To make up for last chapter having no Ren pov, this one is nothing but Ren pov. As with the previous one, that isn’t so much a conscious decision as the result of how the Great Rearrangement of Part Two ended up going. But it’s good to have, since while we’ve got multiple viewpoint characters in this series, Ren is undoubtedly the most central of the lot.
This chapter features a scene which . . . well, look. We knew we wanted to have X happen, so, cool, that’s the point of this scene. Let’s come up with some context to embed it in. Aaaaaand by the time we were done with the context, that had become the point of the scene, with the original mission being a side note that gets dealt with along the way. Not coincidentally, a scene I thought would be less than 2K wound up 3400 words long. (This was part of what prompted the Great Rearrangement.) It’s all good stuff; we came up with a bit of worldbuilding that lets us tie several things together in a way the book very much benefits from. But it was quite unexpected, as a simple “we need to set up this later meeting” conversation turned into a contest with deep political and theological implications.
And that’s only the first half of the chapter! The second half winds up pulling the curtain back on one or two of the few major elements of the long-term plot that we actually didn’t plan from the start. In general, if you’re reading this series and wonder “omg, did the authors have this planned all along?,” the answer is yes. We had a much clearer roadmap for this trilogy than either of us normally does, so there’s a lot of stuff — not just major but minor — that we always knew we were going to do, and seeded hints of along the way. But there were two significant decisions we made while drafting The Liar’s Knot that weren’t in the original game plan, one of which comes to the forefront here and sets up a bit with the other. (If you’ve read the Doppelganger books, it’s a bit like the moment where Satomi says “Wrong” to Miryo: I didn’t see that coming until I typed it, and it wound up being so pivotal to the end of the first book, I honestly don’t know how things would have played out without it.)
Word count: 87,000
Authorial sadism: Yanking a certain character out of the story, with nobody — the other characters included — being sure what’s happened to him.
Authorial amusement: Speaking of things we didn’t plan for, one side character who was a complete non-entity until he abruptly spoke up at the end of book two has a pleasingly excellent moment here.
BLR quotient: More politicking and the aforementioned worldbuilding addition, so rhetoric pulls ahead.