July 13th, 2013

“The Raven King” by Nora Sakavic . [book 2 of the All For One trilogy] . [N7,5


First, this is the sequel to ‘The Foxhole Court’ and there is no point in you reading it without reading that, which is *free*, first.

I do feel The Raven King is weaker, overall, than The Foxhole Court, the introductory chapter with all the backstory infodump seriously worried me (it’s cool to write a sequel, it helps nobody to give a few reminders of who everybody is, if you really must, make a character index but don’t bog the narrative down. It’s not helpful to completely new readers and it feels super awkward to your fans) and the story is so captivating I had forgotten the writing is not 10 points, which is not to say it's bad either, of course, just not as graceful and polished as it could be. Plot wise I am mightily impressed, though, maybe because I am not a plot person and this was not simply well thought logistically but had lots of character development embedded into it. The way the relationships and the development fed each other was... awesome. For me, Andrew sometimes toed the line characterisation wise, but of course there is a coherence to madness and instability and Neil is far from understanding what makes him tick. I’m dying to see him sober.


[Spoiler (click to open)]

I am not sure about the ending, why do they let Neil leave? Is it a scheme to return him super fucked up so he can fuck up the Foxes in turn? And how does he get anywhere if he's so out of it? I got the feeling they actually sent him a return ticket in the first place, was that to fuck with him?

The Andrew-Neil relationship is getting way more interesting, too, like, Andrew is still insane but he's no longer impenetrable to Neil (Nathaniel is such a pretty name, and I hate Abraam. In any case I wonder about all the Biblical names, do they mean anything?). Of course, now that Neil's opening up I don't see how much longer he's going to be able to function at all, with everything he's been repressing and for how long... I was also totally with Kevin when they wanted to put Andrew away and I felt like the worst person ever when I really thought about it but... EZY. I care way too much about this stupid sport that doesn't even exist.


"Oh, you just might be the best thing to happen to the Foxes."

"I doubt that."

"I don't." Nicky beamed as he let go of Neil. "How did you do it?"

Neil neatly excised ninety percent of the truth and said, "I asked."


Poem: There's No Islands, Any More by Edna St. Vincent Millay


Very sad... I'm not sure if it's sadder that there are no islands or that people didn't (and don't realise) because we all need our islands so badly, to be alone, to hide, to recover somehow after facing a world that does not give a fuck.

The poem:[Spoiler (click to open)]


'There Are No Islands, Any More'


"Lines Written in Passion and in Deep Concern for England, France and My Own Country"

Dear Isolationist, you are

So very, very insular!

Surely you do not take offense?-

The word's well used in such a sense.

'Tis you, not I, sir, who insist

You are an Isolationist.

And oh, how sweet a thing to be

Safe on an island, not at sea!

(Though some one said, some months ago-

I heard him, and he seemed to know;

Was it the German Chancellor?

"There are no islands anymore.")

Dear Islander, I envy you:

I'm very fond of islands, too;

And few the pleasures I have known

Which equaled being left alone.

Yet matters from without intrude

At times upon my solitude:

A forest fire, a dog run mad,

A neighbor stripped of all he had

By swindlers, or the shrieking plea

For help, of stabbed Democracy.

Startled, I rise, run from the room,

Join the brigade of spade and broom;

Help to surround the sickened beast;

Hear the account of farmers fleeced

By dapper men, condole, and give

Something to help them hope and live;

Or, if democracy's at stake,

Give more, give more than I can make;

And notice, with a rueful grin,

What was without is now within.

(The tidal wave devours the shore:

There are no islands any more.)

With sobbing breath, with blistered hands,

Men fight the forest fire in bands;

With kitchen broom, with branch of pine,

Beat at the blackened, treacherous line;

Before the veering wind fall back,

With eyebrows burnt and faces black;

While breasts in blackened streams perspire.

Watch how the wind runs with the fire

Like a broad banner up the hill-

And can no more... yet more must still.

New life!-To hear across the field

Voices of neighbours, forms concealed

By smoke, but loud the nearing shout:

"Hold on! We're coming! Here it's out!"

(The tidal wave devours the shore:

There are no islands any more.)

This little life from here to there-

Who lives it safely anywhere?

Not you, my insulated friend:

What calm composure will defend

Your rock, when tides you've never seen

Assault the sands of What-has-been,

And from your island's tallest tree,

You watch advance What-is-to-be?

(The tidal wave devours the shore:

There are no islands any more.)

Sweet, sweet, to see the tide approach,

Assured that it cannot encroach

Upon the beach-peas, often wet

With spray, never uprooted yet.

The moon said-did she not speak true?-

"The waves will not awaken you.

At my command the waves retire.

Sleep, weary mind; dream, heart's desire."

And yet, there was a Danish king

So sure he governed everything

He bade the ocean not to rise.

It did. And great was his surprise.

No man, no nation, is made free

By stating it intends to be.

Jostled and elbowed is the clown

Who thinks to walk alone in town.

We live upon a shrinking sphere-

Like it or not, our home is here;

Brave heart, uncomprehending brain

Could make it seem like home again.

(There are no islands any more.

The tide that mounts our drowsy shore

Is boats and men-there is no place

For waves in such a crowded space.

Oh, let us give, before too late,

To those who hold our country's fate

Along with theirs-be sure of this-

In grimy hands-that will not miss

The target, if we stand beside

Loading the guns-(resentment, pride,

Debts torn across with insolent word-

All this forgotten, or deferred

At least until there's time for strife

Concerning things less dear than Life;

Than let, if must be, in the brain

Resentment rankle once again,

Quibbling and Squabbling take the floor,

Cool Judgment go to sleep once more.)

On English soil, on French terrain,

Democracy's at grips again

With forces forged to stamp it out

This time no quarter!-since no doubt.

Not France, not England's what's involved,

Not we, --there's something to be solved

Of grave concern to free men all:

Can Freedom stand? -Must Freedom fall?

(Meantime, the tide devours the shore:

There are no islands any more.)

Oh, build, assemble, transport, give,

That England, France and we may live,

Before tonight, before too late,

To those who build our country's fate

In desperate fingers, reaching out

For weapons we confer about,

All that we can, and more, and now!

Oh, God, let not the lovely brow

Of Freedom in the trampled mud

Grow cold! Have we no brains, no blood,

No enterprise-no any thing

Of which we proudly talk and sing,

Which we like men can bring to bear

For Freedom, and against Despair?

Lest French and British fighters, deep

In battle, needing guns and sleep,

For lack of aid be overthrown

And we be left to fight alone.

The New York Times is indebted to Edna St. Vincent Millay, distinguished poetess, for the poem printed above, which she has submitted to several newspapers