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Topic: August BOM- Black Ships Discussion: Pages 104- 205

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Subject: August BOM- Black Ships Discussion: Pages 104- 205
Date Posted: 8/1/2008 10:38 AM ET
Member Since: 3/18/2007
Posts: 782
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The second discussion section.

Date Posted: 8/2/2008 1:34 PM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
Posts: 2,446
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I initially really liked this book and have started reading through it pretty quickly.  Now that I am a ways into the story, the one thing that is really starting to bother me is that the black ships and their passengers and crew are heading to all these wonderful islands, lands etc and the author is doing very little with them as far as the plot goes.  Maybe she should have expanded her story more to include more about each location.  I get a feeling of a travelogue-first they went here, then they stopped here etc.  I feel that there could have been some great stories told!

Date Posted: 8/2/2008 10:12 PM ET
Member Since: 3/18/2007
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Oh no Cheryl! I haven't had the chance to start the book yet, but I was really hoping to have some gaps left in Lavinia filled in for me. Since that book is focused mostly on Aeneas' later life with only mention of his earlier adventures, I was hoping this book would describe in detail just how those adventures occurred. I hope it gets better!

Date Posted: 8/3/2008 9:06 AM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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I think the two books compliment one another well. I didn't have the same reaction to Black Ships as Cheryl. I enjoyed the travel scenes and I thought there was lots of action. Aren't differences of opinion wonderful?! :)



Last Edited on: 8/3/08 9:06 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/3/2008 11:04 AM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
Posts: 2,446
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I am getting a little more hopeful again now that the story is in Egypt.  I loved the beginning of the novel so much with the whole concept of becoming "Pythia" and being touched by the goddess that I felt the early travel parts really lacking.  I hope the rest of the book continues strongly plot wise.



Last Edited on: 8/3/08 11:05 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/5/2008 10:31 AM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2005
Posts: 1,080
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I am up to page 104 so far I am enjoying the book.

Date Posted: 8/7/2008 9:20 AM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
Posts: 1,356
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I am still not captivated by this book yet.

 

Sybil, as she is now known, is maturing, and in her nascent yearnings for Xandros that she does not understand fully, and is beginning to understand the bargain that was struck for her at the time of her accident.  The author continues, in a simplistic way, the tension between Sybil and Xandros--but is it me, or does it seem fairly obvious to anyone else that she and Neas are better suited for each other, and that the 'son yet unborn'  of Neas' who will found the new city is likely to be hers and Neas'?

 

I'm curious as to the significance of Sybil's encounter with Mik-el, Xandros' young 'god-protector'--I cannot figure out why that encounter has been included...

I'm also pondering what Xandros' bringing the young Ashteret along with the People when they depart Byblos for Egypt foretells--and I think it's just too convenient and starkly pointed out, that Ashteret's life was traded by the gods for Tia's baby's.  Too simplistic and obvious for me.  Which is one of my reactions overall to this book--it's choppy and obvious in its constructs--I crave more subtelty in writing.  And I continue to thirst for historical detail instead of travelogue.  So far, it's all action, as Cheryl M has noted--I'm longing for rich detail, subltety and less obvious/less conventional messaging.

 



Last Edited on: 8/7/08 9:35 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/9/2008 12:14 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,755
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I just now crossed over in this territory.  After getting some reading done yesterday, I'm now on p. 182. 

My first question is, ummmm, why did they just all of a sudden start calling Gull "Sybil?"  There was no explanation for that, unless I missed it.  No one seems to call her Pythia, which I thought was what her name was since She Who Was Pythia died. Is it that Pythia was the Achaians' name for the Lady of the Dead and Sybil is the Wilusans' name for her? 

Second, what's up with Xandros?  Apparently he's bi-sexual?  I believe at one point in the book Gull speculated that perhap Xandros and Neas had shared more than just boyhood friendship.  Then there was Ashterah.  As I understand it, Ashterah was a eunuch.  I notice Xandros referred to Ashterah as "her" and others seemed to too when speaking to Xandros but away from Xandros they called Ashterah "he."  Apparently Xandros had a relationship with Ashterah.  I suppose it wasn't uncommon for men in those days to marry and have children yet carry out homosexual relationships too.  Heck, it happens today.  I'm certainly not judging, I'm just trying to make sure I'm reading it right.  Forgive me for being dense enough to have to seek clarification.  LOL! 

I too am wondering if there's any significance to Gull's encounter with Mik-el or if  we will see Mik-el again later.  I thought it was interesting how he responded to Gull's questions about what was happening in the world.  He was telling her, basically, that it was a scientific thing and he alluded to shifting plates, icebergs, and told her she wouldn't understand.  I'm sure back then it was much easier to believe an island was destroyed by a vengeful God rather than a naturally-occuring volcano.  LOL! 

I'm looking forward to seeing what happens now that they are in Eygypt.  I did like their solution to the dilemma they were in - having to either join Neoptolemos or try to fight their way out of Byblos.  Pretty clever. 

So far I like the book.  I guess I wouldn't say it's "awesome" or a must read, but it's definitely readable. 



Last Edited on: 8/9/08 12:19 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/13/2008 9:12 AM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
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I'm having a terrible time getting into this one. I don't even know exactly what the problem is, but it's becoming a chore to read. Actually, I think the main problem for me may be the writing. It isn't flowing very well for me, and I'm finding it slow and a bit dull. I'm kind of disappointed because I really thought I'd love this book. Now, this book isn't as much of a chore to read as The Aeneid...! I seriously considered running away the summer we were reading it at home. ;-)

I think Gull is being called Sybil now because that is what the people of Wilusa called the Lady of the Dead in their lands. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong here! I'm having a hard time paying attention to this one, and my memory may be faulty about this. ;-)

I'm at about page 150. Does it get better?

Date Posted: 8/13/2008 10:53 AM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
Posts: 2,446
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Alas, not really Valli.

Date Posted: 8/13/2008 1:21 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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Re Sybil, she changes names with the weather. The author doesn't really explain why that is unless I missed the explanation.

Sorry to hear you're not liking this one. But I'd say, if you don't like by page 150, the rest of the book isn't going to make a difference.

Date Posted: 8/13/2008 7:10 PM ET
Member Since: 7/21/2008
Posts: 437
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I had a really difficult time getting into this one as well, Valli, and considered not finishing it.  I ended up forcing myself to pick it up on the flight to Tokyo yesterday, and I'm now up to page 350.  It did start to hold my attention more after I got about 1/3 of a way through it.  I agree that the story did not flow well at all at the beginning, but it gets a bit better/faster to ready (or I've just gotten more used to it)!

Shelley - I also don't quite get the Xandros/Ashterah relationship.  Someone did briefly mention that he/she was a enunuch at one point, but then it seems everyone refers to her as "she", and describe her as a beautiful 15 year old girl.  My take is that he is still in so much pain from losing his family that he is seeking comfort from this pain in Ashterah...a way to get release, yet not have  the risk of giving full commitment yet to a woman.

Date Posted: 8/13/2008 8:22 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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a way to get release, yet not have  the risk of giving full commitment yet to a woman.

I think this is the point of Ashterah. How the author deals with her is telling. But I'm not sure if Shelley's reached that part yet.

Michelle, I can't imagine a worse fate than being stuck on a flight to Tokyo with a book you don't like. How many hours is that? Around 13? Shudder.

Date Posted: 8/13/2008 8:37 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,755
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Genie - I just finished the book, and I'm not sure I quite yet understand Ashterah's significance to Xandros.  I'll post over at the other thread for the last part of the book.  I liked this book, but I certainly didn't love it.

Date Posted: 8/14/2008 7:36 PM ET
Member Since: 7/21/2008
Posts: 437
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Genie, believe it or not I don't mind the flight - it's actually a good excuse to relax, and I got a first class upgrade which is very nice internationally (full beds).  And I actually started to get more into Black Ships at the end.  The worst part is the layovers - 5 hours in Chicago and 4 in Tokyo, then one more 4 hour flight to Taipei.

Date Posted: 8/14/2008 7:45 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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Good grief, girlfriend! You must be exhausted! Was I even close to guessing the number of hours for the flight (13)?