I had a few delays getting this next book started, but here we are!
I have a special love for this book, because it was while I was drafting it that suddenly I realize it wasn’t going to be just two or three books.
It was supposed to be an entire series.
To my astonishment characters jumped up, storylines I didn’t recognize manifested on the page, and I was stunned to realize there was a lot, lot more going on.
Relf Shin had a dream, and I didn’t even know what it was until I typed it. Everything then changed in the direction of this series.
Drafting this was the most amazing and breath-taking part of writing. I’d wake up early in the morning to see what else would happen, and at night I’d edit to understand all that I had typed. I was fascinated how the words would download a sentence at a time, straight into my mind and to my fingers, then abruptly stop at 4pm, when I realized I was still a mom and had a family to make dinner for.
The flow would begin again after they kids were in bed, and usually shut off by 10pm (or I’d fall asleep at the computer). This book made me rewrite the first books and continue on for many more.
Because some of the chapters in this book are long, I’m breaking them up into hour-long chunks: Part A and Part B, both about an hour long.
In this chapter Pere is startled to realize that a lot has been going on that he’s not been aware of, but now that he is aware, he’s trying to fix them. He’s frustrated that he never questioned, never noticed. I’ve had that experience in my own life, surprised by what I realize should have been obvious. Makes me wonder what else I’m not noticing that I should, and I hope I notice with enough time to still do something about it.
What’s the best order for listening to the prequel in relation to the series? I didn’t really plan it, but after Book 2, “Soldier at the Door,” is a great place to start, because Perrin and Mahrree had been discussing Grandfather Pere Shin near the end. After Book 4, “Falcon in the Barn,” is also a great spot since at the end of that book are some fun revelations about some characters we meet here.
But if you want to START the series with this prequel, you certainly may. I’ll never tell you what to do. However, you’ll probably be a little confused and maybe lost, since I wrote this assuming people would have context from reading at least a couple of books. (I wrote this after the entire series.)
But seeing as how this is my shortest work, I completely understand why you may want to start with the least intimidating book. (Some of my books are kinda long so, yeah, I get that. Start easy. I once read a whole book not realizing there were two in the series before it, and I managed through it ok. I was quite disoriented sometimes, but that can be a fun way of reading: not realizing that the main character is actually a princess whose parents died a book before and left her a kingdom she can’t reach, and wondering why they keep referencing this weird place where the entirety of book one actually took place, but I figured it out, eventually . . .)
So go ahead—jump right in here first. See if you like this pool. If so, I have a small ocean for you to dive into next.
UPDATE: I originally had the wrong book uploaded for Chapter 24. That has been rectified. Book 2, Soldier at the Door, is now complete! The last two chapters are below, along with the most worrying lines I’ve ever written. And now, they feel even more applicable than ever:
“What if everything we believe is wrong?” Mahrree challenged.
Mahrree saw her poor neighbor’s eyes glaze over. Mrs. Hersh realized too late she’d been dragged into the discussion, and the dread in her eyes demonstrated a frantic desire to escape.
But there was also something else there: a sudden loyalty to her society that demanded no one step out of bounds. “Then we’re wrong together,” Mrs. Hersh decided. “Being united is important,” she said as if realizing she actually believed that. “What everyone thinks together is correct,” she reasoned out loud, “and so if you follow the crowd, you’ll never be wrong.”
Mahrree’s shoulders fell. How can you open someone’s eyes who holds them firmly shut, yet claims she sees just fine?
“It’s like the river,” Mrs. Hersh went on, emboldened by Mahrree’s discouraged silence. “Everything flows downstream. Simply . . . go with that flow. It’s just easier that way.”
Mahrree saw her way back in. “Fish don’t flow downstream.”
“Yes they do.”
“No, they don’t.”
Mrs. Hersh put her hands on her hips. “Why wouldn’t they?”
“Because then there’d be no more fish up here in Edge!” Mahrree pointed out. “I’ve seen them when I’ve taken my students to see the river, and when I’ve dragged my fishing husband home again. Many fish swim in the same spot, fighting the current. A few species even swim upstream, against everything pushing them to the southern ocean.”
Mrs. Hersh pondered for a moment. “That doesn’t make any sense. Why wouldn’t they just go with the flow of the river?”
“Because,” Mahrree tried not to sigh at her neighbor’s inanity, “maybe they don’t like where the river is going. Salty water at the end of it likely kills them.”
Mrs. Hersh squinted. “How would they know about the salty water? Besides, so what? At least they had an easy time getting to it. They’re going die eventually, so might as well go easily instead of fighting the current.”
And right then Mahrree realized, to her horror, that the Administrators had won.
Because as long as everyone else was doing it, you should too. Hold hands and jump off the crevice together, never questioning why.
“I’d rather fight the current,” Mahrree said quietly.
Me too, Mahrree.
Next I’ll be reading the prequel, The Walls in the Middle of Idumea, where we meet grandfather Pere Shin, the king’s servants, and a young Relf Shin.
Justification fascinates me: how does the mind slide over, a little at a time, to eventually convince itself that extreme action, such as causing someone’s death, is not only necessary but good? Is it because one can still see the “moral” argument from a distance, and so they believe that they if they are in reaching distance of it, they aren’t as far removed from ethical behavior as they seem to be?
How easily is this justification then applied to other matters, such as ostracizing someone from society for holding firm to a belief that others used to embrace, but now have also sidled away from?
Just musing here, not applying this to anything in the real world whatsoever . . .
[Also, The hardest two words for my stutter to work around are “shoulders sagged.” I see those words coming and I start to panic, wondering why in the world I wrote such a lip-whipping line. (I’m not going to try to say that out loud, either: “lip-whipping line.”)]
Be ready for my ranting, via Mahrree, about how schools should be. I was a homeschooling mom for many years, and am now a full-time high school English teacher, but teach in private schools rather than public. My three youngest kids, however, now attend public schools, but for how long, I don’t know.
I’ve been immensely blessed to be able to teach pretty much how and what I want in schools. I make sure all the standards are covered, but I try to bring in the love of books and language, not the drudgery of worksheets and memorization.
No children are ever at the same level of readiness, no test will ever effectively evaluate a child’s learning, and no teacher can make learning happen if the children–and their parents–aren’t all working together. I know exactly how I’d design a school, working with and for parents and kids, accommodating both part-time and full-time students, and some day in Zion/Salem, I hope to implement it.
Kids don’t need to be force-fed learning. They naturally love it!
UPDATE: My friend RJ pointed out I hadn’t mentioned chapter 4 was up! Numbers always are problematic for me. That’s why I teach English and not math. I’ve included chapter 4 here.
Bronchitis eased up enough for me to read 42 minutes at a time before my lungs said, “They really want to hear your barking seal impression–here we go!” Fortunately I could splice these very long chapters together with Wondershare. The first I did before stomach flu/eastern virus struck at the beginning of the month, the second last night.
As I read last night, I was again struck with how much Edge and Idumea resemble America today.The government exists only because we pay for it; without us, they are nothing. And our children aren’t their responsibility, they are ours. The Creator/our God has given them to us parents as a stewardship, not to the government. I’m encouraged to see parents standing up around the country to school boards complaining about questionable teaching practices.
There’s an ancient saying that vaguely sounds like a nicety, but is actually a curse, and we’re definitely living it now: “May you live in interesting times.”
I feel deeply it’s only going to get more interesting. We’ll make it through together!