! Love it.

jessie [00:09:26] I mean, mostly baking.

kelly [00:09:29] The descriptions of ice cream, I was like, I really want ice cream. And luckily, I have ice cream at the moment, so.

jessie [00:09:36] That’s so funny! I did not even think about that cuz when I read it, I think it was still cold out. So I was like, “no, thank you. Not time for ice cream at all.” [laughs].

kelly [00:09:44] We should say we just that we’re recording in the middle of May.

jessie [00:09:47] Yeah.

kelly [00:09:48] At the moment.

jessie [00:09:48] Yeah. But when I read it, I think it was maybe February. So the last thing on my mind was ice cream.

jessie [00:09:56] Yeah.

kelly [00:09:58] Or a pandemic?!

jessie [00:09:59] Yeah.

kelly [00:09:59] Things change.

jessie [00:10:01] For sure.

transition [00:10:01] [jaunty string music plays]

j & k [00:10:08] Wands out!

jessie [00:10:09] Let’s discuss all things magic! So, the magic in Arawiya is gone because of the actions of one of the Six Sisters and the Lion. I really like these stories where magic is gone and people have to go find it again. I think it’s a really good way to introduce us to the magic of the world, um which sometimes… I know we have talked about this briefly, talking about the new Sarah J Maas book and how we were kind of introduced to everything, kind of weirdly. I think, because the world is already so set up. But not one that we have been introduced to yet. [chuckles] So I really like this way of setting up the magical world so that the reader can be reintroduced to it with the characters.

kelly [00:10:54] That’s a really good point. As a narrative strategy, I think it works really well, which is what you’re– you know, I echo what you were saying.

jessie [00:11:02] Yeah.

transition [00:11:02] [spellcasting sound]

jessie [00:11:06] Zafira can also travel into the Arz with no repercussions because she has magical powers. I didn’t really know why she was gonna be able to travel into the Arz. Maybe I did know that it was magical powers or something, but I really like that she– like her magical powers, that she can find things [chuckles] that would be very useful in real life!

kelly [00:11:26] Incredibly useful. I leave my phone all over the damn place and I can never find it.

jessie [00:11:33] But like, you wouldn’t even need Google Maps anymore. Like, can you imagine? Like you would just know how to get places.

kelly [00:11:38] I wouldn’t even need a phone maybe.

jessie [00:11:40] Okay. Well, I think that maybe the point of a phone is that– for people to be able to contact you, so….

kelly [00:11:46] Yes. But it’s very helpful for directions.

jessie [00:11:48] Sure, sure. Yeah.

kelly [00:11:50] I know the– they’re called affinities in this book, right?

jessie [00:11:53] I think so, yeah.

kelly [00:11:55] Your magical abilities or whatever. And then the only way to get magic outside of your ability is to either be Safin. Correct? Or to do blood magic. That’s what I understood.

jessie [00:12:09] I don’t know about the Safin part. Maybe that’s true. I don’t know. [laughs]

kelly [00:12:15] oh, okay. I just thought they had a relationship to magic. That was different than human.

jessie [00:12:18] Maybe like able to study it in a different way?

kelly [00:12:21] Cuz Benyamin has all of the potions and things like that. So… he’s also really old.

jessie [00:12:27] Yeah, that’s true.

kelly [00:12:28] So he knows how to use magic and stuff.

jessie [00:12:30] Yeah. I also like the idea that maybe more people have magic than we realize because as we go through the story we see, you know, Zafira has magic. It turns out that  Nasir has magic. I mean, I guess his mom is like one of the Six Sisters, like she’s a witch. So.

kelly [00:12:50] Big witch energy! Yeah, I love it. Right?

jessie [00:12:52] I mean, she’s kind of a bad mom, so I don’t know that I love it. [laughs]

kelly [00:12:55] Oh, yeah. No, she’s she’s a terrible mom. Yeah. But she’s a good witch.

jessie [00:13:00] Maybe? I don’t know.

kelly [00:13:02] Maybe? I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive,.

jessie [00:13:04] I guess not [laughs].

kelly [00:13:06] I don’t know.

transition [00:13:06] [spellcasting sound]

kelly [00:13:10] And then… I guess we’re we’re gonna see– in book two, it seems like we’re going to get more of the how everyone is learning now that magic is reintroduced. What’s that’s going to do to the world. Right? How everyone’s reacting to that. um, So that’ll be really interesting, I’m looking forward to the next book!

jessie [00:13:31] Me too! I also like the idea that we’re gonna get to see the wider world cuz we spent so we spent so long in wherever that place was where they were tracking down the book.

kelly [00:13:42] Sharr!

jessie [00:13:43] Sharr, OK, I read this a long time ago.[laughs] I should have looked–.

kelly [00:13:48] –and I finished it…last night. [laughs]

jessie [00:13:49] Yeah. So Imm–.

kelly [00:13:51] you’re Getting a look a look behind the fourth wall, magical people.

jessie [00:13:56] Yeah. So I’m interested to see maybe like the other caliphates in the different areas, cuz they also seem to have– be like stuck in different seasons, which was really interesting. Um Because Zafira is stuck in like perpetual winter, which seem like that sounds like the worst possible situation to me. So yeah, I’m excited to see some of the other places.

kelly [00:14:18] Seeing as how I need my SAD lamp after, like, a day without sunshine. Yeah, I wouldn’t I wouldn’t handle it very well over there.

jessie [00:14:26] Yeah. I just don’t like the cold, so it’s not going to be good for me. [kelly laughs].

transition [00:14:30] [spellcasting sound]

jessie [00:14:35] We also get magical creatures like Ifrits and Safin, which kind of remind me of the Fae.

kelly [00:14:41] Totally with their like pointed ears.

jessie [00:14:43] yeah!

kelly [00:14:43] And their immortality. Etc., etc.,.

jessie [00:14:46] The pointy ears really give it away. And for some reason, I keep imagining Benyamin as like Spock. I don’t know. Maybe Spock [kelly bursts into laughter] is just so smart, you know? And I love Zachary Quinto… Anyways. So.

kelly [00:15:02] OH! As a Zachary Quinto Spock, I. Okay.

jessie [00:15:05] Yeah. Not Leonard Nimoy, but. Yeah.

kelly [00:15:07] All right.

jessie [00:15:08] Yeah.

kelly [00:15:10] Um…And then we also– there’s so many different magical creatures. I love that you put this in there because like there’s the Ruk which we saw before.

kelly [00:15:18] What was the? We read a book with a Ruk in it.

jessie [00:15:21] Um, I’m guessing it probably is an ember and the ashes because an ember in the Ashes also had Ifrits. And I think– because both of them are um,.

kelly [00:15:28] And they also talk about like Safin steel.

jessie [00:15:31] Yeah. And I think it’s because–.

kelly [00:15:32] –Which is Interesting.

jessie [00:15:32] I think is because it’s Arabic inspired. So it’s inspired by, you know.

kelly [00:15:36] Totally.

jessie [00:15:37] By lore.

kelly [00:15:38] But there’s so many– there were so many other creatures which I, I always enjoy. And other-than-human being.

jessie [00:15:47] Well, I think it’s really–.

kelly [00:15:47] –Those are really fun.

jessie [00:15:48] And I think it’s really interesting because I was watching. If anyone watch Patriot Act, then like you can on YouTube, you can watch deep cuts where Hassan [Minhaj] Hassan will, like, answer questions from the audience. And he talked about like ifrits and djinn in like an episode about like the stories his parents would tell them to, like, scare them or whatever [laughs], like him and his sister. So it’s interesting to see like like a backstory to these creatures and that sort of thing. But also see that like they’re part of a culture we just don’t know about, you know?

kelly [00:16:24] Exactly. But! Learning about so it’s like, oh, yeah, I know what an ifrit does, because we also also– sit there in City of Brass.

jessie [00:16:30] Yeah. City of brass, that was the other one .

kelly [00:16:33] So… Which I want to put the next ones on our TBR.

jessie [00:16:37] Yes! Yeah, we should.

kelly [00:16:38] Side note.

j & k [00:16:40] Wands away!

transition [00:16:46] [jaunty string music plays].

kelly [00:16:46] Now we’re going to talk about conflict villains and good versus evil in our segment “Get me Kylo Ren!”

jessie [00:16:52] So we have two big villains in this story, I would say um [clears threat} the Lion and Gameq. The lion obviously is the one who I guess is the reason that all the magic is gone, basically. And Gameq, uh Nasir’s father, is just the absolute worst! [laughs] He is the emperor? The King?

kelly [00:17:22] Sultan.

jessie [00:17:22] Sultan. I was like, I don’t remember. I’ve watched so…mmm It doesn’t matter. [chuckles] I’m watching The Great right now and they have an emperor. So I’m like, what is what is the title? It’s different in different places.

kelly [00:17:36] mmhmm.

jessie [00:17:36] But he is slowly but surely taking over the other caliphates, infiltrating them and killing people and just doing a lot of terrible shit. He’s pretty bad.

kelly [00:17:48] It seems like it’s like a portrait of power or of villain of evil, I guess, as the pursuit of power for its own sake, because there is a lot of discussion about “there’s no reason that the sultan needs to be killing the caliph and taking over other caliphates” caliphates like he’s already has a lot of power. um So like the abuse of power, I guess, is what I would say comes through as like a common theme.

jessie [00:18:16] Well, I think part of it is he seems to be like possessed. The lion maybe is doing so. He’s got like that necklace. That seems to be weird,.

kelly [00:18:23] Right.

jessie [00:18:24] So I think something else is going on that we don’t know yet that.

kelly [00:18:30] Mm hmm.

jessie [00:18:30] Well. We’ll learn about probably later in the next book, but yeah, there’s a lot going on with the lion who’s not dead and now has Altair captured.

kelly [00:18:42] And slash is his dad!!

jessie [00:18:44] Oh, yeah, that too. [laughs]

kelly [00:18:47] There is a lot of, like, surprise familial relationship reveals. And they were at first, they were cool, I thought. And then I don’t know. After a while, it seemed like a lot.

jessie [00:18:59] It was only really two. I mean, I guess three, if you think about–.

kelly [00:19:04] the brother.

jessie [00:19:05] Yeah. That one didn’t really bother me.

kelly [00:19:08] No, that one didn’t bother me either. But anyway, I’m curious to know more about the Lion, since I don’t really understand. You know me. I love a villain backStory. obvi.

jessie [00:19:18] I  know.

kelly [00:19:18] So, like, why are you evil? I’m curious to know more.

jessie [00:19:22] Yeah, I guess we’ll see.

kelly [00:19:25] We will.

transition [00:19:25] [spellcasting sound]

kelly [00:19:30] This book got me thinkin because of the– Nasir’s burns, that there is a lot of child abuse in YA slash [pauses]  What? What do you call it? Older…?

jessie [00:19:46] Oh, like, new adult.

kelly [00:19:49] New adult! Like that sort of genre, and I’m just kind of_ it got me wondering about what, like the Potent–, why that’s the case and what are, I guess, potential consequences of such representations? I wondered what you thought.

jessie [00:20:08] I think it’s probably like a two-pronged issue. I think one thing that Y.A. has kind of been dealing with in more recent years maybe is the lack of parents in stories. Like for some reason, parents just happened to not exist in YA books or they are just like, like filler, kind of. Like there are parents, but they seem to have no idea what’s going on and they’re just there because kids need parents. So I think maybe that is fixing that by villianizing them. But I also think that as we as a society move forward, we kind of take on these bigger issues head on at it at younger and younger ages. And I think to not have Y.A. with child abuse in it would be almost irresponsible because there are kids who are dealing with that, who are dealing with issues similar to Nasir’s or much worse or not as bad. But, you know, they’re still being abused by parents because he’s being abused both physically and emotionally. So I guess,.

kelly [00:21:13] Yeah.

jessie [00:21:13] –kind of gives young people and out to deal with those feelings, to talk about them and kind of a safe way. Now, the book doesn’t really give any mmm solutions on how to deal with this. And he’s probably gonna kill his dad. And in real life, if you just killed your parent, you’d probably go to jail. [laughs] So, like, maybe don’t do that if you can help it.

kelly [00:21:36] It’s not like a direct analogy–

jessie [00:21:38] Yeah.

kelly [00:21:38] For life, but..

jessie [00:21:40] I’m not–

kelly [00:21:41] I see what you mean.

jessie [00:21:42] I’m not gonna give people advice on whether or not to kill their parents is what I’m saying. So, like.

kelly [00:21:45] No, no, we’re not. I don’t, we don’t do that here.

jessie [00:21:49] [laughs] But what I mean to say is that, like, people do deal with this in, you know, in the real world. So I think it’s just kind of mirroring that and giving people away to talk about these issues.

kelly [00:22:00] Mm hmm. And I think one of the… Like, the good things that comes from it is, I mean, representation matters, which is the point that you’re making.

jessie [00:22:08] Mmhmm.

kelly [00:22:08] And normalizing it. And I think that we’re getting into a discussion of like it’s whether. [pausese] We’re seeing how Nasir internalizes the abuse and how that manifests inside of him. And then also why. um We’re kind of seeing what’s necessary to get rid of that and push back against it. And it also normalizes those sorts of feelings, too, which I think is really helpful.

jessie [00:22:37] Yeah, I agree. And I think– I mean, I think this is a question people ask about lots of different hard issues that come up in books like “why do we need to see this,” you know? um

kelly [00:22:46] Mm hmm.

jessie [00:22:47] But I think it’s important because, like, just because one person hasn’t dealt with that or doesn’t deal with it doesn’t mean another person doesn’t. So, it’s kind of nice to have that something for everyone. That being said, it can be difficult to read I’m guessing whether or not you’ve dealt with child abuse. So we will put a content warning at the top of the episode. [laughs].

kelly [00:23:06] Absolutely.

jessie [00:23:09] Yeah. So there is also that.

transition [00:23:11] [jaunty string music plays]

jessie [00:23:16] Onward, magical friends. Just as one does not simply walk into Mordor, one does not simply read fantasy without talking about representations of race, class and gender. This is our segment about power and bodies and how they relate. Let’s start with race.

kelly [00:23:31] Yeah, which is… Like we should maybe put an asterisk by because it’s also kind of like species’ slash different type of being. So it’s not what we think of as race.

jessie [00:23:41] Yeah. Which I think we see in a lot of YA fantasy books where there are lots of different types of, I want to say people, but like humanoid beings. So I’m not really sure how much race comes into play in the story. Each of the caliphates seem to have different traits and different beliefs about each other. But because I was newly introduced this world, I couldn’t quite get a handle on what all that meant from a racial standpoint. And there’s a possibility that we will see more of this in the future, and that will kind of be worked out for me at least. Other than the Safin who think they’re the absolute best. I saw from the author’s website that the main cast of characters all look different. And you can find that on her Web site, which we’ll link to. But it was interesting because they all look different. They all had different skin colors. um Which.

kelly [00:24:30] Different dressing, different hairstyle, different like turbans, things like that.

jessie [00:24:35] Yeah. So I’m interested to see how that will– um I think we’ll see more interaction between different types of people. Like we saw someone from each group almost with the– with the Zumra. But I think we will see how those interactions play out in a bigger, larger scheme of things in the next book.

kelly [00:24:57] Yeah, it seems like the differences were more ethnic.

jessie [00:25:00] Mm hmm.

kelly [00:25:00] Rather than racial, honestly. And like cultural and ethnic slash cultural between the different caliphate’s. And that was like more of a determining factor than race or gender necessarily.

jessie [00:25:14] Yeah, well, we kind of see that like Zafira is from Demenhur,  and she is like blond hair and blue eyed, [laughs]  which I was not expecting.

kelly [00:25:24] I think she has dark hair.

jessie [00:25:26] oh she had what, blond hair? Well, maybe she just had blue eyes, which is also like.

kelly [00:25:30] She has very light blue eyes but dark hair

jessie [00:25:32] OK, but anyways, she lives somewhere cold. And I was just like, yeah, that seems right. [laughs] So it’ll be it’ll be interesting to see how things play out in the future books.

transition [00:25:43] [spellcasting sound]

kelly [00:25:47] And to your point, I think the novel… Reading this had me thinking about how… About the constructedness of race overall. And science fiction or fantasy or really great at doing this. They just kind of. They introduce like magical or different elements and then defamiliariz what we think.. what We think we knew and then can thus reveal different kinds of relationships and power dynamics. And that’s why I think it’s really– like the genres are really cool. And we’re seeing that race slash, ethnicity slash nationality, whatever, works differently than the assumptions we as readers might bring with us to the text. So, for instance, like white supremacy doesn’t operate in Arawiya like it does in our reality. So I think that’s just something to keep in mind.

jessie [00:26:37] Yeah, and I think it’s important to think about that in our real world as well. When we think about people in different– like outside of the United States. Sometimes I think we think that because people all live in one country, they all get along and like everything’s the same for every person. But they’re like also not a monolith. And they have different cultures the way that there are different cultures in the United States. And they– things don’t operate the same way there as they do here. So, whereas in the United States, people might think, “oh, well, this is a group of people.” They’re like, yes, but that is also broken down differently within their culture.

kelly [00:27:16] Mm hmm.

jessie [00:27:17] So I think that’s kind of what we’re seeing here is like a difference of culture and probably religion, like all those things are at play.

kelly [00:27:26] Yeah, although we don’t have that much religion in the novels, and I think I remember reading somewhere that the author did that on purpose because didn’t want to conflate the region with a religion. correct?

jessie [00:27:37] Yeah, yeah. And I read that as well. There’s like a Q&A–.

kelly [00:27:41] we can find the article and link to it or something.

jessie [00:27:42] There’s a Q&A on good reads and that’s where that was. Or least that’s where I saw it. Where she was answering questions about the book because someone asked if there was Muslim representation in the book. And she talked about how the story is set in an ancient like not ancient. I guess it’s ancient? I don’t know. I don’t know my time periods, but it’s said a long time ago and like an Arabic world. But she did not want to bring in religion to it. So. That’s her choice, to do what she wants. And I do think some… I think some people will read this and like, put that on the story, but it’s not that.

kelly [00:28:16] but that’s because of the own prejudices that were coming to the book with not because of anything that is in the book.

jessie [00:28:21] Right, exactly. Yeah. cuz we don’t really see really. I don’t know the Safin might…. There’s some stuff going on there, but I don’t really I don’t really know.

kelly [00:28:30] I mean, there there were. It seems like. Possibly. [pauses] The six sisters of old were some sort of like religious–.

jessie [00:28:40] Yeah. Yeah.

kelly [00:28:42] –figures, but I’m not… That wasn’t clear to me.

jessie [00:28:44] Yeah. And some of that stuff, I think could be fleshed out as we see more of the world. As they travel other places, that sort of thing.

transition [00:28:50] [spellcasting sound]

kelly [00:28:54] All right, let’s talk about class!

jessie [00:28:56] Yes. Zafira becomes the hunter because she and her people on the brink of starvation. She– with the– with with the Arz being around being like that magical thing or whatever, people are losing out on resources cuz they can’t be– like they’re not as connected to each other as it seems like maybe they possibly were before.

kelly [00:29:19] Mm hmm. Yeah, that’s the sense that I got, too. Was that the disappearance of magic has affected the distribution of resources throughout the entire world. And then that’s led to severe economic disparities. And, of course, the sultan et al. are, you know, isn’t suffering, and neither are the collapse of the, you know, califas or the people around them. So we see that like there’s still a class system at work, but it cuz we have royalty and things like that. But it doesn’t seem to be as. i dunno,  money just doesn’t seem to be as important.

jessie [00:30:01] Yeah, and I think I think the book made it seem like to me at least, that maybe there was a little bit more like the that Arawiya was more cohesive before the Arz. So, like, there might have been more trading or–.

kelly [00:30:15] Right.

jessie [00:30:17] –before the Arz. So I don’t know what’s going to happen now that that’s gone.

kelly [00:30:22] Well, also, because the… I remember reading that the like the Barren Sea used to be like full of all sorts of creatures and fish, you know, that the [inaudible] would would hunt. So it like it’s affected– the disappearance of magic has clearly affected everyone. And it’s like led to a lot of material suffering and it seems like.

transition [00:30:46] [spellcasting sound]

jessie [00:30:49] All right. Wanna talk about gender?

kelly [00:30:52] Let’s do it!

jessie [00:30:53] So obviously, we see that in Zafira’s caliphate, being a woman is the worst thing possible, and there are a lot of restrictions on women. Kifa, on the other hand, is a warrior in her caliphate. So we see how women are treated differently. Depends on where they’re from. And I liked that they showed how the different cultures, like within within the wider world, are treating people differently.

kelly [00:31:21] Yeah, we saw… I thought the the depiction of like the difference in gender dynamics or like gendered power was um I thought really thorough and nuanced, and I appreciate that. That the author thought through that. Yeah, Kifa’s a bad ass. And so is Zafira! I really appreciated the like two superstrong protags, yeah, women protags, fighters.

jessie [00:31:52] Well, I feel like a lot of times we’ll only get one in a story, so it was nice to see that they like came together and worked together. I know Zaphira was very suspicious of everyone else in the group, and rightfully so [chuckles] at the beginning of this story. So it was really cool to see Zafira and Kifa especially come together and work together. So we don’t really get this, like cattiness that we sometimes see in other books between, the– the women characters. I appreciate.

kelly [00:32:21] Ugh Yeah. Ew, no thank you. That is not– I don’t like [cattiness b/t women & femmes] at all.

jessie [00:32:24] Yeah. I mean, I think it can happen. Right. I think it can serve it’s purpose and that that does happen in real life. But I think in this instance they both like two different dudes, like they both have their own things going on and they’re just like, “yeah, we’re gonna work together” and it works out.

transition [00:32:41] [spellcasting sound]

jessie [00:32:45] We also see that Deen offers to go with Zafira, which felt so wrong to me, like he thinks Zafira needed his protection. But as soon as he offered to go, I knew that meant Deen was going to die. And I was not disappointed. [laughs]

kelly [00:32:59] [bursts into laughter] How did you know that that meant he was going to die? [laughs]

jessie [00:33:01] Oh, it’s just like that is how the stories go. Like, if you’re like, “we’re gonna do this together, like, it’s gonna be great!” nd you’re not the main character, you’re gonna to die, like that’s how stories work. It’s how I knew Kylo Ren was gonna die because like, he finally came to the good side, I was like, “great, now he’s dead.” Anyways, that’s a whole different story. I’m real upset about that, even though I–.

kelly [00:33:22] now we’re gonna have to put mega Star Wars spoiler alerts!

jessie [00:33:26] I just–  I just edited [the Crooked Kingdom episode] that also has Star Wars, maybe not Crooked Kingdom, but some episode I just edited it has Star Wars spoilers. Also, it came out a long time ago,[kelly laughs] like five months ago. No one’s going to the movie theaters ever again. Anyways…

kelly [00:33:44]  thanks to the ‘rona.

jessie [00:33:47] Yeah. Yeah. Anyways, while he was alive, I felt like Deen tried to have too much control over Zafira and I did not like that at all. So I was glad when he died. [chuckles]

kelly [00:34:00] [laughs] Okay. So I did not interpret um [chuckles] that the same– like the character’s intentions the same way as you did.

jessie [00:34:09] Ok

kelly [00:34:11] But I’m persuaded by your version [jessie laughs].

jessie [00:34:16] I just–

kelly [00:34:16] I am.

jessie [00:34:16] I just got like major Tamlin vibes from him. And I was just like, “no thank you”

kelly [00:34:22] ohhhh! Totally. Well, now, when you put it in those terms… And I mean it it is very. That makes sense. Right. Because of his. Now that I’m thinking about– you said Tamlin, I’m like  Nasir and Rysand are kind of similar. So anyway, sidebar. But, ugh yeah, I don’t– I wasn’t that sad when Deen died either, but I… Like I understand the narrative purpose, right? Dark night of the soul for the– for the main character, that sort of thing. But yeah, I wasn’t super into that. And I was– appreciate that that love triangle was resolved sooner rather than later.

jessie [00:35:03] Yeah. And I didn’t know, like, if we were gonna get like this– because because Altair, like, very flirty [laughs] I didn’t know you’re going to get like a love triangle with like Altair and Nasir and Zafira, but they like shut that shit down real fast and.

kelly [00:35:18] yep.

jessie [00:35:17] I’m fine with that. I don’t need that love triangle because I don’t– like I really like Altair a lot. I think he’s a great character and I could see like being BFFs with him, but I don’t really need that love triangle situation going on. So I really liked that.

kelly [00:35:32] There’s plenty of other drama going on without that.

jessie [00:35:36] Yeah. For sure. So I kind of appreciated like how the romance worked down the book, even if it wasn’t like the biggest thing. Part of the story. Yeah, it was good.

transition [00:35:46] [spellcasting sound]

kelly [00:35:50] So I think that we should talk about masculinity and how that’s portrayed.

jessie [00:35:54] OK.

kelly [00:35:55] cuz we– we haven’t really talked about that. So it was refreshing that there were non-toxic examples of masculinity in- included in the book. um Or just like even moments of it on page 208, there’s one moment where right after the Zumra gets together. Maybe it’s just Altair and Zafira and Nasir. But, Zafira is leading or no. So I’m just gonna read it because I’m clearly not doing a [laughing] good job paraphrasing [jessie laughs]. “He led them, Altair on  his heels, the girl trailing behind noisily, still addled by her exchange with Altair. Nasir gritted his teeth against the urge to snap at her to keep up. But she didn’t need a man to tell her what to do. That much he knew.” Yes, STFU, shut the fuck up. Know when you need to be quiet. I just mmm! Loved that moment.

jessie [00:36:53] Yeah, that’s really that’s really great! I didn’t really think about how I guess. I don’t really think about how dudes are [laughs] very often. I’m not concerned. But, yeah, that is really good that he like recognizes that he doesn’t need to do that. It’s pretty refreshing.

kelly [00:37:15] And then it was tracked in the narration. So like seeing a person like socialized as male decide not to say something because they know that the person of this other gender, like, doesn’t need to hear it is… I loved it.

jessie [00:37:33] Yeah. And I think that’s also– you know, the longer I read the book, the more I like Nasir and like comparing him backward to Deen. I’m like “Deen, like, shut the fuck up. She’s gonna do whatever she wants to do, like leave her alone!” you know? So we have toxic masculinity with Deen and like not so much with Nasir. I mean, he’s like killing people for a living. But like, I’m fine with that. [chuckles].

transition [00:37:53] [spellcasting sound]

kelly [00:37:58] Also, there’s wait, there’s one more thing.

jessie [00:38:00] OK.

kelly [00:38:00] I can’t remember what page it’s on, but there’s a quote. Yasmine says it. Let me see if I can find it. [pauses] I underlined it. [pauses] It’s…. Yasmine says something like, “men can be such beautiful trash.” [laughs]

jessie [00:38:20] [laughs] I don’t remember that, but it is true. Very true.

kelly [00:38:24] “Men can be such beautiful trash” that stuck with me. It’s like, wow.

jessie [00:38:30] So well put. Yeah, for sure.

kelly [00:38:32] There’s truth in that. NoTallMen [a pun on the #notallmen] as [the podcast] Witch, Please would say.

transition [00:38:37] [spellcasting sound]

kelly [00:38:39] One thing that I bristled at was the– all the like marriage business at the beginning. Because Yasmine was being talked about like a possession being exchanged. And obviously this is within the context of Demenhune’s culture, which is very patriarchal, and rigidly so. But that was. oof. I just noticed myself getting all…. My my hackles all raised.

jessie [00:39:08] Yeah, I think it’s kind of difficult too because, like, Yasmine, seemed like real into it. So i’m also like, wha– then like How am I supposed to feel about it? Because she wants this. You know what I mean?

kelly [00:39:20] Yeah, like I love love, just like mmm that sort of like ownership discourse really isn’t for me.

jessie [00:39:25] Yeah, yeah. I’m just like, yeah I don’t know how to feel about it because I’m like, if it’s what Yasmine wants, I don’t know that it’s on me to be like, “no” [chuckles] you know what I mean?

kelly [00:39:36] Definitely not. Yeah. Yeah. For sure.

jessie [00:39:38] So I dunno. I like Yasmine kind of, but she was like also really into Zafira  not going and staying and like being with her brother. And I feel like she’s gonna probably turn into a villain because she’s gonna be super pissed that her brother’s dead.

kelly [00:39:54] Oh yeah. She probably blames Zafira, etc, etc.. There’s gonna be drama.

jessie [00:39:59] Well, I think she’s also gonna be very upset with Nasir and that’s not gonna go over well with Zafira. So, you know.

kelly [00:40:10] Mhm, yeah,.

jessie [00:40:12] Yeah.

kelly [00:40:13] Mm, interesting. We’ll have to see!

jessie [00:40:16] [exasperated] ugh! It’s so far away. I’m gonna just preorder it now. [both laugh]

kelly [00:40:20] Preorders are important! People should do that.

jessie [00:40:23] Yeah, for sure.

kelly [00:40:24] I should do that more.

transition [00:40:25] [spellcasting sound]

kelly [00:40:28] I think there’s actually a lot about madness in this book.

jessie [00:40:32] Mm hmm.

kelly [00:40:33] And that it it’s explored really I think generously and deliberately because we see the arts–The arts– arz, ours? I dunno. drives people mad, supposedly. And so when Zafira’s dad comes back, he has gone insane, been driven insane and then has– and then tries to kill Zafira, correct?

jessie [00:41:03] Yes.

kelly [00:41:04] And then Zafira’s mother has to kill her husband.

jessie [00:41:09] yep.

kelly [00:41:09] And the father of her kids. So talk about trauma.

jessie [00:41:11] Well. And she loves him. That’s important. She actually likes him. So…

kelly [00:41:15] Yeah, everyone liked him.

jessie [00:41:17] Yeah.

kelly [00:41:17] He was a good dad.

jessie [00:41:18] Yeah. Like he was a very good person.

kelly [00:41:20] Yeah. And then that triggers a whole bunch of trauma obviously in Zafira’s mother, right? Which then the two children are forced to deal with. So there’s, I mean, I think that really the book explores this a lot. And how it’s a legacy on both sides of their family. And I’m curious whether this is gonna affect or how this is gonna affect Zafira in the future books.

jessie [00:41:51] Yeah, I think it might be helpful to her to have had that experience as she’s going forward. And she’s with Nasir, who is obviously dealing with his own shit, you know? um with his dad and his mom and all those things. But I I think it’ll be helpful to Zafira in that it’ll make her… It will make her more understanding when she finally does, like, meet the sultan or whatever, because I think she will recognize that he’s making decisions and doing things. And he’s like being affected by magic in a similar way that her- her father was. Because there’s also a lot going on with him.

kelly [00:42:32] Yeah, totally! And then that also does remind me of a point that Benyamin makes about both people having capacity, and by people, I mean beings. People means all beings, ok?

jessie [00:42:46] mhhmm mmhhmmm.

kelly [00:42:46] Being capable of both, you know, good and evil, for lack of a better word.

jessie [00:42:51] Yeah, for sure.

kelly [00:42:53] It’s a through line for sure. We see it with Nasir, we see it with Altair. We see it with Zafira. We see it with Gameq, etc.,.

jessie [00:43:02] Everyone’s dealing with some mental health issues in this book.

kelly [00:43:07] mmhhmmm.

jessie [00:43:07] I think they’ve all got pretty shitty backstories. And shitty and like I mean, like their childhood, their lives were not great. Yeah. So, yeah, full of trauma. [chuckles] So we’ll see where that leads them in the future.

transition [00:43:22] [spellcasting sound]

kelly [00:43:26] One thing that I want to mention before we move on is… I think we’re getting with the lion’s like overreach and abuse of power, I think it’s a portrait of what coloniality or like colonization does. Or like where that impulse comes from, maybe.

jessie [00:43:46] Yeah, for sure.

transition [00:43:47] [jaunty string music plays]

kelly [00:43:52] Finally, it’s time for Shipwrecked, a segment about sexuality, asexuality, sex, romance and relationships. And sometimes we take liberties and do some shipping of our own.

kelly [00:44:03] I love, love, loved how Faizal developed the Zumra and everyone’s relationships to one another. Like we got to see…. There’s so much good banter, like bickering. I don’t know. Negotiating. Like figuring out [haltingly] like whether they’re gonna… Alliances! That’s the word I’m looking for. I just thought that this was that part was really well done. And I thought that the character building was really good, too.

jessie [00:44:32] Yeah, I agree. And I think we see the characters come to get to know one another. Especially as we see, like the different groups come together. And I really liked that they showed how Zafira learn to trust each of them. Even though she started out like very much not trusting them at all and like contemplating killing them. So I thought– I think she did a really good job writing those relationships in the story.

kelly [00:44:59] But the– think that’s a that’s a really good point that you make about how that we’re seeing how Zafira then changes in relationship to all those people. I hadn’t thought about that before. Thank you for pointing that out. Because she does. She’s like opens up more.

jessie [00:45:14] Mm hmm.

kelly [00:45:15] Which is kind of a theme about like her open face. Which I thought I felt like very … related to because I do the same thing. If I’m not having it, you can definitely tell by my face. So. Yeah, I think that that’s a really good point about how we can, like as readers track the protagonist change by how she relates to other people.

jessie [00:45:41] For sure.

transition [00:45:41] [spellcasting sound]

jessie [00:45:46] I would also like to mention if you didn’t get this earlier, that I 100 percent ship Zafira and Nasir, and that’s all.

kelly [00:45:55] There was really, really good chemistry between the two. I thought they did a really good– I thought the author did a really good job of, like, crafting the suspense and all of the like description of the different sensations and everything like. oof.

jessie [00:46:10] Yeah.

kelly [00:46:11] And of sizzling, lots of sizzling chemistry.

jessie [00:46:13] And it really stuck with me because I like there’s some things I’ve obviously forgotten about the book because I read it a while ago, and I don’t mean that in like, it was forgettable, just like I’ve read other things since then and I forgot.

kelly [00:46:24] A lot of other things! You are a book witch.

jessie [00:46:27] Exactly. But like the scene where Zafira is like cleaning up Nasir’s like head wound or whatever, like that stuck with me, like I remember. And I was just like, be together. I just want you to be together! So it was really good.

kelly [00:46:43] It reminds me very much of like a Kaz and Inej on the like, in the bathroom at the end of Crooked Kingdom.

jessie [00:46:51] Yeah see, I don’t remember that already. But it’s–

kelly [00:46:53] OK fine! [both laugh].

jessie [00:46:54]  it’s really hard for me to, like, keep all the book knowledge all at once. I can only keep it for a certain amount of time and then I need to move it over for other books.

kelly [00:47:05] And that’s why we create this

for posterity.

jessie [00:47:08] Yeah, exactly. I should just like listen to the episodes over. it would remind me about, you know, when we’re doing sequels and stuff. [kelly laughs].

kelly [00:47:15] Yeah, probably. We gotta study up.

jessie [00:47:17] Yeah.

transition [00:47:18] [jaunty string music plays]

jessie [00:47:24] Now we’re going to talk about writing style, narration, characterization, plot structure, and basically whatever else comes to mind in a segment called Kill Your Darlings.

kelly [00:47:33] I really admire Faizal’s writing style, especially her word choice and use of simile and metaphor. I thought that was really effective in just making super vivid images in my mind.

transition [00:47:49] [spellcasting sound]

kelly [00:47:53] One thing that bugged me in particular were the…Was the [pauses] dramatic [pauses] line breaks [pauses] every so often. So that was kind of fun– sometimes I thought they worked and other times those like, “OK, we didn’t. That wasn’t necessary here.” But that’s like super tiny. That one thing I wanted– that I, like, came to mind thinking about writing style in particular.

jessie [00:48:16] I did not even notice.

kelly [00:48:18] Seriously?

jessie [00:48:19] Yeah. It’s not like– [pauses someone did it like a tick tock video of all the times that, like Edward Cullen, like “chuckles” Like how it’s like Stephanie Meyer’s  like a favorite word.

kelly [00:48:30] [laughing] Yeeees! Oh, my God.

jessie [00:48:31] Which is funny because having read those books, like, I want to be like, “ya’ll have you seen how often she uses the word ‘kismet’?”, which is like not an word that people use very often. There are other words that are–.

kelly [00:48:42] I don’t even know what that word means.

jessie [00:48:43] It’s like–.

kelly [00:48:43] What does it mean?

jessie [00:48:46] It means like um like “fate”. Like it was fate. Like something was fated anyways. But she uses it a lot. And I’m like, I am not reading Midnight Sun. [laughs]

kelly [00:48:59] [lauging] Hell no! Also, it’s about a dude, so….

jessie [00:49:01] Oh yeah, well don’t.

kelly [00:49:02] –Like a basic dude who we know about.

jessie [00:49:04] Okay. Yeah, let’s do it. But if I could get like ACOM- ACA- ACOMAF [A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas]  from Rysand’s perspective, I would totally read that.

kelly [00:49:11] Oh totally!! No, no, no it’s not. Yeah, I would definitely read that.

jessie [00:49:15] Yeah.

kelly [00:49:16] Maybe, maybe SJM will help us out.

jessie [00:49:18] Yeah, probably not. And now I’m not so–

kelly [00:49:20] Probably not.

jessie [00:49:22] –confident in her abilities. [laughs].

kelly [00:49:25] We’ll see. We’ll see. I have hope for the Cassian-Nesta that’s coming.

jessie [00:49:30] Maybe I’ll feel better when I’m back in like a more familiar world where I don’t have to learn–

kelly [00:49:34] Yeah.

jessie [00:49:35] –everything over again. I don’t know.

kelly [00:49:37] Anyway, that’s not the book we’re talking about!

jessie [00:49:39] I know. I was gonna say that’s not what this episode is about. Obviously, I have feelings. Maybe I’ll write it up and put it on Patreon.

kelly [00:49:46] [laughing] Good idea.

transition [00:49:46] [spellcasting sound]

kelly [00:49:50] I thought that there was excellent banter. I also loved how Faizal wrote the stream of consciousness. How the character would be like her… I don’t know. “Sensitive mouth. Sensitive?” Like or like. “Why am I looking at her mouth?” Or something like that. I thought that those are really effective and cute mom– like moments where you got to connect with the characters. I really liked that.

jessie [00:50:15] I also thought that was really good. I really liked the interactions between the characters. I especially liked. um I especially liked Altair because he was always like, have these little quips ready.

kelly [00:50:27] oh my god. he’s the best!.

jessie [00:50:28] I know. I just really liked his interactions with all the characters. I’m really sad that he’s been, like, kidnaped now because I’m worried it’s gonna like, really affect him. And then he won’t be so quippy, you know?

kelly [00:50:41] I have a prediction. I think that it’s going to he’s going to be getting affected by his dad’s evil influence and then they’re going to have to free him, etc., etc.

jessie [00:50:49] Oh, yeah. That, I think for sure. I just. My concern is that he will not want to be freed because he will no longer be being trapped like Stockholm syndrome, you know?

kelly [00:51:01] Yeah, for sure.

transition [00:51:06] [spellcasting sound].

jessie [00:51:06] I also have to say I did not see it coming that Altair and Nasir would be brothers at all. For a moment, and I wrote this in my notes, I thought that Altair might have feelings for Nasir. So the way Fazil continually showed us that Altair does love Nasir was perfect because I thought they were setting up some kind of love triangle. But it was actually brotherly love the whole time. And like, looking back on it the way they interacted, I’m like, “oh, yeah, that’s totally siblings.” So I don’t know why I got like, can I. I mean, I guess love is love.

kelly [00:51:38] It makes total sense. Yeah. In retrospect, it makes total sense.

jessie [00:51:42] Yeah.

kelly [00:51:42] I agree with you. I wasn’t expecting that.

jessie [00:51:44] Yeah. Which I was really disappointed to myself because I feel like I could see things coming– like as soon as Deen was like “I’m going with you” I was like “he’s gonna die” [laughs].

jessie [00:51:52] you were like “adios”.

jessie [00:51:53] Yeah. .

kelly [00:51:54] Godspeed.

jessie [00:51:55] Yeah, i was like, “good luck in the afterlife, bro.” [laughs] But I did not see this coming at all so it was pretty. She she like wrote them really well. So much so that I thought that Altair loved him so like in a romantic way. [laughs] So yeah, I didn’t see that coming.

kelly [00:52:15] No, I didn’t either.

transition [00:52:15] [jaunty string music plays]

kelly [00:52:21] Recommend, if you like…

jessie [00:52:23] I’m trying to do better with the recommend, if you like. I’m literally going to a library school right now, so I feel like I should be better at this. So I have three recommend, if you likes [laughs]. First, I would say An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. It’s kind of also a travel-ish story with similar mythology like theifrits and enemies the lovers storyline. Second would be Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. There’s a mashup of characters from different backgrounds and some possible questionable morals. We’ll see. [kelly laughs] I don’t know if they’re questionable to me, but maybe to some other people. [kelly laughs again] And Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan. It’s also a travel story with possible enemies-to-lovers storyline. I haven’t read Ruthless Gods yet. I know it came out a little bit ago, just having gotten to it yet. Although I think her main character, who’s the male character who I can’t remember his name is like way worse than any of these characters, like morals-wise. But um, would recommend. Pretty good.

kelly [00:53:22] Excellent recommendations, book witch!

jessie [00:53:25] [chuckles] Thank you!

transition [00:53:25] [jaunty string music plays]

jessie [00:53:31] Before we end, it’s time for real talk. Did reading this book make your perspective change in any way, or did it make you interrogate a concept, trend or system you hadn’t before?

kelly [00:53:42] Let’s start with you, Jessie.

jessie [00:53:44] um just everything with Nasir. He was lied to by his mom, manipulated by his dad, and believes he is unworthy of any kind of love. And that was really heartbreaking because he obviously craves it so much. Like he’s always trying to get his on his dad’s good side, like he you know, he’s like did not kill Altair even though that’s obviously what his dad wanted because, like, that’s his other you know, that’s his brother, like his half brother. But still. [chuckles] So that’s– all of that was just like really hard and really shows the effects, I think, of like what child abuse can do to like your mental health and who you are as a person. It can be pretty difficult.

kelly [00:54:25] And how it affects the decis– just like the the course of your life. Or how it can.

jessie [00:54:29] Yeah, for sure. Mm hmm.

kelly [00:54:31] Yeah. Nasir basically got Dumbledore-d by his mom.

jessie [00:54:35] Yeah.

kelly [00:54:37] Except that worse because it’s his mom and not some random old guy.

jessie [00:54:43] Yeah.

kelly [00:54:44] But like literally raising him for this one purpose. Oof. That’s rough and not telling him about it. Being manipulated for so long by so many different people. Oof. so much pain. Oh, my gosh. Nasir’s storyline is one of the darkest, I think that we’ve… Uh Or on the darker end, I guess, I would say.

jessie [00:55:08] Yeah, it’s up there.

kelly [00:55:09] Some of the back stories we’ve encountered.

jessie [00:55:11] Yeah, yeah. And I don’t know if Gameq knows that Altair is Nasir’s brother. So if he does and he asks and, you know, Gameq asked Nasir to kill Altair, like like that’s a pretty shitty. Like he’s already terrible. But like on top of that, he’s like, yeah, kill your brother– who–it’s not like he doesn’t like he hates him or something, you know, like he obviously loves him. So I don’t know. It was just real rough. Do you have anything?

kelly [00:55:39] I don’t have anything this week.

jessie [00:55:40] That’s fine.

kelly [00:55:43] I just– wait, can I shout out how gorgeous the flipping book is? It is so beautiful. The typography. The like, it’s just beautiful.

jessie [00:55:57] Yeah. I probably would have read it on cover alone.

kelly [00:56:00] agreed.

jessie [00:56:04] Oh, we have a person to shout out! A patron on Patreon.

kelly [00:56:08] Hey, sweet! Our first patron!

jessie [00:56:11] Yeah! So by the time it comes out, who knows where things will be, but we have our first patron on Patron on Patreon: Jen thank you for so much for supporting us! We really appreciate it.

transition [00:56:22] [spellcasting sound]

kelly [00:56:26] Action item is take care of yourself, magical people.

jessie [00:56:30] Yeah, these are weird times. We know. I don’t know what the world will be like by the time this episode comes out. But, yeah, take care of your mental health, your physical health. Wash your fucking hands. Wear a mask if you need to go out–.

kelly [00:56:46] for fuck’s sake! [laughs]

jessie [00:56:46] –And, you know, stay six feet away from people,.

jessie [00:56:49] Wash your fucking hands. Can that be the subtitle to this episode? [laughs].

jessie [00:56:52] Yeah. Yeah. Wash your hands and like, don’t touch your face mask. Like, maybe we should include, like, how to properly deal with your face mask.

kelly [00:57:00] Oh my God! I have seen so many people touching their fucking face mask! and like that defeats the purpose.

jessie [00:57:06] Like you’re supposed to take it off by the loops and then throw it away. Or like if you’re washing your reusable ones, you know, put it in right already and then wash your hands. You know, there’s actually a CDC guidelines on how to properly change your mask or like take off your mouth.

kelly [00:57:19] I wash my hands before I put my mask on.

jessie [00:57:22] You should.

kelly [00:57:23] Before I take it off.

jessie [00:57:25] Yeah. And you need to wash it after you take it off. But anyways. Yeah.

kelly [00:57:28] Action item: learn how to wash your hands and put on a face mask properly. Boom.

jessie [00:57:32] There we go.

transition [00:57:33] [stacatto string music plays]

kelly [00:57:38] Thank you for listening to “JK, it’s magic”! We’ll be back in two weeks for a discussion of Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. As always, we’d love to be in conversation with you, magical folks. Let us know what you think of the episode, anything we missed or just say hi by dropping a line in the comments or by reaching out to us on Twitter or Instagram @jkmagicpod. You can post or tweet about the show using the #criticallyreading, and you can contact us via email at jkmagicpod (at) gmail dot com. You can subscribe to “JK, its magic” on the podcast app of your choice, and we’d really appreciate it if you would write and review the show and spread the word to other RAD readers out there.

jessie [00:58:17] If you’re interested in supporting “JK, it’s magic,” you can make a one-time donation to us on Ko-fi or you can support us monthly on Patron in exchange for minisodes, bonus eps, early eps and much, much more.

kelly [00:58:29] Kelly is recording on Cheyenne, Ute and Arapaho Land. Jessie is recording on Peoria, Kaskaskia, Peankashaw, Miami, Mascoutin, Odawa, Sak, Mesquaki, Kickapoo, Potawatomie, Ojibwe and Chickasaw Land.

kelly [00:58:50] Until next time, stay magical.

transition [00:58:51] [bright, whimsical music plays]

jessie [00:59:08] alright, Clap? one, two, three. [clapping sound].

kelly [00:59:13] Do it! let’s do it!

jessie [00:59:15] OK. It’s you! You’re starting. [laughs]

kelly [00:59:17] [laughing] OK, I gotta change my screen. I’m off to a good start.

jessie [00:59:23] Great start! You’re doing great. [both laugh]