The Cloud Roads Read Along Part 1

Welcome to the read along of The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells!

In The Cloud Roads, Moon has spent his entire life hiding the fact that he’s a shapeshifter who can transform into a winged, scaled form. He has only vague memories of where he came from and doesn’t even know his own species. He tries to fit in among the villages he travels through, but he’s always forced to move on.  Until one day, just as he’s being kicked out of the latest village, he finds another shapeshifter like him, Stone, who wants to take him to a shapeshifter (Raksura) community. Moon is wary of the offer, but he goes along and finds out that Stone wasn’t telling him everything….

This week covers chapters 1-5, and I’ve provided the questions for this week. Banner credits should be given to Anya. If you’re interested in joining, just go comment on the Goodreads thread. My answer’s to this week’s questions and potential spoilers are under the cut.

1. What do you think of the world Martha Wells has created? First time readers, do you find it more difficult to get a handle on than fantasy worlds more closely tied to Earth?

I really love that the landscapes and cultures don’t seem to be lifted from a time or place in Earth’s history. This world doesn’t even have humans! It just feels so original and new. So far in The Cloud Roads, we’ve seen only hints of this world’s breadth and history, including the ruins on the Floating Islands and the giant statues near Indigo Cloud.

2. From Moon’s internal narration, it can be clear that his experience with the Cordans has not been uncommon. Do you agree with Moon’s decision to try and make a life among them? What about the Cordans’ ousting of him?

Moon seems desperate to find some form of home, family and acceptance. But he’s assumed to be Fell and attacked and driven off whenever the truth of his shifted form is discovered. Yet, I can understand why he keeps trying. He can sort of give off the vibe of a brooding loner, but at heart he wants community more than anything else.

As for the Cordans, they seem driven by fear and ignorance more than anything else. Moon’s been living among them for months and hasn’t hurt anyone, but they still turn on him at the slightest suspicion that he’s Fell.

Ilane’s betrayal seems to have hit Moon hard, even as he acts like he’s accustomed to it. From what I can tell, Ilane and Selis both share something of Moon’s outside status. That plus the patriarchal requirements of the Cordan culture stuck them together. My guess is that Ilane’s trying to up her status in the group and gain more acceptance by turning on Moon.

Also, from the little I saw of her, Selis seems awesome.

3. What are your initial impressions of Indigo Cloud? Do you think Moon made the right choice in coming along with Stone?

I’m currently up to date on the series, so it’s been really interesting to go back and read this book. They do give off the air of being on their last leg, but the hilled structure of the Court and the way their community is organized is still fascinating.

As for the characters, Stone is the best cranky grandpa. Chime didn’t make much of an impression my first time reading, but now I’ve grown to love him as well.

The Raksura have all been pretty snarky, haven’t they? Even that unnamed one who said “What are River and Drift doing here? I thought they were too good for us.” But Stone seems to hold the trophy for snarkmaster.

I think Moon definitely made the right choice in coming with Stone. Sure there’s some suspicious stuff with the Fell going on (see next question), but this is his best shot at finding a community of his own.

4. We’ve had only a glimpse of the Fell, but they’re clearly bad news. What do you think is going on with the Fell’s offer of a treaty?

I’ve read this book before, but honestly I can’t remember what is going on here exactly. What ever it is, I’m in agreement with the Raksura. What is Pearl thinking? The Fell are these evil flying shapeshifters who eat Raksura and groundlings. And Pearl thinks she can sign a treaty with them? Good luck.

The more ominous question is what’s the Fell’s game plan? Lure Indigo Cloud into a false sense of safety before an attack? They’ve got to know that most of the Court would still be suspicious. There has to be more at play here.

Any other thoughts?

Rereading The Cloud Roads is reminding me of how much I love these books and characters. My first time reading it, I remember having a hard time connecting to any of the characters. Then sometime around book three everything just clicked for me, so I’m really enjoying returning to where everything began.

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