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Author Topic: The Folding Knife Week 2: Chapters 5 - 8  (Read 6658 times)

Offline Arry

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The Folding Knife Week 2: Chapters 5 - 8
« on: September 10, 2013, 12:16:11 AM »
Still really enjoying this one. And I also am still waiting for Basso to be taken out by someone. I am still suspicsious of Antigonous, and now with his relationship with Melsuntha, I can’t help but wonder if Antigonous placed her there for some part in a scheme (yes … I am cynical and suspicious). I like her, I actually want Basso to be happy with her, but I’m feeling rather uneasy about it. And he is confiding in her … a lot! Anyone else waiting for her to play a role in his downfall?

I am still in awe over how detached he is with his own children, yet so involved with Bassano. And the crypt his sister has commissioned! How creepy is that? She is obsessed with hating Basso and finding a way for revenge. And what is she plotting?  I can’t imagine she actually thinks Basso would murder her, I think she just wants to frame him for her death. And what will happen now that Basso has pretty much bought Olybrias? And of course, we are seeing more political strategies in this book as Basso works to build his empire. Ones still very relatable to modern day.

And as to the magic (or lack thereof so far), I am wondering if Basso’s luck will turn out to be a form of magic?
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Offline pornokitsch

Re: The Folding Knife Week 2: Chapters 5 - 8
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2013, 09:08:06 AM »
I have to say, Olybrias was a bit of a damp squib as a villain. Basso ran circles around him...

Offline Arry

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Re: The Folding Knife Week 2: Chapters 5 - 8
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2013, 01:41:04 PM »
I have to say, Olybrias was a bit of a damp squib as a villain. Basso ran circles around him...

He really was. Up until this point in the book, I was still wondering if it was possible for Olybrias to come out with something unexpected. We really didn't know much about him or his plans or abilities. I think because he didn't have much going on and was quite outclassed.
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Offline Nighteyes

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Re: The Folding Knife Week 2: Chapters 5 - 8
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2013, 10:31:16 PM »
KJ Parker loves her red herrings and Olybrias turned out to be one really. The family dynamics are really messed up! Basso instead of fixing his relationship with first his father, second his sons, instead seeks out surrogates.  Is Melsuntha actually a surrogate sister for Basso?  Seems to be a very platonic marriage.
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Offline Arry

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Re: The Folding Knife Week 2: Chapters 5 - 8
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2013, 10:36:01 PM »
Basso instead of fixing his relationship with first his father, second his sons, instead seeks out surrogates.  Is Melsuntha actually a surrogate sister for Basso?  Seems to be a very platonic marriage.

That's an interesting point. Definitely noticed that with his father and Antigonus, and then his sons and Bassano. But it hadn't occurred to me that Melsuntha could be a replacement for his sister. hmmmmm....   ::)
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Offline pornokitsch

Re: The Folding Knife Week 2: Chapters 5 - 8
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2013, 09:16:46 AM »
That's a really interesting idea... Basso does seem to want someone close that he can 'show off to', doesn't he? 

Offline DBASKLS

Re: The Folding Knife Week 2: Chapters 5 - 8
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2013, 05:34:54 PM »
I definitely think Melsuntha is up to no good! That scene where Basso was explaining why he'd increased the percentage of gold in the coins seemed to be setting up something to me.

To be honest his sister is beginning to annoy me - get over it woman. All her being a hard nosed bitch thing is cancelled out by her putting up with her husband's shenanigans while he was alive. But I guess if we didn't have her we wouldn't have much of a story.

Looking forward to the rest of the book to see what happens.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2013, 07:02:27 PM by dbaskls »
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Offline Nighteyes

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Re: The Folding Knife Week 2: Chapters 5 - 8
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2013, 10:49:58 PM »
I definitely think Melsuntha is up to no good! That scene where Basso was explaining why he'd increased the percentage of gold in the coins seemed to be setting up something to me.

To be honest his sister is beginning to annoy me - get over it woman. All her being a hard nosed bitch thing is cancelled out by her putting up with her husband's shenanigans while he was alive. But I guess if we didn't have her we wouldn't have much of a story.

Loking forward to the rest of the book to see what happens.

Yes, the sister is quite nuts.  But then the whole family clearly is.  Amazing how fascinating it is reading about increasing the percentage of gold in coins is.  A bit of reflection on how ineffective our own governments dealt with the recent financial crisis?  Basso's strategy is spend more to get his country out of it's financial difficulties and was rather effective, whilst our governments cut and cut and dealt with the crisis rather ineffectively.
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Offline eclipse

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Re: The Folding Knife Week 2: Chapters 5 - 8
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2013, 03:18:14 PM »
And as to the magic (or lack thereof so far), I am wondering if Basso’s luck will turn out to be a form of magic?

His Luck is interesting even when he gets stabbed in the assassination attempt  it miss  everything vital it makes me think even if the worse would happen to him he would get back up eventually with no harm done

The plague as well he caught it but survived but most of his enemies died, it's like his blessed by a god of misfortune
« Last Edit: September 14, 2013, 03:20:48 PM by Eclipse »
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Offline pornokitsch

Re: The Folding Knife Week 2: Chapters 5 - 8
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2013, 04:17:08 PM »
Basso's strategy is spend more to get his country out of it's financial difficulties and was rather effective, whilst our governments cut and cut and dealt with the crisis rather ineffectively.

A good point... he has interesting stances on a few other political points as well (immigration, being one) - not sure the Tories would approve. Although the war thing, on the other hand...

Offline Victoria Hooper

Re: The Folding Knife Week 2: Chapters 5 - 8
« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2013, 04:56:02 PM »
Enjoying this more and more. I love how for each new decision Basso makes, he is asked his reasons. There are always multiple reasons, but you're never sure how many are real, how many are given just to convince the person he's currently talking to, and how many are just made up on the spot. You're also never sure how far luck is really playing a part.

There are loads of great examples of this, but I think my favourite so far is his decision to marry Melsuntha. Reasons given:
- He has to marry someone because of his sister's blackmail. Noble families aren't interested, so Melsuntha.
- He knows her, likes her and respects her, so she's a sensible choice.
- He loves her. (I think he acutally does)
- She will tell him what she really thinks/he argues with her a lot but still likes to have her around. (I think this is just another way of saying he loves her, really, but it's a bit more meaningful, and is what convinces her)
- To annoy his sister. (this is probably a part of every decision Basso has ever made)
- To make the working classes, foreigners and everyday folks like him, as he's marrying one of them, marrying for love, etc. = votes
- To avoid creating turmoil by upheaving the power structure amongst the big families. (is this a real reason, or just a lucky bonus?)

I would also add another two possibles that aren't explicitly mentioned but are implied:

- To give a reason for extending the franchise, for all the people who are baffled/annoyed by it. In real Roman history, a famous figure who fought for working class rights basically lost all support from the people when he suggested extending citizenship. The Roman working classes may have liked a champion of the people, but they were even more protective of their special 'Romanness' and didn't want foreigners to have it too. It's possible Basso's decision to extend citizenship may have made him unpopular with a lot of people, and not just the conservative types. But if he gives the impression of having done it for love rather than political reasons, those people might be more willing to forgive him. (Ah, he's human after all, they might think)
- To be different and unpredictable, and so interesting, and so ensure votes (this is a reason Basso gave for earlier decisions, and may have played a part here too).

And then, just when you're wrapping your head around all this, we get thrown another possible reason. Bassano is in trouble and has been thrown out of the priesthood in disgrace. Basso's marriage has neatly taken focus away from this, saving his beloved nephew much embarrassment. Is this just another lucky co-incidence, or did Basso make his decision to marry Melsuntha only after hearing about his nephew? I could very easily believe that this is Basso's main reason in this case - he is devoted to Bassano in a way he doesn't seem to be to anyone or anything else, even himself.

I love this. So cleverly done. Makes Basso a fascinating character, and I love trying to work him out.


KJ Parker loves her red herrings and Olybrias turned out to be one really. The family dynamics are really messed up! Basso instead of fixing his relationship with first his father, second his sons, instead seeks out surrogates.  Is Melsuntha actually a surrogate sister for Basso?  Seems to be a very platonic marriage.

This is brilliant. I think you're spot on!  :)

Offline Idlewilder

Re: The Folding Knife Week 2: Chapters 5 - 8
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2013, 05:00:36 PM »
Well, my net crashed just as I was about to hit post - so let's try this again.

I'm growing to really like Basso. He remains true to the character we met at the beginning, which for someone so multi-layered is a testament to Parker's writing. I loved the scene where he goes into the bar and tries to gauge popular opinion of himself. The dialogue in that scene was just perfect. And Basso's reaction - to send the man gold instead of have him killed - is just Basso all over.

I love that everything comes down to the minor details. Every major outcome can be traced back to something seemingly so minor. It reminds me of the old proverb-y thing:

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.


Everything boils down to the decisions of Basso's genius in banking; whether it be to his political or financial benefit.

I really like Melsuntha - I dunno if I trust her, but I want to. Antigonus I'm still unsure of. Despite the fact he's dying, he seemed well last we saw of him - and yet he never attended Basso's wedding. Hmm. Also, still hardly any mention of the twins. His nephew met his fiancee before they did! Bizarre.

KJ Parker loves her red herrings

Very much this. Sharps was basically an exercise in red herrings, and The Folding Knife seems to work in the same vein.

Is Melsuntha actually a surrogate sister for Basso?  Seems to be a very platonic marriage.

I had a similar thought. He tells - I forget if it is Bassano or the priest - that he is basically looking for someone to challenge him; which we know his sister does - she seems to be (at least in Basso's mind) the only person who is his intellectual equal. Whether Melsuntha is really at that same level, or just culturally very different I suppose we'll have to wait and see.

If we assume that Basso is the protagonist here (debatable) then his sister, to me at least, is the main antagonist. And as I said above, everything Basso does hinges on small decisions made early on. Something tells me Basso's downfall will hinge on similar minor details - only these have been steered by his sister, the only person who can really match him wit-for-wit.
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Offline AnneLyle

Re: The Folding Knife Week 2: Chapters 5 - 8
« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2013, 09:27:13 AM »
Oooh, I like the idea that Melsuntha is a surrogate sister!

Also, I loved the explanation of her full name - a tiny nugget of fascinating world-building. I wonder if KJP copied this from some real-world culture, or if it was invented from scratch. In all my reading about the ancient world, I haven't come across this kind of naming convention before.
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Re: The Folding Knife Week 2: Chapters 5 - 8
« Reply #13 on: November 24, 2013, 09:52:25 PM »
Anyone else waiting for her to play a role in his downfall?
To be honest? I don't want him to fall and since I know he will, I'm reading slower and slower, not wanting to arrive at that point. ;)

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I am still in awe over how detached he is with his own children, yet so involved with Bassano.
This was actually quite common in some societies. As a man, you could never know if your wife's children were your own (and in fact, Basso doubts this), but the children of your sisters were clearly from your own blood.

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And the crypt his sister has commissioned! How creepy is that? She is obsessed with hating Basso and finding a way for revenge. And what is she plotting?  I can’t imagine she actually thinks Basso would murder her, I think she just wants to frame him for her death.
She is so nuts, every squirrel would be jealous. I find her exhausting and since she, Basso and we all know that he won't do anything grave against her, it's a bit boring as well. I'd be very surprised if she wasn't a main reason for his downfall...

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And of course, we are seeing more political strategies in this book as Basso works to build his empire. Ones still very relatable to modern day.
Really cool and interesting ones at that! Basso is an incredibly efficient politician and ruler - because or even though he is extremely egoistical?

Quote
And as to the magic (or lack thereof so far), I am wondering if Basso’s luck will turn out to be a form of magic?
Could be. It definitely is more than coincidence would allow.

To be honest his sister is beginning to annoy me - get over it woman.
Yes please. Or she could accidentally die in a plot she herself devised.

I love how for each new decision Basso makes, he is asked his reasons. There are always multiple reasons, but you're never sure how many are real, how many are given just to convince the person he's currently talking to, and how many are just made up on the spot.
Yeah, that's quite cool and informative.
Quote
I love this. So cleverly done. Makes Basso a fascinating character, and I love trying to work him out.
Yep. :)

I love that everything comes down to the minor details. Every major outcome can be traced back to something seemingly so minor.
Absolutely. I guess it's the same in real life, but you don't get the details here as easily, which is one reason this book is so satisfying to read.

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