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In this chapter we dig into the question of “what’s going on?” in greater detail. However, rather than it be Exposition Chapter Part 2, this does something slightly different – and hopefully more interesting.

For starters, it’s called ‘Beware of old gods’, which immediately sets the tone. The chapter title jars with the sense of wonder and relief in the previous three chapters and sets up the unease which permeates throughout, leading up to the sudden confrontation at the end.

Then there’s the choice of Tranton as narrator perspective for this chapter: this immediately produces a more cynical attitude and also firmly embeds an ‘outsider’ perspective.

What we really have here is the semi-mythical lore presented in ‘A new truth’, of a saviour god coming to save the day, being subverted by this subsequent chapter and their encounter with Aera herself. It’s a good argument for why meeting your gods is never a good idea.

If there was a sense in ‘A new truth’ that I’d embarked on a part of the story which would neatly reveal everything, hopefully this chapter undoes that and throws up a note of caution. If a character comes along with all the answers – like Akila, for example – don’t assume that they are trustworthy. This isn’t Lord of the Rings, in which the more ethereal, higher beings tend to be entirely ‘good’.

The point of the previous chapter being ‘A new truth’ was that these are multiple truths, and figuring out what’s really going on is up to the reader.

We have talk of an Avian hierarchy of sorts in this chapter. I’ll be getting into what that actually means soon enough, but I thought it might be interesting to simply list the levels of that hierarchy. I’m not going to detail what they signify, but feel free to speculate:


And, yes, I do have an entire section in my notes called ‘Aviar culture’.

As for Aera herself, here she’s depicted in the classic sci-fi tradition of being part of the machine – though we’re not sure what that exactly means, yet. Her dialogue exists in a quasi-mythical position: in other words, she sounds like you’d expect an all-powerful god being to sound. This is not an accident. She’s someone that all our characters – and readers – should be paying very close attention to.

Note, also, that she refers to Kraisa in a gender neutral fashion: ‘they’, instead of ‘he’ or ‘she’. Previously characters have referred to Kraisa as a woman, but evidently Aera knows something they don’t. The bigger problem is that it seems that even Aera doesn’t know WHO Kraisa is. Fenris, I think, has always assumed that reaching Aviar would deliver all the answers and solutions: that’s really not going to be the case.

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