Almost two decades ago I started Obernewtyn when I was 8/9 years old. So I can truly say that I grew up with Elf, to the extent of being a similar age to Elspeth as the series was published. I love this series so much and perhaps I never will love another quite as much because the nostalgia I have from the series being part of my life for so long/in my formative years can never be replicated.
Unfortunately real life prevented me from doing the re-read I had planned and suddenly it was the weekend before TRQ release. So I challenged myself to read the 6 books + short story in the 5 days remaining (I did not succeed, but got pretty close). It was great to be able to revisit the Obernewtyn world after so long. At that time I attended all TRQ events in Sydney. Then I procrastinated opening TRQ because that would be the end of my journey with Elspeth and all the possibilities the Obernewtyn series has always held. As others have mentioned, I even paced my reading of TRQ to be able to savour every new revelation.
I have really enjoyed reading everyone’s comments and what we all picked up on. Most of it I agree with.Mistakes/errors:
A ridiculous number for a published book (I have a list of 21 obvious ones and others have mentioned ones I missed) which sometimes prevented me from immersing myself in the story. Overall, I am disappointed that the editor did not do an adequate job.
IC seemed to insinuate that she felt rushed by the publishers and it’s a shame that this is reflected in the quality of the final product. As someone else mentioned, I would have preferred to wait for a more polished version. This is the last book, there are no 'do overs'.Elder:
• I like the call back to TF with Astyanax. Also, the symmetry of all the Elder being female, apart from the first and last Elder. This is paralleled with Hannah’s descendants being all female until Rushton (everything changes in the time of the Seeker).
• However, Astyanax did nothing to help Elspeth with her quest.Beforetimers:
• I do not think Elspeth (or the reader) has any evidence that the Beforetimers bred the taint-devouring insects in the water of Whelmer dam. There is no proof.
• I loved Dameon’s passage (pg 601) reflecting on why the Beforetimers strove to make more weapons. I think this is a key difference between the Obernewtyn chronicles and the other post-apocalypse young adult fiction which normally focuses on overcoming totalitarian rule. For the Obernewtyn chronicles, while the totalitarian Council/Herders were overthrown, the main story was always Elspeth’s quest to destroy the Beforetimers weapons/over come their mistakes. Habitat:
• We start the book being told it would be terrible for Elspeth to be in cryo. But in hindsight why would Elspeth being in cryo have been so bad? If Elspeth had gone under like everyone else she would have been resurrected in Habitat within a few months, this probably would have been quicker than what did end up happening.
• Loved the biological details of Habitat. As soon as I read ‘blood offering’ I realised that GOD takes blood samples to check DNA/genetic relatedness so that the pair is okay for the breeding program. Also, we are told that Habitat was built to hold a population of 500 and this is a magic number to retain genetic diversity in a captive population for conservation programs. Also, specimen ids for each human (and on their grave markers)!
• I do not understand why IC used a rapist story (pg 73) to explain Habitat’s punishment structure. It just wasn’t logical. If these people think ‘God’ is always watching and will punish if they step out of line then I find it hard to believe that any rational person would go about doing anything ‘bad’.
• Overall I liked Habitat. Learning about their unknown society was interesting and harkened back to learning about Obernewtyn in the first book. However, it was too big a part of TRQ. Since arriving at the Quadrants at the end of the last book it takes until page 524 for Elspeth to make any progress in her quest. That is a bit ridiculous.Hannah x2:
• I am very glad I read ‘The Dark Road’ before TRQ. Hannah Jr.’s story makes many things regarding the Pellmar Quadrants much clearer than Elspeth understands things.
• We are told Hannah Jr. had the authorisation codes for God. These codes must have been written in her mother’s letter. Also, it was mentioned that her mother had visited the Quadrants earlier in her life so that must be when Hannah Sr. obtained this info.
• However, Hannah Jr. setup key features of the Quadrants and left many clues for Elsepth. I find it hard to believe/impossible that Hannah Sr. could fit all of God codes/instructions, cryo steps, grave steps, sign steps and Habitat steps into the letter she left for Hannah Jr. long before. Could Hannah Jr. also be a futureteller?Elspeth:
• When has Elspeth ever been seen to be or needed to be a strong fighter? (pg 266):
one of the best he has ever trained in spite of yourself
• I found it ironic that we learn Erin wanted both Rushton and Gilbert, but they both loved Elspeth.
• Elspeth leaving Rushton as a slave must have been one of the hardest things ever. I loved Elspeth's scene with Swallow when she says that she has no choice but to leave him.
• I quite liked the explanation that Jes was the cause of Elspeth not being able to feel.Dameon:
• I was annoyed at the constant hints that Dameon loves Elspeth (plus the Bablboa sideplot) and her consistently being blind to it. It makes Elspeth out to be a fool and puts the reader offside. This built to the kiss but then nothing. I feel like a lot of this plot was unnecessary and would have preferred more time be spent on some of the characters we barely saw.
• I am a big fan of tragic love stories so I appreciated the bitter sweetness of this line (pg 629-633):
You love Rushton. I know it better than anyone can because I feel it.
Dameon clearly knew she was not interested in him and loved Rushton. So Dameon’s ‘emotional coercion’ (and he admits he ‘made’ her) is a bit abhorrent to me. No one should force affection.Matthew:
• Elspeth’s reunion with Matthew (pg. 966) is one of my favourite scenes, I had missed him so much! But so disappointed I did not see more of him with Elspeth. Also, someone mentioned the Dameon and Matthew reunion and now I desperately want to read that!
• Matthew develops miraculous powers (pg 971-972): Matthew farseeks Galtha, but he is not a beastspeaker. Also, Matthew farseeks Dameon, but we have been told you cannot farseek a someone unless they are a farseeker or coercer.
• The farewell. So bittersweet that Elspeth uses Matthew’s eyes one last time and sees Dragon. Also, I loved the parallel- Matthew was the first person she ever had a farseeking conversation with (in Obernewtyn) and he will be the last (in The Red Queen).Swallow:
• I am a bit heartsore over Swallow’s sacrifice and commitment to the promises.
• In terms of the Ancient promises issue. I took it to mean that Swallow said his part of the Ancient promises before he dies? Also, whatever Elf said in the crypt was her part of the Ancient promises?
• A mistake? I was particularly annoyed that after Swallow’s sacrifice we get (pg 1065):
He chose Swallow as his name because it was the name of a free winged thing that flew where it desired.
No, we are told in Ashling that Swallow was a nickname Iriny gave him.Destroyer/Ariel/Lidge:
• I had always seen Ariel as the Destroyer but I am okay with the Destroyer being named as Lidge. In the end, it was Ariel who did what I thought the Destroyer would do. As others have said, in a way Ariel was the Destroyer.
• In regards to Dafydd/Gilaine/Jow not realising the block was Lidge. I think it is important to remember the in TF we are told they are not blocked by Lidge (they are all linked to Lidge with their powers) so they would have no idea of what being outside Lidge’s mind i.e. the block, would feel like.
• Someone pointed out that Ariel sent Gilaine to Redport which caused his ultimate downfall. Such a beautiful irony that I had not picked up on.Sentinel:
• Was definitely not what you would think but was suitably foreshadowed by INES, GOD and Hendon.
• With the security Sentinel had (and being sentient) I do not comprehend how others could access Sentinel if Elspeth had failed in her quest.
• Some others have asked why Elspeth was needed to destroy Sentinel as she did not need to use her dark power. I thought it was mentioned in TRQ that Cassy/Hannah never had all the keys/signs necessary to gain access. Elspeth realised that Cassy had to get the laptop from the Gadfians and then devise a power supply. Which all happened at the end of Cassy’s life. I assumed that is why it all had to wait for Elspeth, it was all about her being in the right places at the right times.Established side characters:
• As some people have mentioned I was really disappointed that the characters (Brydda, Jackoby, Reuvan, Dafydd etc.) which have been key/established throughout the series barely get mentioned in TRQ. In particular, Brydda played no role in the rebellion (ironic) and never got justice for Idris.
• I am disappointed that these characters seemed to be sidelined for the non-essential descriptions in the first half of TRQ.Eden/‘The reward’
• As someone else mentioned, if in Eden there are only two individuals for each species then that is not a population which can be sustained.
• While I like Rushton’s take on them being finally free of being ‘necessary’ and ‘important’ people. I do not particularly like Eden being framed as a reward by IC. Elspeth thought she had to go (no choice) with Sentinel to free the beasts but she actually was not needed. In the meantime Elspeth (and Rushton) has left all her friends behind, will forever be isolated and will never be able to return.
• The ending left a bitter taste in my mouth and I am really disappointed that the series ended on this note. Also, as this is the very end it is not something I can simply overlook or easily explain away.
• Interestingly, it looks like most of us did not like ‘the reward’ byline. It seems a bit weird for IC to write an ending that alienates most of her audience. Also, IC has mentioned in interviews that she knew the last sentence of TRQ for quite some time so that makes me even more confused.Plot points that were confirmed (I was right about!):
• Hannah Sr. and Jacob were buried together (pg 524).
• The weapons were associated with the moon (pg 910). Good old Maruman hating the moon all the way back in Obernewtyn.
• Maruman in cryo (pg 914).
• Salamander is Jakoby’s sister (pg 965). As others have said that reveal was way too quick and brushed aside.
• Entina = Sentinal (pg 1002)!
• The Ancient promises were first made in Luthen's crypt (pg 1040-1044).
• Swallow’s real name revealed (pg 1065).Unanswered questions:
• There is an interesting line on pg 607:
The ability of humans to breed has been inhibited.
Was there any evidence for this in the previous books?
• We are told that Ishmael put Hannah and Cassy in cryo (pg 914) but I am curious about who/what released them all hundreds of years later?
• I loved making the realisation that Dragon was in cryo. But who put her there and who resurrected her?
• As others have mentioned how does Maruman’s lifespan work? Pretty sure he would have been resurrected with Hannah because he was in her cryopod. But then he would be centuries old. I was wondering, even though it is a bit of a long shot, whether Maruman was put back in cryo with Dragon? Elspeth mentions seeing a cat in the crypod with Dragon. If Dragon was awakened just before Obernewtyn then at that time Maruman could make his way from the ruins to the Orphanage to meet Elspeth for the events of Obernewtyn to play out. Also, Dragon is the only human other than Elspeth that Maruman is close to.
Edit: I realised during a re-read that we were told the Redlanders have not been able to use their powers since the Red Queen disappeared. When I first read this in TRQ I obviously thought the time period had been about a decade but we now know it was two hundred years. What was blocking the powers, when it obviously wasn't Lidge. I think this is an inconsistency that cannot be resolved.
Love all the plays on words: tumen (two men), speci (specimen), Naha (Hannah) etc.
Very meta (pg 333):
So much has happened so fast, after all that time in Habitat when nothing at all happened.
Poetic (pg 352):
I think it always takes more courage to live than to die.
Beautiful irony (pg 352):
For once I was content to have my future cast for me.
Very meta (pg 615):
Even if the dreams we have are true, there is no way to know… nor can we take what anyone in them says as truth because they could be lying or mistaken.
Poetic (pg 989):
I could not get free of my mind to let it pool into a spirit shape that would enable me to escape the prison of my flesh, the prison in which my flesh now lay.