Thursday, December 17, 2009

Rosie's Riveters: Mark W & Jaelle

Rosie the RiveterRosie's Riveters is a weekly posting written by Booklust readers about riveting females in literature. Many readers have strong reactions to the women in the books they read- either very positive or very negative. These are the characters we find riveting, for good reasons or bad ones, and they form the population of Rosie's Riveters. Through this weekly post, we can discuss females we love to hate, or love to love. And maybe, just maybe- we can determine why we react so strongly to them.

I am no longer accepting people to participate in the Rosie's Riveters series.  The participants I currently have on the list will all have their chance to share their favorite or most hated woman, and then we shall start the new
With Reverent Hands
series on this blog.  More details on With Reverent Hands can be found in my Sunday Salon post here.

This week's poster is Mark W, who blogs at Cinders in Spain.  Mark always leaves very insightful and thoughtful comments on the blogs he reads, and he's one of those people that you know spends a great deal of time and effort on the blogs he follows.  That is greatly appreciated and his thoughtfulness comes through in his own blog, where he reviews books, yes, but also veers off into movies, chess games and all sorts of other information.
Who is your Riveter?

Which books does she feature in?
The Fionavar Tapestry, by Guy Gavriel Kay, comprising The Summer Tree, The Wandering Fire and The Darkest Road.

Do you love her or hate her?
I definitely love her – though at least partly, because it’s not obvious that I (we) should (see below), and it took me a while...
The Fionavar Tapestry
Describe her personality- how would you describe her to a friend?
When it comes to Jaelle, this is one of the hardest of the standard questions, which is one of the reasons I love her.  To have a stab at it, she’s extremely intelligent, and also extremely clever: these two attributes don’t necessarily mean the same thing (and they don’t necessarily make someone lovable (see above), although they do contribute to making someone “riveting” (see above, and, below,– hopefully!)).  Part of that intelligence, though, is the realization her own pre-existing (however justified) views aren’t necessarily the be all and end all of the world, and that others can teach her things...

Can you compare her to a celebrity?
Arrgh.  I very rarely watch TV or films (except well behind the times when catching up on DVD boxsets), so I’m rather at a loss here.  Whenever I think of “red hair and intelligence” I tend to think of Julianne Moore, who I admire hugely as an actress, but who doesn’t really fit, in the tail-end of 2009, Jaelle on (arrgh – my god, it pains me massively to say this) age grounds (only because part of what makes Jaelle so riveting is the fact that she’s so very young...)  A slightly younger Julianne Moore, then...

What makes her riveting?
She’s human.  Her fury in Chapter 5 of The Summer Tree is justified, and yet she (possibly) acquiesces in the (possibly) patronizing way Diarmuid employs to diffuse the situation.   Later, after Paul’s sacrifice on The Summer Tree, Jaelle tells Paul that, “There is mercy in the Goddess sometimes, but not gentleness.”  And yet later, she will witness things that make her question and ultimately reject such certainties…
What do you most admire/despise about her?
What I’ve (hopefully) alluded to above.  Jaelle, as a very young, very intelligent, very clever young woman in a patriarchical world, is yet clever enough, in the face of impending apocalypse, to modify her stance, and her actions, while yet remaining true to herself.  The scene in The Wandering Fire when Paul has entered the water while Jaelle watches, is perhaps the best example: her final two words (I think – I’ve lent the book out), “Weaver forfend,” are perhaps two of the most blub-making words in the entire trilogy...

Would you recommend reading the books in which the Riveter features?
Good heavens, yes.  Apart from the very skilful way Paul and Jaelle’s relationship is covered in the first two books, only a maniac would surely not want to see how things turn out in Volume 3???

Do you have a quote by or about your Riveter that you'd like to share?
I’ve covered them above, more or less, without getting too spoilery, I think.  I’m reluctant to say any more – anyone who hasn’t read the books should see for themselves how what they may initially think is a clich├ęd “ice queen”, is, in fact, nothing of the sort, but, rather, one of the finest, most admirable, and most interesting, female characters in fiction...


  1. Guy Gavriel Kay is sort of a big deal here in Canada so you can only imagine what a delight this is for a book geek like me. A truly “riveting” Riveter Mark.
    Warmest regards,

  2. Simone,

    Thank you -- and Canada is right, Kay should be as big everywhere as he is there!



  3. It's been many years since I read The Fionavar Tapestry but now, thanks to Mark, I really need to read it again! Thank you for the refresher...and yes Guy Gavriel Kay should be known everywhere! (Yep, I'm canadian too) I talk about him most when talking about authors. He is nothing short of epic!

  4. I have heard so much about these books, but as of yet, I don't own them nor have I read them. This was an excellent post and now I have put this collection on the top of my wish list. It sounds like an incredible set of reads. I am looking forward to it!

  5. Jackie,

    I think "He is nothing short of epic" is spot on -- The Fionavar Tapestry is "operatic High Fantasy" epic, if you will (it's fair to say that it wouldn't exist without Lord of the Rings (and Kay worked on the Silmarrillion, of course) but personally I prefer the Tapestry to LoTR, in large part because of characters like Jaelle); while his later works are historical fantasy epics, but either way, he's "epic" in all the best senses of the word, without any of the negative connotations of eleven-volume trilogies or anything...


  6. Zibilee,

    It is indeed an incredible set of reads: obviously, every person has their own set of things they respond to, and their own set of characters and situations that will effect them, but personally, I can't name any three books that have made me blub as much...(This is a good thing, as far as I'm concerned, fiction should make you feel something!)



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