Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us $3,400 per month for bandwidth bills alone, and since we don't believe in shoving popup ads to our registered users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
  • Post
  • Reply
Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Once, in the long-ago days when time still had a meaning, there was a golden thread in which the great sleuths of The Book Barn read through the classic mysteries of the genre, attempting to solve them before reaching the end.

That time has, once again, come upon us.

Here is how this works:

  • The thread agrees on a book to run, and everyone interested acquires a copy. For convenience, try to stick to books that can be bought as ebooks.
  • One person who has already read the book splits the book into chunks of a couple of chapters at a time, then tells the thread which chapter to read up to first.
  • The thread discusses the book up to that point, making up lists of suspects, evidence, and lausible theories.
  • Once there's been a decent amount of discussion, the leader allows the thread to continue, indicating the next stopping point.
  • This continues until the read-along reaches the big reveal ó the moment where the critical secrets are revealed. Before allowing the thread to read to this point, the leader will indicate that the time has come, and ask everyone in the thread to lock in their theories.
  • Then, you read forward to find out who was right!
  • Once the book is complete, someone volunteers to run the next book.

Past Books:

The Body on the Beach, by Simon Brett
The Problem of the Green Capsule, by John Dickson Carr
She Died a Lady, by John Dickson Carr
A Murder is Announced, by Agatha Christie
And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie
Crooked House, by Agatha Christie
The Moving Finger, by Agatha Christie
Murder is Easy, by Agatha Christie
Pit Prop Syndicate, by Freeman Wills Crofts
The Ponson Case, by Freeman Wills Crofts
Cat of Many Tails, by Ellery Queen
Thus Was Adonis Murdered, by Sarah Caudwell
Murder by the Book, by Rex Stout
The Blind Barber, by John Dickson Carr

Books Planned for Future Challenges
The Shortest Way to Hades, by Sarah Caudwell
Murder in the Dark, by Kerry Greenwood
Smallbone Deceased, by Michael Gilbert
Death and the Dancing Footman, by Ngaio Marsh
Stop Press, by Michael Innes

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

For this inaugural read-along, I plan to start with Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir.



Amazon link
Google Play Books link

People have said a lot of things about Gideon the Ninth. For example, they said that it was about lesbian necromancers in space, which got a lot of play. However, I got interested when somebody said that it was more like "Tumblr Agatha Christie." Upon reading it myself, I was able to confirm that this is indeed a classical whodunnit, and a ton of fun, and eminently qualified for a proper read-along.

So, here we go: our first reading of the book is going to be Act One, the first eight chapters. I'd like to end this phase next week, so that everybody has plenty of time to get started.

Rand Brittain fucked around with this message at 03:56 on Aug 14, 2020

Entropic
Feb 21, 2007

patriarchy sucks


Having read both books, all y'all trying to figure out motives from the first eight chapters are totally boned, pun entirely intended.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Well, the first eight is just the setup; it's okay if people don't start forming theories until the murders actually start.

Steely Glint
Oct 28, 2011



Dinosaur Gum

I bought Gideon a while ago but never got around to reading it. Looks like most other people here were less lazy than I was and have already read this book & its sequel, but still -- this seems as good an opportunity as any to dig in!

Fair warning, I'm not much of a mystery reader so I may well miss things that would be obvious or conventional to a more seasoned reader. Rambling on the first eight chapters: Well, that certainly was a bunch of setup! Gideon's a great viewpoint character for a haunted house murder mystery, since she's got a very strong set of biases that color her readings of character feelings/motivations and events. Like, I'm fairly sure Harrowhark was white-knuckled in anticipation of something rather more dangerous than the necromantic syllabus Gideon was internally snarking about. She's also (mostly?) illiterate, which will probably be invoked later to conceal useful information from us, which is always fun.

Was waiting for the "no necro-cellphones" rule, since that's a pretty standard restriction for murder mysteries. Speaking of necromancy, I'm not entirely clear on what it can do (see again: Gideon's 2kool4skool attitude). The prayers indicate that some sort of resurrection is possible and that at least the Emperor is undying. However, the Lord & Lady of the Ninth seem to just be regular-dead, with their continued existence being more akin to well-embalmed marionettes than to resurrected zombies. Plus, death was referred to as a serious risk rather than an inconvenience by the keepers of Canaan House and Ortus's mother seemed afraid of her son dying so... So. Necromancy is more of a way of utilizing dead things for labor and conflict, and not so much a means to live forever as a lich or something, and the religious veneration of death is meant to make using dead bodies as mindless skeleton laborers palatable to the populace. Ghosts can be called back, but only temporarily. The Emperor might be more powerful, be able to bind ghosts to bodies, maybe. Also don't know what or who the sleeping Ninth being is.

Thoughts on the tech level. The Ninth planet (with no real ecosystem, just an artificial atmosphere pumped into a rift to support a bunch of people worshipping bones -- wonderfully evocative) is referred to as far-off and shadowed, but the shuttle took just one hour to reach the tomb-world of the First. There must be some sort of religious taboo or political restriction or something to discourage travel to the First/away from the Ninth if space travel is so common and fast but they haven't travelled for ten thousand years and the material situation of the Ninth is unknown to the leaders of the other Houses. The star is referred to as Dominicus instead of just "the Sun" and the teachers compare the attainment of Lyctorhood to gaining power over a galaxy, so presumably this society is spread over at least a handful of star systems? But then again, Gideon can see Dominicus from the shuttle shaft, so maybe the Sun just got a cool goth rebranding in the last ten thousand years. Since the Very Important™ First house is in this system, plus there being two planets closer to the sun, it's possible that the First planet (described as having big ol' oceans and hella clouds) is an abandoned Earth.


Who's got murderous intent? Who's going to die? Whose death will be faked to allow them to continue their murderous rampage without suspicion? What did the various necromancers actually expect from this trial on the First? Are the servants killers? Absolutely no idea. With all that out of the way, here are some wild guesses carefully considered theories: Three shuttles got dropped, which means (unless that scene was just meant to imply that the shuttles are no longer available so people can't leave, establishing the closed game board) at least three, up to six seven, people are dead. Depends on if one member of a group dying means the teachers shank the other ones. Dunno who got got, but I'll say that Dulcinea and her Chevalier will be among the first dead since she's the only introduced character with a mote of sympathetic characterization and Protesilaus feels like he exists to immediately job. It'll look like someone died because they opened a locked door to give that rule some gravitas. Also, Harrow is totally going to kill Gideon at the end of the book, just from the one quip at the end of chapter 6.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Excellent; I'm glad to see someone joining in. I was kind of worried that everybody had already read the book and that I should maybe switch to something more obscure.

I think Gideon can read, she just prefers to read the equivalent of Men's Health for lesbians who love military chic and machismo. Which is interesting, because apparently she was able to get that on the Ninth. Who was ordering all those titty magazines when the planet is basically set up to spite her specifically? Is it illegal in the necro-empire to prevent teenagers from having access to soft porn?

Hobnob
Feb 23, 2006

Ursa Adorandum


I loved the old whodunnit threads, but unfortunately I've read Gideon quite recently (and very good it was too). I'll be waiting for the next book, though.

Kchama
Jul 25, 2007





I'm late but I'd be up for this.

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!



Morbid Hound

I'd join but i've already read it! Y'all have fun storming the castle!

cptn_dr
Sep 7, 2011

It's just so good!


Yeah, I've read it (err... Several times) but I'm here for the ride. Very much enjoying the speculation so far though.

team overhead smash
Sep 2, 2006

Team-Forest-Tree-Dog:
Smashing your way into our hearts one skylight at a time

Yeah, read it already too and hoping people get enjoyment out of it. Didn't approach it as a mystery novel myself, just dove in and devoured it without much thought, so will be interested in what a more careful read shows.

Foxfire_
Nov 8, 2010



I will play. Is this a fair mystery book? I burned out of the last thread after the bullshit that was The Pit Prop Syndicate

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Foxfire_ posted:

I will play. Is this a fair mystery book? I burned out of the last thread after the bullshit that was The Pit Prop Syndicate

Having read it, I'm prepared to call it a fair mystery book, yes. (Although this is something people can disagree about.)

Anyway, I was able to solve the mystery, which is the important thing.

Entropic
Feb 21, 2007

patriarchy sucks


I made a general discussion thread for the series for those that have already read GtN and want to talk about the sequel that just came out without posting spoilers in here:
https://forums.somethingawful.com/s...hreadid=3937069

The Glumslinger
Sep 24, 2008

Coach Nagy, you want me to throw to WHAT side of the field?




Hair Elf

Foxfire_ posted:

I will play. Is this a fair mystery book? I burned out of the last thread after the bullshit that was The Pit Prop Syndicate

Yeah, it's not an asspull, it feels earned

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Anyway, we won't move on until Friday, so there's plenty of time to get started! Honestly, there's time to get started after that as well, since our next reading segment will take us to some actual Crimes.

Idaholy Roller
May 19, 2009


Very much down for this.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Okay, let's get started! You may now read to the end of Act Two.

Now, at least, we have some bodies.

Some recent bodies, at least.

Rand Brittain fucked around with this message at 05:08 on Aug 22, 2020

Steely Glint
Oct 28, 2011



Dinosaur Gum

Ah, my clever deductions were completely off base, as expected. The shuttles were removed to close off the board, Gideon's definitely not illiterate, and Dulcinea and Protesilaus are still breathing at the end of part two. Zero for three orz

Lorechat. Love the creepy revelations about the house and the hints toward the nature of the broader... Nine Houses? Dunno how to refer to the Emperor's empire. The Empire, for now.
So the Cohort is not just a space fleet but an invading, occupying, pillaging force on a galactic scale. They've got outposts on dead worlds and cities that need their governors defended on others; they invade planets with life and murder the poo poo out of everything they encounter to fuel their necromancers' invocations. It's not clear to me whether these other planets have aliens or just other humans that aren't chill with all the bones and ghosts and whatnot. Is the Empire expanding to fuel some project that requires lots of death juice? Because they're trying to exterminate who/whatever killed off the humans (can't perform a resurrection on something that's alive, yeah)? Or are the Houses just doing imperial things for the usual petty reasons?
The House being a patchwork is weird, I guess? Presumably it means it was created cobbled together from disparate parts rcently in order to achieve... some goal. Maybe creating a historical narrative by putting pre-Resurrection labs next to other, chronologically distant but narratively important rooms?
The symbol Gideon saw on the locked door Harrow's interested in, with the five circles joined by lines. Assuming it's a symbol that would be recognizable to the reader it could be, uh... well, maybe that's a bad assumption because I can't think of any common symbols that match that description. Maybe a pentagram, as per the Five Circles Theorem? Or one could maybe describe the chemical weapons symbol as being five circles joined by lines, but that's a bit of a stretch.
What is Transference/Winnowing? What happened with Gideon's sight during the Response fight? Idle speculation says that it's part of the original Lyctorization process or something -- get a necromancer to transfer their mind into a more capable body, winnowing away a weaker mind in the process?
Going back to how the Fourth sending Coronabeth and Ianthe both is going to be a problem for the two of them, and only the two of them, at the end of the Lyctor hunt (from part 1). Only one person from each House can become a Lyctor, and having to sacrifice your cavalier by scooping out their mind would fit since they only brought the one. It also grimly fits the "joined with their cavaliers" line from the Emperor's letter, which seems more setting-appropriate than meaning that each cavalier is also granted a spot at the Round Table But Made Of Teeth (which was my initial assumption).


Murderchat! RIP the Fifth couple. They were really quite charming over the course of these last eight chapters, so I wasn't entirely surprised to see them dead. At least they got people together for a party full of juicy snippets of overhead conversations before they wandered off and died.
Assuming there's a Culprit who is Murdering people for Reasons (and not that, e.g. Abigail and Magnus innocently toodled on down the shaft and accidentally woke a particularly irate ghost who squished their souls out), offing the Fifth couple first makes sense for a few reasons.
First, Abigail was an excellent spirit conversationalist. Having someone around who can conjure ghosts to be like "Hey that necro's the one that corpsified me" would be rather inconvenient.
Second, the Fifth is the most powerful/core House and both Abigail and Magnus seemed to be well-liked. Killing off people who could otherwise be the center of an organized response to The Murders strengthens their position and sets up more splintering and infighting among the survivors later on.

Harrow spent a good few hours working out the first lab trial, giving everyone enough time to plausibly depart the dinner party and go prepare for murder in the retro labs. So, for now, we can only maybe rule people out based on the murder method: they were killed either with necromancy or overwhelming force ("back-to-front limbs", "what remains of their faces", "sad, crumpled corpse[s]"). All of the necromancers would be capable of this, given their ability to use death magic and all. Of the cavaliers, though, only Protesilaus seems readily capable of this level of violence. He's a giant lump of muscle blessed with neither social nor physical dexterity. Less likely are Marta, who might be able to get juiced up on death energy and twist some limbs around, and Camilla, since she comes off as a fighter more than a duellist in her attack on Gideon. Can't really see Jeannemary, Naberius, or Colum mangling corpses like that; they're more rapier swishy-stabby types.

Let's trace out the events that led to the two Fifthers' deaths, starting from the murder and working backwards.
The culprit murders Abigail and Magnus at the bottom of the laboratory shaft.
Okay, so why did Abigail and Magnus go to the laboratory? Abigail wanted to go, presumably for scholarly reasons, and brought along Magnus as protection.
How did Abigail know about the labs? She asked Octakiseron about downstairs access, and he answered truthfully.
Why did Abigail know to ask him about the labs? Someone else told her about them, somehow. The two conversations Abigail took part in during the dinner were with Dulcinea, about her & Magnus's inability to conceive and her research into post-Resurrection pre-Cohort history, and with someone of the Second House, the contents of which we were not privy to. We haven't seen much of either member of the Second, really. Why didn't she ask about the labs before the party? She's shy, but not shy enough to not go talk to the Eighth scion if she had wanted to. So, I'll assume that one or both of those conversations contained information that led her to ask. This means that either Dulcinea or Judith know about the downstairs labs, which is interesting because neither of them were spotted by Harrow while investigating all the doors. Between the two, I'd say Dulcinea knows. Marta is spending a lot of time in the training room, which precludes her from exploring the labs with Judith. Only Harrow and Dulcinea seem to be without their chevaliers often, and the Cohort team especially seems like they'd adhere to proper protocol when exploring deadly haunted necromantic ruins. Furthermore, Protesilaus made that "It's shut" statement, which is something you'd say about a locked door that you had previously opened, and the only locked door to have been opened thus far leads down to the labs.
And Dulcinea herself -- she went from being a sweetly overenthusiastic naif in the first part to seeming rather more manipulative. She refers to the dinner party as "useful", smiles with "animal cunning", instinctively deduces Gideon's postural tells and calls her out on her swordsmanship, insinuates herself into Gideon's day-to-day. Now that I've written those out there's really not that much textual evidence I can find to support my feelings here, but still.


Segue! Let's go through the suspect list:

First, Teacher and the priests. Don't think the butler(s) did it.
Second, Judith and Marta. Motive... Cohort rising up against the rest of the houses, seizing control in a coup? Dulcinea notes that the Houses have greatly benefited from Cohort plunder (although that feels more like her threatening Gideon with her knowledge of the Ninth's sad state of affairs), so maybe they want to keep that all to themselves now or something.
Third, Coronabeth, Ianthe, and Naberius. We've seen them talking together and they were rather more focused on discussing the matter of the puzzles at hand than murder. Ianthe, however, is roundly hostile to most everyone she talks to, so a potential motive for her working alone would be, what, a jealous rage? Showing off that she's so good, she can kill the heirs of all the houses under the watch of the First and get away with it?
Fourth, Isaac and Jeannemary. They were subservient to the Fifth, so maybe they wanted to get out from their thumb via targeted murder? Maybe, but that motive doesn't really generalize to any other murders (and there will be more murders).
Sixth, Palamedes and Camilla. Palamedes seems more interested in the puzzle that is Canaan House than anything else. Camilla is devoted and either always wary or was somehow primed to attack Gideon. Were the two previously attacked while exploring? Either way, the two of them had both Gideon and Harrow at their mercy and chose to aid them. Not the actions of a pair of serial killers.
Seventh, Dulcinea and Protesilaus. Having failed to die in the first set of murders, the two are now top suspects... except that I have no idea what a motive would be. We know she wants to die in a beautiful way so maybe pulling off an And Then There Were None style murder-suicide in the tomb-world of the First is beautiful to her? And her cavalier is so loyal he's just like, okay with that? It's a stretch.
Eighth, Octakiseron and Colum. Dunno about these guys, their antipathy towards the Ninth prevents us from spending any real time with them. Maybe they're so fanatically loyal to the Emperor that they're murdering people who fail him in some way?
Ninth, Gideon and Harrow. Gideon's the viewpoint character and Harrow was with her the entire time.


Questions of immediate relevancy. Personal guesses included, though I'm really quite unsatisfied with them:

    1) Who killed Magnus and Abigail? Protesilaus. He took his big murdery hands and mashed them all up.
    2) Why were Magnus and Abigail killed? The culprit is planning more murders and needed to eliminate Abigail so she can't call up ghosts to snitch.
    3) What are the culprit's motivations? ... Dulcinea is a sociopath who took up murdering as a hobby and is getting one last hurrah before she coughs herself to death?

Non-murder-related questions.

    4) Why did the Ninth keep Gideon around? She's not good news, what with 198 children dead within a few years of her arrival. Gideon remembers pretty much everybody -- including the previous Lord and Lady of Drearburh -- looking at her with contempt and revulsion. Harrow said something about Gideon being a cuckoo -- is she responsible for the deaths of the children? For the deaths of Harrow's parents and their cavalier? Why not kill her and put a stop to it? Is she protected somehow?
    5) On that note, to what extent was Harrow's recruitment of Gideon and exile of Ortus planned? If it was planned, then why? Gideon has to be valuable enough to take to the First but is then immediately cut out of all her plans. She has to be browbeat into begrudgingly using Gideon for the one thing she's halfway good at (swords).
    6) How did Gideon end up on the Ninth? Who was driving the shuttle that Gideon's mom jumped/was pushed out of? What circumstances prevented her from raising Gideon elsewhere?
    7) What's in the tomb, precious
    8) Who or what is the Empire at war with?

Rand Brittain posted:

Now, at least, we have some bodies.

Some recent bodies, at least.


minor spoiler wuz here

Steely Glint fucked around with this message at 06:00 on Aug 22, 2020

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Steely Glint posted:

Ortus died on the way back to his home planet? Must have missed that. Shows how much Gideon cared about him, anyway, if I managed to gloss right over her reaction to that.

...ugh. That is actually my own stupid mistake about readers know at this point, although it isnít critical. I shall remove it.

Foxfire_
Nov 8, 2010



Want to go back and read bits more carefully, but caught up

- I don't think the condition of the bodies necessarily rules out any of the stabbier cavaliers. If I'm remembering right, the ladder down was a few stories so the fall would splat them pretty good.
- It will be interesting to know if they have their keyring and if it has a hatch key. If they got there on their own, they would need to know about the hatch and ask Teacher for a key to it. If someone lured them there and opened it for them, there's more rings than keys floating around.
- We have also seen an extra key; didn't the pair that helped Gideon find Harrow have a 2nd key on their ring?
- All of the racing and secrecy in general seems possibly unwarranted, the whole ordeal was presented as possible for everyone to win at (or no one to win at)


e: from rereading early bits
The dead kids in the beginning is more of a thing. Gideon goes to that as her opening blackmail on Harrow, not the zombie parents: "You know what I know. And I'll tell them the numbers". So there's something going on there that blows up on Harrow very badly.

Timeline:
Year 0: 1-day old Gideon shows up, Ortus is 17, there are 199 other 0-19 year olds
Year 1: Harrow is born, Ortus is 18
Year 2: Sometime between now and year 0, all 199 of the others die
Year 18: Present

Ideas:
- Gideon is special and killing people passively (came out of the Locked Tomb?). The cuckoo line makes sense then, but why would this be bad for Harrow?
- Harrow's parents did some sacrifice thing to amp up Harrow's necromancy. Either: (A) They're sacrificing all the 9th's children, Gideon lives because she is "not of the 9th but beholden to it", Ortus lives because he is too old or (B) they need sacrifices willing/offered by their parents, Gideon lives because her mother is already dead, Ortus lives because his mother refuses.

Miscellaneous things:
- The prison above Drearburh is pretty Chekov's gun-ish
- Ortus's mom is an immigrant from the 8th who married into the 9th, which is pretty weird with how the 8th heir/cavalier is treating Gideon/Harrow. From the cast list & epigraph at the beginning, the 8th seems like the priesthood for the non-9th religion

Foxfire_ fucked around with this message at 03:07 on Aug 27, 2020

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Okay, let's move on. Henceforward I'm going to move forward a bit more often in smaller chunks, now that we've gotten the beginning exposition out of the way and got some juicy murders under our belt.

Please continue on until the end of Chapter Twenty.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Foxfire_ posted:

All of the racing and secrecy in general seems possibly unwarranted, the whole ordeal was presented as possible for everyone to win at (or no one to win at)

It's definitely interesting that Teacher is all smiles and "of course you can all rise to Lyctorhood together" but is also all "by the way there are no rules." What is the intention behind this game?

quote:

Ortus's mom is an immigrant from the 8th who married into the 9th, which is pretty weird with how the 8th heir/cavalier is treating Gideon/Harrow. From the cast list & epigraph at the beginning, the 8th seems like the priesthood for the non-9th religion

I guess someone has to be, since the Ninth House doesn't seem to provide any useful function other than making sure the Locked Tomb stays that way, to the point that the House basically doesn't exist any longer and nobody has noticed.

On the other hand, if keeping the Tomb locked is that important, why isn't anybody paying attention to what's going on there?

Steely Glint
Oct 28, 2011



Dinosaur Gum

Teacher talks... like a boomer... what with the unnecessary ellipses....

Chapter 19, Gideon being afraid of being inside the Locked Tomb "especially after what Harrow had done". What if the sorry state of the Ninth, the reason Harrow's afraid of being vassalized, is something more than her parents being dead and the Ninth having no people or resources? What if Harrow killed the thing in the Tomb in some spectacularly gory manner and eliminated the only justification the Ninth has for existing at all?

Chapter 19, the paper that says "ONE FLESH, ONE END. G. & P.". More fuel for my theory that Lyctorhood involves the transference of souls, although if both necro and cav were in on it it's less likely that the cav is just forcibly evicted from their body and more likely a fusion of some kind. But straight-up fusion wouldn't seem to present a problem for the twins, so hmm.

End of chapter 19. One of the original Lyctors was named Gideon? So our Gideon's mom knew that immortal Gideon somehow (or there's more than one person named Gideon in the galaxy, but let's discount that possibility).

Chapter 20, Dulcinea says she should have been the first to die since it's so predictable. Feeling slightly called out by that. Also, if you contort it the right way, Dulcinea's line about how she's comforted by people's actions echoing on after death is more evidence for my dumb "immortalized by creating a perfect murder mystery" Dulcinea culprit theory.


Foxfire_ posted:

Ideas:
- Gideon is special and killing people passively (came out of the Locked Tomb?). The cuckoo line makes sense then, but why would this be bad for Harrow?
- Harrow's parents did some sacrifice thing to amp up Harrow's necromancy. Either: (A) They're sacrificing all the 9th's children, Gideon lives because she is "not of the 9th but beholden to it", Ortus lives because he is too old or (B) they need sacrifices willing/offered by their parents, Gideon lives because her mother is already dead, Ortus lives because his mother refuses.

Spotting what Gideon tried to use as blackmail is a nice catch. The latter idea feels more likely to me, but why would Gideon hold Harrow responsible for the deaths? At age 2 Gideon probably wouldn't even remember anything.

Rand Brittain posted:

It's definitely interesting that Teacher is all smiles and "of course you can all rise to Lyctorhood together" but is also all "by the way there are no rules." What is the intention behind this game?
I was kind of assuming that the Emperor is super esoteric so he just went like "hey, can you house-sit for me? here's nine keyrings, also beware of overly-punctilious ultraghosts in the basement. tia" to the priests. I'm still not sure whether I think the game was intended to be competitive or cooperative. Either way it's set up to somehow impart forbidden Lyctor knowledge to the participants that even the First priests don't know (or are very good at pretending they don't). The snippets of pre-Resurrection lore we're being given are tantalizing, but I'm not sure if they're important to the game itself or not.

So far, we've been told that there was some pressing need to train people to do some very specific things and some people failed while at least Lyctor-Gideon succeeded. Harrow's been made to see through Gideon's eyes and siphon her life energy at a distance. In return, she's gained a theorem for creating regenerating skeletons and a second one for some other, unknown feat (weaving coterminous death & anti-magic spells?). Were the lab scientists trying to derive these theorems? Or were the spells powered by the theorems what they were fighting against? There was either a need for necromancers to operate at a distance, maybe using people as remote terminals for their necromancy, because the galaxy was full of murderous regenerating skeletons and lethal puddles or there was some reason they needed to invent said skeletons and puddles. And now the Emperor wants to make more Lyctors for some reason?

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

The other question is why has the Emperor kept all this super useful knowledge secret for thousands of years?

Foxfire_
Nov 8, 2010



I am suspicious that Teacher & the other priests are actually Lyctors/researchers that are really old:
- When Harrow does the 9th prayer after they arrive, the priests are happy about 'continuity', which is pretty weird
- Teacher occasionally refers to everyone as 'children'
- Teacher spends the whole hour they are fishing the bodies up outside the basement. Extra paranoid or thinks angry ghosts would react to him specifically?
- In the cast list, they are all lumped into "The Emperor <linebreak> his Lyctors <linebreak> and the priesthood of Canaan House" (how did the not-ebook version typeset this?) which seems like it's hiding something. Even the 9th great aunts got individual entries and they didn't even have dialogue.

Need to go update early timeline, Harrow did a thing in the Tomb when she was 9 I think, which is before her parents died. So we've got 3 separate incidents: (A) children mass death, (B) Harrow-in-the-tomb, (C) Zombie parents, all with a lot of time in between.

Suspicion list:
- Teacher & the priests: Up to something, but unlikely to have killed Abigail/Magnus. Killing the testee's unless they break some rule would be pretty rude
- 2nd (the army): Pressing for calling in the authorities would be pretty ballsy if they did the murders.
- 3rd (?diplomacy? 'Mouth of the emperor' / gems): I'm not convinced their division is real. Their cav would have known they didn't still have the keyring. Ianthe also had that thing where she monologued into the darkness/could see Gideon lurking in the stairwell
- 4th (? 'Hope of the emperor' / laurel): Probably not acting.
- 5th (? 'Heart of the emperor' / circlet):
- 6th (): Their annoyance/curiosity at the whole situation is real, since we saw that while Gideon was spying on them. My feeling is that they're not the ones kicking off a murder spree
- 7th (?art? 'Joy of the emperor' / rose): Dulcinea is weird and suspicious. She's playing to win (1 key earlier + the key Harrow/Gideon just got, avoiding personal risk). Her talking to Gideon towards the end of the trial was trending into 'give up and fry Harrow'. She also started early, Gideon's initial encounter in the garden ended with the 7th cav coming back from doing something with a door ("It is shut."). Also: what was the irregularity with her shuttle? She was fainting/spitting blood, but she does that all the time and Teacher already knew she was sick.
- 8th (normal priests): Haven't been on screen much, not much to go on
- 9th (black priests): Why was Harrow's pod in Sanitizer? She was working in Transference/Winnowing, went out and left a blood sweat trail back to the atrium, down another hallway to Sanitizer, made a pod, then passed out? That doesn't make sense.



Steely Glint posted:

Spotting what Gideon tried to use as blackmail is a nice catch. The latter idea feels more likely to me, but why would Gideon hold Harrow responsible for the deaths? At age 2 Gideon probably wouldn't even remember anything.

I don't think this is the cause of them being frenemies, just something Gideon knows that wider society will wreck Harrow for. I could see zombie parents being not that bad since after her parents are dead, Harrow is the head of the 9th and can do whatever she wants with the bodies. She's signing the wrong name and doing some novel necromancy, but not actually exceeding her authority. Gideon remembering well enough and having enough proof to make people act is a problem with the idea though.


Rand Brittain posted:

It's definitely interesting that Teacher is all smiles and "of course you can all rise to Lyctorhood together" but is also all "by the way there are no rules." What is the intention behind this game?

I don't remember him ever emphasizing 'no rules', just that he wasn't going to teach them anything or tell them what to go look at. The implication kind of depends on what's considered normal behavior. Like a real world college class doesn't start with an explicit rule to not murder the other students to improve your spot on a grading curve.

Foxfire_ fucked around with this message at 18:39 on Aug 29, 2020

Idaholy Roller
May 19, 2009


Ianthe is 100% the powerful one, hot sister is just a foil

Steely Glint
Oct 28, 2011



Dinosaur Gum

Idaholy Roller posted:

Ianthe is 100% the powerful one, hot sister is just a foil
Absolutely. I think Coronabeth might have no necromantic ability at all, actually. See Ianthe referring to herself as "the necromancer of the Third House" when warning Gideon and also Coronabeth showing no sign of exertion during the attempt to call the Fifth ghosts back (because she's not actually doing anything, just waving her fingers around).

As an aside, although necromancy seems like a very scientific thing in this universe with all the theorems and books and lectures, Ianthe's near-death experience at her sister's cord(?) having some magical influence on why she's the better necro would make a certain sense. Going out on a limb because baseless speculation is fun, I can apply that theory to the dead/missing Ninth children to get the following: Harrow's not actually the old rulers' biological daughter. They were unable to conceive and wanted to secretly adopt a kid and pass them off as their successor. And also that kid needed to be a super talented necromancer, so they went and put all the children through near-death experiences. Too close, for 198 of them. Harrow was the only child who survived and she got lots of bone mojo as a result.

this is 99% just the ritual child murder stuff Foxfire_ brought up earlier, but with a grounding from potential textual hints at how/why such a ritual would work, plus a fun angsty tweest for Harrow

Some of the (many) problems with this version of events: why did they need a kid so abruptly, why did they need that kid to be an especially powerful necromancer, wouldn't everybody on the Ninth recognize the kid, why would they still try it on the older kids who couldn't possibly be passed off as fresh biological offspring, how'd Gideon and Ortus survive but not get powers, etc.

awesmoe
Nov 30, 2005



Pillbug

i've read the books so cant participate but just saying that I'm really enjoying the speculation that's going on so keep on everyone

Entropic
Feb 21, 2007

patriarchy sucks


awesmoe posted:

i've read the books so cant participate but just saying that I'm really enjoying the speculation that's going on so keep on everyone

Itís fun to see people guess some stuff right but also go down completely wrong tracks on other things.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Letís keep all the ďtalking about talkingĒ in the Locked Tomb thread where we can be more explicit.

Foxfire_
Nov 8, 2010



Rand Brittain posted:

It's definitely interesting that Teacher is all smiles and "of course you can all rise to Lyctorhood together" but is also all "by the way there are no rules." What is the intention behind this game?

Thinking about it, the Transference/Winnowing test is very different if people are cooperating. Instead of jumping to "I must posses Gideon's mind!", socially-adjusted Harrow just goes and gets one of the other necromancers to push the button to open the door, walks into the Response chamber herself, and melts the construct with no trouble.

Lyctor experiment in general seems to be about creating some way to be immortal vs aging and very resistant to other destruction. The group from the 2nd study seems to have been trying to do it with a regenerating construct + possibly some way to staple their mind to it (either moving to a new constructed body or animating+regenerating their own dead one). Depending on whether the note Gideon found is to or from them, they may have failed at it though.

Foxfire_ fucked around with this message at 19:31 on Aug 31, 2020

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Foxfire_ posted:

Thinking about it, the Transference/Winnowing test is very different if people are cooperating. Instead of jumping to "I must posses Gideon's mind!", socially-adjusted Harrow just goes and gets one of the other necromancers to push the button to open the door, walks into the Response chamber herself, and melts the construct with no trouble.


I'm not actually sure Harrow could have done it "with no trouble" while it was trying to kill her. There's a reason why necromancers are traditionally paired with cavaliers.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Anyway, let's move on a bit. Please read to the end of Chapter Twenty-Five.

Khizan
Jul 30, 2013



Foxfire_ posted:

Thinking about it, the Transference/Winnowing test is very different if people are cooperating. Instead of jumping to "I must posses Gideon's mind!", socially-adjusted Harrow just goes and gets one of the other necromancers to push the button to open the door, walks into the Response chamber herself, and melts the construct with no trouble.

I doubt this method would work that well. She'd have maybe a couple of seconds at best to both figure out how to destroy it and to actually implement the plan before the construct was on top of her with the boneswords, and if she fails at it then she's quite possibly dead. It works with a cavalier because they can survive the construct's assault long enough for the necromancer to work it out. Somebody less able's just gonna get mulched.

I suppose you could have a necromancer activate it and then another necromancer goes in with their two cavs to play bodyguard, but I feel like Harrow, at least, would consider this to be sort of... intellectually dishonest? As in, the point is to learn how to pass the test with the resources of a necromancer and a cavalier, and brute forcing it would be cheating.

Foxfire_
Nov 8, 2010



Khizan posted:

I doubt this method would work that well. She'd have maybe a couple of seconds at best to both figure out how to destroy it and to actually implement the plan before the construct was on top of her with the boneswords, and if she fails at it then she's quite possibly dead. It works with a cavalier because they can survive the construct's assault long enough for the necromancer to work it out. Somebody less able's just gonna get mulched.

I suppose you could have a necromancer activate it and then another necromancer goes in with their two cavs to play bodyguard, but I feel like Harrow, at least, would consider this to be sort of... intellectually dishonest? As in, the point is to learn how to pass the test with the resources of a necromancer and a cavalier, and brute forcing it would be cheating.


I figure she'd still poke it with skeletons first and watch from outside the window, then once she knows what to expect, Harrow and 20 of her closest skellington friends can buy the five seconds she says she needs to unravel it. The necromancer pushing the button can still abort if things start going bad. I just think it's funny that faced with a problem that seems to want a necromancer in two places, Harrow jumps straight to "Meat Puppet!" instead of "This is supposed to teach Lyctors to work together for the good of the Empire"

Steely Glint
Oct 28, 2011



Dinosaur Gum

RIP to the Fourth House. Honestly, at this point if it wasn't advertised as a murder mystery I'd assume that they awakened a malevolent collection of bones left over in the house from the time of the original Lyctor experiments that's taking revenge on the descendants of the people who were responsible for its creation or something.

Our first closed room murder! And a gruesome one at that. Although it's a bit less closed than a traditional mundane one, what with necromancy permitting theories that require some unknown scientific device X.

After setting up key collection as a prime motive, two people lacking any keys at all are killed. Did Magnus know he'd be killed for his key, so he stopped Jeannemary from holding on to hers? Could a culprit still be after keys, but simply not know who has which ones? (need to collate a list of who has which keys and who knows who has which keys) Why collect hatch keys, which seem to be interchangeable? (collect enough and stop people from interfering with something you're doing in the laboratories?)

What's up with the teeth? Teeth from many different corpses found in the incinerator and in the wounds on Magnus and Abigail. Harrow's hiding in a shell of teeth in Sanitation and Palamedes notes that she's really unbelievably good with teeth somehow. We also now have viewpoint confirmation that both Isaac and Jeannemary were killed with bones more generally (while Gideon conspicuously survives) -- is Harrow involved or is someone trying to frame her?

Speaking of Mr. Too Many Bones, its presence definitely rules out any theory with a cavalier as the sole culprit. Don't think there's any evidence to suggest any of the cavs are secretly necromancers too. And any necromancer that summoned it would need to be incredibly powerful and skilled with bones specifically, unless one of the theorems we haven't seen is titled "BONES 504: Advanced Seminar in Colossal Constructs". Writing, too, has been beyond any construct we've seen so far so presumably the necromancer responsible is either nearby, has line of sight with some hidden camera trick, or set up a way to remotely trigger the summoning somehow.

Incinerator containing cremated remains from various different bodies at various different times of death (but mostly around three months ago), confirmed by multiple different Houses. Protesilaus is missing, presumed dead. He's the one in the incinerator, but how? Palamedes established that the House was a temporal patchwork, so maybe the House is under some sort of spell that jumbles whatever thanergic signature they're using to date things. The House itself was actually built all at once, but the Emperor doesn't want anybody to know exactly when, and that spell bleeds over into our newly-inanimate corpses. Alternatively, there's some evidence to support Protesilaus having straight-up died three months ago and then been preserved like Harrow's parents: Dulcinea's specialty being the preservation of things just before/after death, Camilla noting that he's unusually reticent, brutish, and clumsy for a Seventh cavalier, the priests worrying over an anomaly of some kind on the Seventh shuttle (only one life signature?), his skin being gross and waxen. Motive-wise, the first fits more. I simply don't have a motive for Dulcinea to bring along a zombie while the Emperor being weird and inscrutable fits perfectly with his characterization thus far. However, there's one final piece of evidence. Well, sort of: Protesilaus shares his name with the first Greek to die in the Trojan War. I desperately want this to be deliberate, and he can only be the first person to die in Gideon if he was ~dead all along~

Foxfire_
Nov 8, 2010



I am 100% onboard with Frankensilaus theory. It also gives reasons for Dulcinea to be tired/fainting after landing (reanimating him after going through space) and Harrow to voluntarily go poke at him while they were walking to the life drain test (though that would mean Harrow is sending Gideon into the basement to look for him while being reasonably sure he's already ashes).

Still suspicious of Dulcinea though. I could believe she had him jump into the incinerator himself to avoid being outed in the duel. (Also, on reread, when the 8th necro is magicing at Abigail's body, it's starting to do stuff, then Dulcinea yells and Protesilaus interrupts)

For the locked room murder, my first guess is something invisible/spirity followed Gideon up from the basement and followed them in through the door. Dulcinea's wards around the life-drain test were supposed to detect invisible things, so we know they exist in the setting. If it needs to enter/leave via the door, it also couldn't kill both Gideon & Jeannemary or there'd be no one physical to unlock the door and get back out.

(Also if we've got ghosts floating around, not counting Abigail as 100% out since she's supposed to specialize in spirits. Continue existing as a ghost is on-brand for Lyctoral immortality research and combos well with the posses a living person/regenerating construct theorems)


e:

Key Motion
2nd:
- 2nd hatch key => 6th
- No more keys

3rd:
- 3rd hatch key: claimed to have, not seen

4th:
- 4th hatch key: not issued

5th:
- 5th hatch key => ???

6th:
- 6th hatch key
- 2nd => 2nd hatch key
- Golden theorem key: golden, elaborately carved shank, pockmarks instead of cuts in shaft

7th:
- 7th hatch key => ??? (not on ring taken by 8th)
- Grey theorem Key: thick grey, unpretentious teeth => 8th
- 9th => Avulsion key => 8th

8th:
- 8th hatch key
- Black theorem Key: black, wrought iron curlicues
- 7th => Avulsion key
- 7th => Grey theorem key

9th:
- 9th hatch key
- Response key: chunky & solid, scarlet, ornate clover shaped holes on handle
- Avulsion key: shining silvery white, austerely plain, single loop head, three simple teeth => 7th

3 keys unseen, Palamedes thinks he knows where all but one is (but is possibly double counting the Avulsion key)


Coronabeth not being a necromancer (at least on her own) seems well supported:
- She is uncertain about the remains in the incinerator, every other necromancer identifies them
- She doesn't join in the poking of the remains afterwards
- When she is trying to stop the duel - Ianthe: "what can you do?" Corona: "I can do nothing"
- Early on, every necromancer (even Abigail and Judith) is off doing stuff. Corona is hanging out in the training room.


Issac seems to have been subject to a purposeful spooking campaign. He says he's been seeing and hearing things ever since the 5ths murders
Issac and Jeannemary report seeing Protesilaus go down the hatch while they are stalkingtrailing people the night before he vanishes. If he's moving under his own power, it seems like he could still sneak up and jump in the incinerator. Easier to sneak himself than have someone carry a body

Steely Glint posted:

What's up with the teeth? Teeth from many different corpses found in the incinerator and in the wounds on Magnus and Abigail. Harrow's hiding in a shell of teeth in Sanitation and Palamedes notes that she's really unbelievably good with teeth somehow. We also now have viewpoint confirmation that both Isaac and Jeannemary were killed with bones more generally (while Gideon conspicuously survives) -- is Harrow involved or is someone trying to frame her?

Magnus and Abigail aren't teeth. They're tiny bits of bone from different sources and Palamedes is cut off before he can say what that implies. Harrow's pod isn't teeth either, it's one single piece of shaped bone that dissolves into chips and pebbles (which Palamedes finds fascinating for some reason). The one other place we have seen lots of teeth is in Dulcinea's ward outside avulsion, which was a spiral of teeth

Foxfire_ fucked around with this message at 05:23 on Sep 2, 2020

Foxfire_
Nov 8, 2010



If Frankensilaus, Dulcinea would be even more incapable of doing avulsion since she doesn't have a battery.

As for motive, if she can see, control, and cast through him remotely, Dulcinea+a telepresence zombie where she can sit in the garden all day is more effective than her+a normal cav that she has to limp after, especially if her cav options were poor to begin with. Counterpoint is that if she wasn't being sneaky about it, she could have a telepresence zombie and a normal cavalier.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Steely Glint
Oct 28, 2011



Dinosaur Gum

Foxfire_ posted:

Magnus and Abigail aren't teeth. They're tiny bits of bone from different sources and Palamedes is cut off before he can say what that implies. Harrow's pod isn't teeth either, it's one single piece of shaped bone that dissolves into chips and pebbles (which Palamedes finds fascinating for some reason). The one other place we have seen lots of teeth is in Dulcinea's ward outside avulsion, which was a spiral of teeth

Thanks for the correction (and for that list of keys); that's even more evidence that Dulcinea was puppeting Protesilaus (and more of a connection between Harrow and the murders, hm). That makes her less likely to be the culprit, though, since if she were then why burn her incredibly useful remote-control cavalier instead of simply murdering the Eighth team?

I think it's relatively safe to say now that it's the theorems more than the trials themselves that are key to the Lyctor process*. That's hard to reconcile with the idea that the laboratories are where the original Lyctors ascended. If the theorems powering the trials (regeneration in Response, coterminous spell invocation in Avulsion) are what makes a Lyctor, then surely everyone involved in building the trial rooms already knew enough to ascend. If the laboratories are purpose-built reconstructions, though, then why were the First priests terrified of going down there and why did the Fourth kids sense mass death in the Sanitizer room? There were lots of names (on a shift board, presumably) and lab coats implying serious scientific cooperation towards the discovery of these theorems, so I don't think the answer's something like "the Emperor set up all the trials so he could distribute his theorems to those he deemed worthy".

* The trials still might be important psychologically. Take Avulsion, for example. It's a dangerous feat of necromancy that involves hurting somebody you care for, just not forbidden knowledge. Maybe the trials have been set up to weed people out who aren't willing to use the theorems in the necessary way?

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply