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Topic: August BOM- Black Ships Discussion: Pages 1- 103

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Subject: August BOM- Black Ships Discussion: Pages 1- 103
Date Posted: 8/1/2008 10:37 AM ET
Member Since: 3/18/2007
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Okay, so I decided to do things a little differently for this month's Book of the Month discussion. Since very few, if any of us, actually read along with the schedule last month, I have decided to split the book into four sections. As we read each section we can post to the appropriate discussion thread. This way those of us who finish the book earlier than others can still discuss as we read, and those people who read slower or wish to read just a little each week can still post and read the discussions without spoilers.

 

Enjoy the book everyone!

Date Posted: 8/1/2008 10:45 AM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
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Good idea! I need to start reading.

Date Posted: 8/2/2008 7:27 AM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
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Sounds good. I no longer have the book, but I'll try to stay in line (she says while crossing fingers behind her back).

Date Posted: 8/2/2008 9:07 AM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
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Perfect solution, Jennifer--I'll be cracking the pages, smelling the new ink, later this week...

Date Posted: 8/2/2008 9:54 AM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2005
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Great Idea Jen:)

Date Posted: 8/2/2008 10:53 AM ET
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I just started Black Ships that was a mistake. I do not want to put it down. I need to get into the shower and then start my school work. I have 3 tests to take and homework to finish for school.

Date Posted: 8/2/2008 12:16 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
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Poor Anne. I hate it when life encroaches on my reading time.

BTW, I'm glad to see you joining us!

Date Posted: 8/2/2008 12:33 PM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2005
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Thanks Gene I glad I will be joining all of you too. I am off to take my tests. Talk to you later.

Date Posted: 8/5/2008 10:09 AM ET
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I have just had the time to really get started on this one, but I've read about 100 pages now, and I'm really enjoying it.

Hi Anne!

Date Posted: 8/5/2008 10:30 AM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2005
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I am up to page 104 so far I am enjoying the book.

 

Hi Valli

Date Posted: 8/5/2008 11:30 AM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
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Ok, I'm not yet finished the first hundred pages yet, but here are some of my preliminary reactions and thoughts on what I have read so far:

Unlike some of the others, I'm not hooked yet...it's still feeling a little jerky and pieced together to me. I do like Graham's prose, it is sparse and spare....but I'm feeling like it is TOO sparse and spare in some places.  Maybe this will resolve as/when I get hooked and the story is a bit more unfolded.

I'm finding it kind of vague on the time it's set in---I suppose I could go and research the likely years that it is set in but I found it unsettling that Graham gives no date context or otherwise contextualizes it--for example, giving us background that includes  a well known war/invasion/event--to help us place it.  I get that it's in the Trojan War era, but I'm unsatisfied that I've placed it in hisotry.  Even a date at the beginning of the first chapter would help.

What do you all think about Gull's first vision? Pretty dramatic for one as young as she--on command, at exactly the right time when she needed to show that she had the sight, and then, a dramatic, long and complete vision---I'm more used to characters with the sight to have cloudy visions and not really understand what the power they possess is--maybe other authors have all fallen into the same pattern, but Gull's left me feeling like it was a little contrived and abrupt to believe.

Have you all come across the two oracles, Lady of the Dead and Lady of the Sea before in Greek mythology/pantheons? I've not, and would love Graham, again, to have given me some context as to where they fit.  Perhaps I've just not read enough yet.

 

I am enjoying the story so far and don't mean to be negative; I just wanted to post in sort of real time--I plan to go back later after reading further and test my earlier reactions.

Date Posted: 8/5/2008 1:08 PM ET
Member Since: 6/1/2007
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What do you all think about Gull's first vision? Pretty dramatic for one as young as she--on command, at exactly the right time when she needed to show that she had the sight, and then, a dramatic, long and complete vision---I'm more used to characters with the sight to have cloudy visions and not really understand what the power they possess is--maybe other authors have all fallen into the same pattern, but Gull's left me feeling like it was a little contrived and abrupt to believe.

Have you all come across the two oracles, Lady of the Dead and Lady of the Sea before in Greek mythology/pantheons? I've not, and would love Graham, again, to have given me some context as to where they fit.  Perhaps I've just not read enough yet.

I too thought how convenient but I guess it was just a matter of her being in the right surroundings to be able to have the vision right then??  Like maybe before when she was in the fields it was just something she wouldn't tap into there??  I dunno.  I am in my overanalyze every sentence I read thing now because thats what we're doing in my LIT class :)

I have not come across the two oracles in Greek Mythology before but then the brunt of my knowledge in this area comes from watching Hercules and Xena religiously so that probably doesn't help



Last Edited on: 8/5/08 9:36 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/5/2008 3:42 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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I'm finding it kind of vague on the time it's set in

That could be because Virgil was inexact about the date Troy fell in the Aeneid. Some of the Web sites I checked said that 1184 BC is the accepted year. However, I agree that a modern fictionalization should find a way to reveal the setting even if it's in the author's note at the end. I don't recall whether Graham mentions it there.

To be clear, Black Ships takes place after the fall of Troy. Aeneas is searching for a new city for his people.

What do you all think about Gull's first vision?

The whole idea of visions and speaking to gods and such makes me suspend belief. My profession has ruined me. (:

Have you all come across the two oracles, Lady of the Dead and Lady of the Sea before in Greek mythology/pantheons?

Not in Greek mythology, but in Aztec mythology. The Lady of the Dead is another name for Mictecacihuatl. Look at the definition on Wikipedia and see how similar it is to Graham's portrayal of the Lady in Black Ships. I wonder if this is intentional.

Date Posted: 8/5/2008 8:48 PM ET
Member Since: 7/21/2008
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Genie - I also have a hard time with fantasy, visions, suspending belief.  My boyfriend always gets angry at me for reading too much into things.  But I have an engineering degree....I can't help myself!

I also am having a hard time getting into this one.  I would have liked Graham to provide more context, and so far it seems to me like she is jumping around a bit too much from thought to thought.  As Holly says, so far everything seems very convenient.  However, I am trying to reserve judgement until I get a bit more into it.

Date Posted: 8/6/2008 9:32 AM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
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I assumed the simplistic writing was due to the fact that Gull is a child right now. Does it get better later on?

I don't have a problem suspending belief in a fiction book. There has to be something really crazy, like Henry the 8th driving a car on his way to an execution, for me to have an issue with it. With fantasy, I expect there to be some off the wall things happening. With fiction and fantasy, I just want an entertaining story.

I really liked the premise of this book because this is not a time period or subject I've read a lot about, and I am finding it an enjoyable story, but it's not calling my name to be picked up and read constantly. You can definitely tell that this is a first novel and I really hope her next book, Hand of Isis, shows some growth. It sounds really good, and I'm definitely going to give it a try.

Genie, the info you found on the Aztec mythology is interesting! Does Jenning's book, Aztec, mention the Lady of the Dead?

Date Posted: 8/6/2008 11:26 AM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
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I didn't really have an issue with how Gull became Pythia's acolyte and her seeing a vision right when she arrived.  It is a fantasy story as opposed to a more fictionalized version of history and some types of fantasy do have a formula they follow; more or less.  This isn't that unusual in this genre.  I had more of an issue with the weak plot structure!

Date Posted: 8/6/2008 1:04 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
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Does Jenning's book, Aztec, mention the Lady of the Dead?

I don't think so, although there's a smattering of mythology in it. I studied Spanish and history in college, plus I took a lot of literature courses. I ended up doing a 5-year undergraduate degree with 2 majors, so somewhere in there, I ran into the Aztec myth stuff. I couldn't remember her name, but I remembered the Day of the Dead connection.

Oh, plus, I spent 30 days in the Mexico City area - this was back in 1983 or so - where I toured the pyramids, Chupultapec Castle, the archeological museum and digs in Chupultapec, and the like.

Date Posted: 8/6/2008 2:28 PM ET
Member Since: 6/1/2007
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Well I just passed the 100 page mark last night and so far I like it.  Its not one of the ones screaming "pick me up and read me" but it is definitely a good enough story to keep going.  I notice there is more mention of her womanly feelings toward Aeneas and I am hoping it does not get too "romancy". 

Date Posted: 8/6/2008 10:57 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
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Well, I think I'm up to like page 50, LOL!  Thankfully there were no spoilers here as I decided it was time to jump into the discussion.  I like the book, but things like visions, mythology, oracles, etc. intrigue me.  I have no problem believing these things are possible.  Yes, Gull's first vision was quite abrupt and complete, but who am I to judge visions when I've never had one.  LOL!  But, I can see where it would be problematic for some, and I totally understand where you guys are coming from. 

I too was wondering exactly what the Lady of the Dead was.  The Lady of the Sea I can understand without much explanation - she, obviously controls the sea.  However, what's the deal with the Lady of the Dead?  At first I thought she was some sort of sun type goddess as doesn't it say when she goes below the Earth shrivels or something.  Sorry, I can't remember exactly, but it seemed to me that the when the Lady of the Dead  was "up," it was summer or a time of growth.  That, however, seems strange since one wouldn't think of a sun or growth type goddess to be called Lady of the Dead.  I'm off to check the link Genie gave, but if anyone has any thoughts, I'd love to hear them.

I also kind of like the simplistic writing style and the lack of not a ton of detail.  Sometimes Iike it when authors gloss over a year or two.  LOL!  To me it seems that she is writing in Gull's style, which is to be very direct when she has something to say and not talk unnecessarily when she doesn't.  If that makes sense. 

Speaking of reading, I'm off to do some now before it's time for bed! 

Date Posted: 8/7/2008 7:39 AM ET
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but who am I to judge visions when I've never had one.  LOL!

I'm not going to say it. I'm not! Oh, I can't help it! LOL!

I know a couple of street drugs that'll give you some insight into Gull's gift. ;-)

Date Posted: 8/7/2008 9:12 AM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
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so now I'm well past page 103, and did find it was 'hooking' me a little more by the time I had the first 103 pages under my belt.  I find it an interesting notion that the People's oracle doesn't always speak divinely, that she 'fakes' it with her own common sense--I chuckle each time she does that--if only her People knew!

Date Posted: 8/7/2008 2:46 PM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
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Shelley:  I think the "Lady of the Dead" referred to is the Persephone/Proserpine goddess who was abducted by Hades and has to spend half the year with her husband in the land of the dead.  The other half of the year she returns above ground and her mother Demeter is waiting for her and spring returns etc.

Date Posted: 8/7/2008 8:06 PM ET
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Cheryl's right. There's a scene with her later in the book. It's either during this scene or in the author's note at the end that Graham refers to her as Persephone.

Date Posted: 8/7/2008 10:23 PM ET
Member Since: 3/18/2007
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I made it to page 103 during my break at work today and I am really enjoying the book so far. I confess, not a lot has happened, and the ship/ storm scene seemed to go on FOREVER, but I like the setting and the "feel" of the book. I am definitely looking forward to seeing how everything is wrapped up in the end and whether we get to see Gull as an old woman. It seems like foreshadowing that by the end of this section she has already selected as her successor the bastard child of one of the women she helped return to her people. So far so good!

Date Posted: 8/8/2008 10:40 AM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
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Genie:  Do you know which person/aspect is the goddess of fertility?  Is it Demeter the mother or Persephone the daughter or both?  I just remember the basics not the details.

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