Spoilery for the entire series - seriously. And you really don't want to get spoiled for this if there's any chance whatsoever that you might read it.

I remembered something about book six (The Broken Fortress) and re-read it, and...

...how the hell did Hale do that? I don't think I've ever come across this particular use of foreshadowing before, or at least not the way she did it.



What I had remembered was that it's the one where Ji tells Kahlil what happened immediately after Ravishan died. What I had not remembered was that she very explicitly tells him that Laurie was turned into an issusa'shim! And just in case we missed it the first time, Ji repeats that info several times.

I know that I knew at that point what the issusa'shim were. And I was not only paying attention on my first reading, but actively trying to fit the pieces together. And yet it completely went over my head, so much so that I recall hoping that Laurie hadn't been skeletonized, then being relieved, when we first see her, that she clearly hadn't, then later realizing that maybe it had been partial. What boggles me, in retrospect, is why I was wondering at all, because I'd already been very clearly told!

Not only that, but Ji also tells Kahlil Laurie's motivation - that she wanted to cross back into Nayeshi and reverse time - and that also fell so completely out of my head that by the time I got back to speculating on Laurie's motives, that never even occurred to me. But it had already been explicitly stated!

I find this enormously clever. I am also really curious 1) did that work on most readers or just me, 2) did Hale do this intentionally or was it a happy accident, 3) how did that even work?

For 2, I'm guessing it was intentional, as there are several other twists that work similarly, though not quite so spectacularly, and were more clearly misdirects.

For instance, we are told repeatedly, in different contexts, that John accidentally killed Ravishan. It's just that we've heard so much about Rifter powers exploding out of control, and even seen that happen - and we knew there was a gigantic cataclysm at the time of Ravishan's death - that it was natural to assume that John losing control of his powers was the cause of Ravishan's death, not the result of it.

But getting back to getting told exactly what happened to Laurie, but having it still come as a total surprise, the only thing I can think is that there wasn't enough context to have it sink in. I did know the issusa-shim were skeleton witches, but I think at that point we didn't know all the details. Maybe I thought that just being inducted into the convent made you an issusa-shim, and the skeletonizing came later or didn't happen to everyone. I think I also really, really didn't want to believe that happened to Laurie. I am pretty sure I finished that conversation thinking that Laurie had been taken to the convent, but that was it.

As for wanting to reverse time, again, I think there was a lack of context. We didn't know the extent of everything that had happened to her, which was what made time reversing such a compelling option and gave it emotional impact. There was also tons of complex information in scattered pieces, so my brain could probably only hold so much. I think either I didn't register the implications, or thought she came up with a new plan later (because reversing time didn't clearly fit with raising an army of skeletons).

But I am still boggled at how Hale told us exactly what happened, and yet still made it completely surprising.

In other matters, I now realize that poor Rousma was telepathically calling to Kahlil, and he didn't realize. I thought those were nightmares from the past, as did he, but no.

Also, the scenes were Wahroua (?) (I am finding many of the names very hard to remember), the Rifter priest, interacts with Kahlil read so differently when you know the context.

On first read, it's obvious that they have history and that this makes the priest one of Kahlil's few instant allies. On second read, I know that the priest busted his ass to try to save Ravishan's life after he got stabbed with the curse blade, and knew all about John and Ravishan's relationship, and then Ravishan died anyway, after everything and just days later. And then it's 30 years later and Ravishan is back... and the younger council members, who never knew him, are thinking of throwing him to the wolves for short-term political gain! No wonder the priest goes ballistic on them!

Those scenes are so poignant, on both reads. Kahlil is completely unsurprised when the council votes to turn him in, because why not? He's a nobody, a relic from a time that never happened, an assassin with one special skill that they don't even know about. His surprise and wary pleasure when Wahroua and then John stick up for him and protect him is really touching, both when you don't know the context and when you do.
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