Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Keeper of the Lost Cities Book #6 Nightfall Kindle Notes

These are the passages that I marked in my Kindle book.  The passages were marked either because I felt they contained significant information or because I simply found them interesting or amusing. 

These passages contain significant spoilers.  Do not read any of this post unless you have already read this book.   


Page 9   "What about the mind reading thing?" her sister asked.  "One of them said he was listening for nearby thoughts as he searched the house, so I thought about darkness and silence just in case."  "That was really smart," Sophie told her, stunned she had managed to pull that off.

Page 20   "I gave her—and her parents—a basic understanding of our language before we relocated them," Alden explained.  "In case something like this ever happened.  Communication can be a powerful weapon, and an essential defense."

Page 28   "The Black Swan's Technopath has scrambled our signals for the next few hours.  But we can only pull that trick so many times, and this apartment is an incredibly valuable secret.  Tremendous lengths were taken to keep this fifty-first floor concealed—and how long do you think it would take before the Council came to investigate why you've been frequenting this building?"

Page 40   "Eighteen years," Alden repeated.  "You must've been one of their founders."  "Actually, the Black Swan has been around far longer than anyone realizes," Livvy told him.  "But Forkle brought me in to help with Project Moonlark and—"

Page 41   "My role was preparing Sophie's embryo for implantation in her human mother," Livvy continued, "and making sure her mother's body would accept the baby as though it were her own."

Page 41   "Why did you choose my parents?" she asked, remembering what her sister had heard the Neverseen say.  "Was there something special about them?"  "Yes, and no.  They were special because they weren't special, if that makes sense.  We needed you to keep a low profile in the human world, so we searched for a family who didn't seem like the type to use your intelligence or beauty for their advantage."

Page 42   But Alden was focused on a much bigger revelation.  "So… you knew Prentice was innocent when I arrested him?"  Livvy closed her eyes.  "Yes."

Page 43   "What was he investigating?" Sophie asked.  "Honestly?  I have no idea," Livvy admitted.  "We didn't share as much back then.  It was safer to keep everything compartmentalized."

Page 43   "Quinlin noticed discrepancies in Prentice's records.  Times when his registry pendant claimed he was at his post as Beacon of the Gold Tower, but he wasn't actually there.  So I started watching closer."  "Livvy frowned at her husband.  "You never told me you had anything to do with Prentice's arrest."  "And you never told me the Black Swan were on our side!" Quinlin snapped back.

Page 45   "The point of having her born from humans was to let her gain a unique perspective on the species—the kind of perspective she could only acquire by truly believing she was one of them during her formative years.  If the Council dragged her back to the Lost Cities, everything we'd worked for would've been a waste."

Page 50   "So I kept it to myself—until I met Forkle.  And after he heard my story, he brought me to meet the rest of the Black Swan and showed me their idea to fix the problem between elves and humans—and asked for my assistance."

Page 50   "That's up to you.  It's one of my favorite things about Project Moonlark.  We created you, yes.  But your life is still yours.  You get to decide what you want to do with it."

Page 92   "And that is why we can't let anyone know you're here," Livvy told Amy.  "Contact with humans is now expressly forbidden—though our order felt that was a mistake, which is partly why we arranged for Sophie to be raised by a human family."

Page 93   "Don't worry—we don't blame you," Livvy said when she noticed Amy's frown.  "No one should be held accountable for their ancestors' mistakes, so long as they learn from them."

Page 93   "It has a secret wardrobe passage?" Sophie asked as Livvy twisted a hidden knob and revealed a narrow doorway that led to a lush, airy conservatory lit with twinkling lights.

Page 93   "Are you kidding?" Amy interrupted.  "I'm totally taking the Narnia room!"

Page 96   But when Sophie finally gave up and agreed to let Alden take her home, Livvy did add, "You're going to be angry.  And none of us will blame you for that.  But try to remember that it was Mr. Forkle's request to have us wait."

Page 122   "Do I?  Then you'll need to be clearer.  Unless…" Her voice trailed off, and when she spoke again, the words shook with a barely bridled rage.  "How many humans have they taken?"

Page 122   "They took my human parents."  Lady Gisela swore under her breath.  "I suppose they do love to make things personal."  "To keep me distracted, right?" Sophie asked.  "Sounds like the moonlark is finally learning to ask the right questions."

Page 124   "Neither," Sophie told her.  "He died when he attacked Councillor Oralie."  Lady Gisela barked a laugh.  "She took him out?  Miss ringlets and rosy cheeks?  I'm not sure I believe that."  "She had help."  And no way was Sophie telling her about what happened to Mr. Forkle in the process.

Page 125   "None of this is going the way I wanted it to" was the only answer Lady Gisela gave—which wasn't much of an answer at all.

Page 130   "Wise decision," Lady Gisela told her.  "I hope this is proof that you're realizing I'm not your enemy."

Page 133   Lady Gisela interrupted.  "I won't claim that some part of me hasn't loved watching Dimitar suffer for his alliance with Fintan."

Page 157   "You're not in your rock-dude disguise," Keefe noted.  "Did you get sick of getting pebbles stuck in uncomfortable places?"

Page 162   "Aren't you coming?" he asked when none of them followed.  Everyone looked to Sophie to go first—the wimps.

Page 165   "Did Fitzphie become an actual thing?"  "I don't even know what 'Fitzphie' is supposed to mean," Tiergan noted.

Page 170   "To ensure that the two elves who donated their DNA for the project never met.  Anonymity was essential to protect their identities."  "But you know who they are?" Sophie had to ask.  "Actually, Mr. Forkle kept your genetic father's and mother's identities entirely to himself—though that information hasn't been lost."

Page 171   "On a scale of one to ten," she whispered as they started up the corkscrew staircase, "how bad is this going to be?"  "Quite honestly, Sophie, I have no idea how you're going to react.  But I'm here for whatever you need, whether it's a shoulder to cry on or someone to scream at."

Page 174   "Am I supposed to feel sorry for you?  Poor Mr. Forkle—faking your death must've been so hard."

Page 176   Mr. Forkle hadn't necessarily been a father figure.  But he'd often taken care of her.  And sometimes, he'd even made her believe he cared.

Page 177   "But I beg you not to try to guess it.  Our existence was seamless.  Anything we ever said or did came from both of us, even though only one of us was present in that moment."

Page 177   "We always considered each other before we made decisions—and we updated each other on everything.  Before we manifested as Telepaths, we made it a habit of staying up late, rehashing every detail of our days.  And once we could connect our minds, we started swapping memories fully—holding nothing back.  So, when you were with him, it was no different than if you were with me."

Page 177   "Because it was either share a life, or face the scorn of identical twins.  And back when we were born, our world was even more restrictive than what you see now.  We never would've been allowed to attend Foxfire, or been invited to join the nobility—"

Page 178   "When I made my surprise appearance—two minutes and twelve seconds after my brother made his—my parents had to make a choice.  And they chose this."

Page 178   He lifted the swollen folds around his neck, revealing a registry pendant set onto a strained silver chain.  "Technically, the feed this crystal generates isn't mine, and never has been.  But it's the only life I've ever known.  My mother told me once that if we'd been fraternal twins, she would've simply tucked me away and faked a second pregnancy.  But we were identical.  They could never register me without my DNA giving us away."

Page 179   "But had we come forward, our parents would've been exiled for falsifying registry records—and my brother and I would've become the ultimate pariahs."

Page 179   "So we mastered the art of disguise.  But every role was played by both of us.  We also began to study genetics, trying to determine if there was a reason for our world's prejudices against multiple births."

Page 180   Sophie sat up straighter.  "I always assumed you were the one who founded the order."  "Many have assumed that.  But the seeds were in place long before our inception.  This tower is proof of that.  All we did was help shape the existing members into a true organization."

Page 180   "You never kept any secrets?"  "We couldn't.  Our life would've collapsed.  That's why even with his final breaths, my brother made sure there would be no gaps in my memories."

Page 181   "My brother recorded everything he saw at the Peace Summit, as well as his showdown with Gethen and Brant to protect Councillor Oralie.  Even his farewell to you is there, to make sure I knew everything.  Right up to the end."

Page 181   "Mostly it involves me learning to do less, since I'll have to shoulder the burden alone now.  I don't think either of us truly believed this would be our reality, but… here we are."

Page 182   "And then, of course, there's simply the challenge of being me.  My brother was my balance—and I was his.  I'm not sure how I'll get anything done without having him question everything I'm thinking.  It feels like I've been left with a hollow body and only half a brain, and…"

Page 183   "What am I supposed to call you?" she asked.  "The same things you always have, Miss Foster.  I'm still him.  I always have been.  And I will be, until it's my turn to draw my last breath, should that day happen."

Page 184   "We wanted to commemorate our shared life the same way we lived it—together, and just outside the bounds of our world."

Page 184   "Everyone who heard about my death will have to know the truth about my brother, otherwise they'll wonder why Magnate Leto is still at Foxfire, and why Sir Astin will sometimes appear in the Lost Cities, and why this bloated body will still be an active part of the Collective."

Page 185   What if the better brother was gone, and all that was left was the cranky guy who wrote confusing notes and grumbled about "you kids"?

Page 185   But all he did was gently pull the glove off, careful not to touch her skin as he pointed to the small star-shaped mark on the back of her hand.  "I'm the one who gave you this."  Her breath caught.  "You were the one who healed my abilities?"  "I was.  And I wish I'd managed the process better."

Page 186   Mr. Forkle had given her a choice about the risk she'd be taking, making it clear she could go on just as she was if she didn't want to face the danger.  He'd also taken the time to answer one very important question to set her mind at ease.  And afterward, when the Neverseen dropped out of the sky to steal Silveny, it was Mr. Forkle who'd charged in to protect her, along with several dwarves.

Page 186   For several seconds she cried alone.  Then warm, pudgy arms pulled her into a ruckleberry-scented embrace, and she clung to Mr. Forkle as her tears soaked his wrinkled tunic and he whispered the only two words that made her feel any better.  "I'm here."

Page 188   Sophie was sure he'd probably been hoping the elf in front of them was the one who pulled them away from their kidnappers in Paris, but that seemed to have been the other brother.  But the Forkle still with them was the one who'd been there—as Magnate Leto—the day the Council forced Sophie to wear the ability restrictor that Dex had been tricked into designing.

Page 188   Mr. Forkle seemed so genuinely surprised by the discovery that Sophie wondered if Tam had taken a reading of the other brother the last time.  But Tam didn't ask.

Page 189   Linh wanted to know if either of the Forkles had ever regretted hiding that they were twins.  And Mr. Forkle had taken her hands and reminded her that his choice hadn't really been a choice.  But he also went on and on about how proud he was of Linh and Tam for standing up to their parents.

Page 189   "Keeping your promise, I see," Mr. Forkle said, smiling sadly at Keefe.  "Not that I ever doubted it."  During his final moments, the other Mr. Forkle had made Keefe promise that he wouldn't let the tragedy break Sophie.

Page 189   He turned to Tiergan.  "Any life-changing pieces of information you've been holding back?"  Tiergan shuffled his feet.  "No one ever reveals everything."  "I take it that's a yes?" Fitz pressed.  "How did this become about me?" Tiergan waved his arms toward Mr. Forkle.  "If it helps, I can assure you that I don't have a secret identical twin."

Page 192   Mr. Forkle nodded, then turned away, clearing the thickness from his throat.  "You kids are going to make me cry."  And with the oh-so-familiar first words—words that had long been Mr. Forkle’s trademark—everyone else found themselves fighting back tears too.

Page 193   "I once thought the creatures cruel for abandoning their young that way, leaving them without any guidance or protection."  His eyes focused on Sophie, and she nodded.  She'd actually wrestled with trusting the Black Swan at first, knowing they'd similarly left her to struggle among humans.

Page 193   "What I am sure of is that while they leave the fledglings to fend for themselves, they're also always there, just out of sight, urging them on.  That's why I agreed to name our plan Project Moonlark when Calla suggested it—not because you would be alone, Miss Foster.  But because I intended to make sure you never truly would be.  I would always be somewhere close by, guiding you however I could.

Page 195   "No.  I want you to go to Everglen and tell Alden and Della to head to your house for an announcement.  And then leap to Eternalia and tell Councillor Oralie the same.  Your mother already knows to bring your father over," he told Dex.

Page 197   But when it came to game-changing secrets, the Black Swan would always be the best.

Page 199   Apparently, the late Mr. Forkle had told Oralie how to contact the Black Swan, and Wraith had snuck into the ruins and brought the body back to one of the Black Swan's hideouts, where Physic made sure it was given a proper burial.

Page 199   Her jeweled circlet was noticeably absent from her ringletted blond hair as she whispered, "Can you ever forgive me?"  Mr. Forkle moved to her side and reached for her fragile, shaking hand.  "There's nothing to forgive, Oralie.  I would've made the same choice my brother did in that moment.  And you're an Empath, so you know I'm telling the truth."

Page 201   "I'm already on your side," Oralie whispered, reaching up to trace the part of her forehead where her circlet usually rested.

Page 201   "You should also know that the balance in the Council is shifting.  Those who mistrust your order are finding their voices overruled.  I suspect Councillor Emery will be contacting your Collective soon about truly joining forces."

Page 202   "I feel the need to emphasize exactly how dangerous the information in those caches could be," Oralie said when she'd finished.  "And if you do manage to access it, I hope you'll notify me."

Page 207   Oralie moved to leave then, holding a shimmering pendant up to the light.  "It’s incredibly good to see you," she told Mr. Forkle, choking slightly on the words.  He cleared his throat.  "It's good to be seen."

Page 217   "But Blur's living situation has grown slightly complicated."

Page 224   "Okay, first: I want you to let me mentor a session on ogres at Foxfire—one that all prodigies are required to attend in order to come to a proper understanding of their ways."  "And what makes you think I have the power to grant that?" Mr. Forkle asked.

Page 224   "But technically my title is Master Cadence.  I was appointed as the Beacon of the Silver Tower to replace Master Leto when he was appointed as principal of Foxfire.  And the funny thing about being Beacon is that there's actually very little for me to do.  So I've taken to exploring the tower, and I found something rather interesting on the roof.  Do you know what's up there?"

Page 224   "I climbed through all the clutter to investigate, and it seems someone used it as another greenhouse.  The soil in the troughs looked freshly churned, so I dredged it, to make sure my prodigies hadn't been harvesting anything dangerous."  Her eyes locked with Mr. Forkle's.  "Someone was growing ruckleberries."

Page 227   "I had a feeling it wasn't."  Mr. Forkle reached up to rub his temples.  "Am I to assume you're suggesting an ogre–Black Swan alliance?"

Page 228   "The ogre rebels who attacked Havenfield were there for me."  "How can you be so sure?" Sophie asked.  Dimitar had implied the same thing when she saw him at the Peace Summit—but he didn't have any proof.  "I can be sure," Lady Cadence said, setting down her tea, "because Dimitar's soldiers caught the ogre who got away."

Page 229   "Exactly.  That's the treachery of greed.  Everything stops being about logic and becomes a simple matter of who tells you what you most want to hear."

Page 232   "I'm a risk-taker, Cadence, but you've found my limit."

Page 233   "Won't you be joining us?" Lady Cadence asked.  "I… have other matters to attend to."  He probably did—but Sophie wondered if he also didn't want Dimitar seeing him alive, in case he was in contact with Fintan.

Page 236   "I know!  Our little girl is growing up and getting so snarky!" Keefe pretended to wipe his teary eyes.  "I've never been so proud."

Page 237   "Certain truths are reserved until our prodigies are mature enough to process them.  And some are restricted to the elite levels, for those preparing to enter the nobility."  "Does that mean anyone who doesn't qualify for the elite levels won't learn the whole truth about our world?" Sophie asked.

Page 238   "So then… even the Councillors don't know our complete history, do they?" she asked.  "They know everything they need to know," Grady assured her.  "How can you be so sure?  I mean… we have an escaped prisoner running around, plotting creepy stuff with the Neverseen—and, according to Oralie, the Councillors don't even know who she is."

Page 239   "Every horrible thing my dad ever said to me came from his twisted idea of love.  He was a jerk because he cared—or thought he did.  We all know the only person he actually cares about is himself."  The words felt too raw to touch.  Keefe cleared his throat.  "I just overshared, didn't I?"

Page 276   Amy told her that she and Quinlin had been going through human newspaper articles about the fires, and they'd found that twenty of the burned areas were experiencing an unprecedented regrowth of rare wildflowers—which seemed way too perfect of a number to be a natural occurrence.

Page 289   "Go for servitude," Blur told her, right before a huge wave hit the prow and drenched him head to toe.  For the briefest moment, his features were outlined by the water—and while Sophie didn't recognize him, his full lips and round cheeks felt strangely familiar.

Page 296   "From you.  I found the reports on ogre culture that you sent the Council while you were living in Ravagog.  Looks like Alvar was stashing them so no one would read them."  Lady Cadence sighed.  "I knew I shouldn't have trusted that arrogant child."

Page 338   "Mommy issues alert!" Ro said.  "Though I get it.  I met your mom once, and after about five minutes I was begging my dad to let me stomp her."

Page 359   "The thing you need to understand, Sophie, is that sometimes we have to break so we can rebuild ourselves into something stronger.  Look at me.  Fintan thought sending me to prison would destroy me."

Page 375   "And I apologize for violating the rules of telepathy again—but you've been staring at the same spot on the wall for more than an hour and I needed to reassure myself that you weren't having a mental breakdown."

Page 387   "Except proof that Keefe's dad is even more ridiculous than my father," Tam added.  "Do you know he has an entire room dedicated to himself, complete with a life-size statue made of lumenite?  It glows, guys.  I'm going to have nightmares about it."  "So did Keefe."  He'd told Sophie he used to dream it was going to come alive and eat him.

Page 391   "So… they grew different plants in different environments and then burned them," Tam said as Livvy collected more samples.  "And they all have something to do with sleep."

Page 400   "Everyone knows, Sophie.  You were the only one I used to wonder about.  You can be kinda oblivious when it comes to this stuff."  "I'm not oblivious," Sophie argued.  Biana raised one eyebrow.

Page 451   "All these decisions we keep questioning, like the prejudice against multiple births and the ban on Pyrokinesis?  Those are all things Fallon probably decided."

Page 472   "Bronte told us that Councillor Alina had to go to Exile and use her ability as a Beguiler to calm Prentice down before transport," she said quietly.  "I remember wondering if she might've done something to Prentice that caused him to slip away."

Page 480   "Why would the Neverseen make a bunch of soporidine?"  "I'm guessing the obvious answer is: to drug a lot of people," Physic said, tilting her head to study Alvar's pale face.

Page 481   "I never thought I'd say this," Lady Cadence said, "but I think you might be overestimating my importance."

Page 483   She could barely find enough voice to say, "Does this mean the Council gave Prentice soporidine?"  "I… don't know," Physic admitted.  "The vitals match—but how would they have had any to use?"  "No clue," Sophie said.  "But if they did…"

Page 493   "I tested Prentice this morning.  And I didn't find any marks like what's on Alvar's heel."  Sophie was trying to decide if she was relieved, when Physic added, "But there was a small glowing dot in the center of his palm.  So he was definitely exposed to soporidine."

Page 494   "I didn't do anything to Prentice," Bronte said calmly.  "And for the record, neither did Emery or Alina.  Or Terik—though I'd think his injury in Lumenaria would be proof enough that he's not involved with the Neverseen, without my needing to say so."

Page 496   You're sure the Councillors weren't involved? she transmitted to Mr. Forkle.  Yes, Miss Foster, he transmitted back.  I am.  I bent the rules of telepathy a bit during my interrogations and combed through all of their minds much more carefully than they realized.  And I was able to dredge up each of their memories of that day—and none of them gave me any reason to doubt their integrity.

Page 498   "And he didn't say anything to Quinlin during their private meeting, did he?" Alden asked Physic.  She shrugged.  "I'm sure if he had, Quinlin would've investigated."

Page 503   When she didn't respond, a prickle of cold scraped across her mind, as if something dark was crawling along her impenetrable mental shield.  Her eyes snapped into focus and she found Bronte crouched in front of her, his hands clutching her shoulders.  "Thought that might get your attention," he said without any hint of a smile.

Page 506   "I assure you, I have no ulterior motive," Bronte promised, turning back to the wall of windows.  "I'm just an old fool longing for the past."  Sophie glanced at her friends, glad to see shock in their expressions, as if they were all thinking, Who is this stranger and what has he done with Councillor Bronte?

Page 507   Bronte smirked.  "I love how you think I don't know that she's staying somewhere in Atlantis.  And relax.  How many times do you need me to assure you that the girl is safe?"  Alden cleared his throat.  "It's… unlike you."  "Or perhaps you don't know me as well as you think," Bronte countered, before turning back to Sophie.

Page 541   "Fintan discovered what I was up to.  He didn't like that Cyrah knew about my connection to the order, even after I'd assured him that she understood that both her husband's life—and her son's—were on the line if she betrayed our agreement.  Evidently that wasn't good enough for him, so he was the one who got rid of her—without telling me."

Page 541   "I've never worked out exactly what happened, but I saw Cyrah's expression shift as she stepped into the light.  One second all was well.  The next she looked pained and panicked.  And when I turned to Gethen, he was sweaty and shaking.  I confronted Fintan about it later, and all he told me was that I'd gotten sloppy—and I suppose I should've seen it for the warning it was."

Page 553   He sighed, running a swollen hand down his face.  "Because one of the words I do recognize in this journal is 'human.'  Over and over.  And given how things deteriorated between our species, it's unsettling to know our side has a secret that's managed to stay buried for millennia—a secret connected to a prisoner so horrible, the Council erased her from their memories."

Page 572   "An ogre party boat?" Ro asked.  "I believe they're calling it a research vessel," Tiergan noted.  "Not once I get there."  She wrapped her arm around Keefe's shoulder and messed up his hair.  "Have fun with your chaperone."

Page 580   But the small wood-paneled room was still crammed with all five members of the Collective—though Tiergan had left behind his rocky disguise for the day.  Quinlin and Livvy had also arranged to leave Amy with Grady and Edaline in order to join them.  And Alden, Della, Fitz, Keefe, Tam, and Linh had all clumped together, their expressions as mixed as Sophie's tangled emotions.

Page 584   The redhead waited for her on the shore of a glassy lake, surrounded by swaying grassy plants that looked like glittery cattails.  And Sophie recognized her even before she smiled her achingly familiar smile.  Cyrah?

Page 605   Ro batted her eyelashes.  "Hey, it's not my fault if someone gets their foot broken while trying to trip me."  "It is if you stomp on them as hard as you can," Magnate Leto argued.  His usually sleek hair looked much more disheveled than usual as he led the way into his triangular office.

Page 606   "By the way, love what you've done with the place, Leto."  "I'm sure you do."  Magnate Leto sank into his own chair, which was more of an upholstered throne now.  "You're welcome for making it so you don't have to stare at ten thousand reflections of yourself every day," Keefe told him.

Page 608   "Wow, subtlety is not your thing," Ro told her.  "So let's end the misery—I already know this guy is the Forklenater.  Took me about two seconds to figure it out after I met him.  The berries might mask his scent for your noses—or his."  She grinned at Sandor.  "But one whiff and I was like, come on, who are we kidding?"

Page 608   "Nope.  He'll respect you more if you tell him yourself.  And I never thought I'd say this, but… I want you guys to keep working together—even after he tracks down the jerks who defected.  Your Councillors are too stuffy—and the Neverseen are backstabbers.  But the Black Swan might actually be useful."

Page 621   According to her journals, she was striving to understand how humans could commit such terrible atrocities without shattering their sanity.  She believed that if we—as a species—didn't find a way to harness that same level of ruthlessness, that it was only a matter of time before humans would take over as the dominant species on our planet.

Page 622   And I've found a number of missing persons reports long buried in our ancient archives—filed by humans living in Atlantis.  The color drained from Bronte's face.  Alden didn't look much better when he asked, Any record of how the Council responded? 

Page 622   I suspect the majority of the information exists only in Fintan's cache, Mr. Forkle told him.  But… from what I can tell, the Councillors wrote everything off as a misunderstanding.

Page 623   How many humans went missing?  Fitz asked. 

Page 623   The records I found were vague.  But it seems safe to assume there were hundreds.  Bronte swore under his breath.

Page 624   Consider what we teach about Atlantis in elvin history, Mr. Forkle told them.  How the greedy, spiteful humans planned a war against our innocent ancestors because they feared the elves' natural abilities and craved more power

Page 624   But if Vespera was capturing humans and experimenting on them—and the Council refused to investigate what was happening, Alden added, the humans would've had good reason to want to overthrow that authority.

Page 626   "If my brother had been here," Magnate Leto said, sinking onto the farthest corner of her bed, "I suspect he would've talked me out of sharing.  He was always better at knowing your limits.  But now there's only me and… I made the wrong choice."

Page 772   "All my life, some small, secret part of me has wished the divide between humans and elves could be bridged," he whispered.  "I never fought for change, because I believed the lies that had been fed to me.  But now that the deeper truths have been revealed…"

Page 778   Damel's eyebrows shot up.  "I'd heard your powers were legendary, but…" His voice trailed off as Keefe tried to cover his choked laugh with a cough.

Next, I give my thoughts about what some of this might mean.  Stop reading NOW if you have not read through at least the first 9 books.


I wonder about Amy.  Amy was born from a human who previously had carried an elf as a surrogate.  It's pointed out how Amy stares at Sophie's hand, like she knows that something else has happened.  It's also interesting how well Amy was able to fool the Neverseen by disguising her thoughts. 

Lady Gisela seems annoyed that Sophie's human parents were taken by the Neverseen.  She could be pretending, but she doesn't seem happy about what the Neverseen, as run by Fintan, is doing.

On page 189, the kids wonder about Tiergan's secrets.  I wonder, too.  What do we not know about him?

The statement about Blur's living situation is interesting.  It's a random comment that could mean something.

On page 232, Mr. Forkle admits to being a risk-taker.  I'd say so.  As I've read these books, I've been astonished at the crazy stupid things the Black Swan does.  It makes for great reading, but gosh, they recklessly engage in dangerous activities that are guaranteed to end badly.

Fans generally believe that Blur is Jensi's older brother, Fernan Babblos, who is a Phaser.  I agree.

I like how on page 606, we learn that Leto's chair is more like a throne.  Hmm...

This passage from page 186 is probably my favorite from the entire series.

For several seconds she cried alone.  Then warm, pudgy arms pulled her into a ruckleberry-scented embrace, and she clung to Mr. Forkle as her tears soaked his wrinkled tunic and he whispered the only two words that made her feel any better.  "I'm here."

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Keeper of the Lost Cities Book #5 Lodestar Kindle Notes

These are the passages that I marked in my Kindle book.  The passages were marked either because I felt they contained significant information or because I simply found them interesting or amusing.  Seeing which passages I marked are not spoilers for later books, although they could lead readers to wonder about certain things.  The final part of this post is marked with a spoiler warning so that you can stop reading if you have not yet read the later books.

Page 5   But the registry attack remained a mystery.  The Councillors kept careful records on every elf ever born, and no one would tell her if any files had been altered or stolen.

Page 34   "I've been meaning to redecorate my office since I took over as principal.  I've never been a fan of my reflection—especially in this form."

Page 36   "After all, I helped form an illegal organization.  Experimented with the genetics of an innocent child.  Secreted her away in the Forbidden Cities to be raised by humans.  Erased two of her memories without her permission—"

Page 36   "Not necessarily," Magnate Leto said.  "Questionable actions can be forgiven when they're done with good intentions.  Think of the Ancient Councillors' reasons for not warning the gnomes that the ogres possessed the plague.  With time, most have come to understand their complicated motivations."

Page 42   Magnate Leto nodded.  "I'm betting that they—like myself—assume Kenric would've known his cache is far more valuable to you if you have a way to access the information inside.  This could be their plan to force you to open it for them."

Page 42   "If it weren't that, it would be something else," Magnate Leto assured him.  "They've been after Miss Foster from the beginning.  And honestly, the more valuable they see her as, the safer she is—relatively speaking."

Page 42   Still, Magnate Leto's theory raised other questions—the kind that made her voice get thick and squeaky.  "I know you don't want to tell me who my genetic parents are—"  "Wrong," Magnate Leto interrupted.  "I can't tell you."

Page 43   "Was Kenric my father?  He was a Telepath.  And he was always so kind to me."  Her throat closed off as she remembered his bright smiles.  The red-haired Councillor had been one of Sophie's strongest supporters, right up until the day she'd lost him to Fintan's inferno of Everblaze.  Magnate Leto reached for Sophie's hand, tracing a finger across the star-shaped scar he'd accidentally given her when he healed her abilities.  "Kenric wasn't involved with Project Moonlark.  And that's all I can tell you.  Some secrets must remain hidden."

Page 57   Is that what the registry was about too? 

Page 57   No, they were super secretive about that, so I'm betting there was more to it.  It's on my list of things I'm trying to find out.

Page 60   But there he was, looking wrinkled and puffy and reeking with the dirty-feet scent of ruckleberries.  Strangely, Sophie liked him better that way.  This was the face she'd known her whole life.

Page 61   The elf who'd driven her crazy with his riddles and secrets—but who seemed to know her better than anyone.  "As I told you before," Mr. Forkle said, "it's easier for me to compartmentalize my life.  When I'm in the Lost Cities, I rely on my established identities.  But today we're going to the Stone House."

Page 61   She probably should've figured out his secret identity right then.  But Magnate Leto had given her some story about how the Black Swan had brought him along to help cover for Tiergan and Wylie's visit.  Sometimes it was better if she didn't think about how good he was at lying.

Page 77   "The Council is watching your pendant feeds very closely, and while they may not be actively working against our order, we also cannot truly count them on our side."

Page 77   Mr. Forkle shot Blur a look that seemed to say, That was top secret information! before his voice filled her head.  We've given Mr. Dizznee access to all of the eldest Mr. Vacker's registry records, hoping he'll be able to determine why the Neverseen went to such lengths to destroy the files.  Is that why they broke in to the registry?  Sophie asked.  In part.  The investigators were unable to determine if any additional files were accessed.  But all of Brant's, Fintan's, Ruy's, and Mr. Vacker's records were erased.  It's quite fortunate we'd made our own copies before the break-in.  And I'm sure you can understand why we asked Mr. Dizznee to keep this project quiet.

Page 80   Out of everyone in the room, Granite had the strongest connection to Prentice.  He'd resigned from Foxfire after Prentice's Memory break, and despised the Vacker family for years because of Alden's involvement with what had happened.  He'd also adopted Wylie and raised him as his own son.

Page 99   They didn't care about skin color or money or appearance.  But they condemned anyone without a special ability, or anyone with unusual genetics.

Page 100   "No, I think it means we shouldn't pass judgment until we see how things play out.  Actions never tell the whole story.  Good can be done for the wrong reason.  And bad can be misunderstood."

Page 107   Or maybe it was because your first instinct is to say no to everything.  You realize that ninety percent of the time, you give me a big speech on all the reasons why an idea is too dangerous, and then a few weeks later we end up doing it anyway?

Page 114   She flipped back the cover and found that Keefe had glued all the pages together, then cut out their center, creating a hollow space he'd packed with vials of elixirs.

Page 155   "Of course.  This is the only identity the Councillors are allowed to know.  And, if I'm being honest, it also makes the whole process of haggling with them much more entertaining.  Councillor Emery looks so delightfully frustrated as he tries to push past my mental blocking.  And Councillor Alina loves to pretend like she almost recognizes me.  I'm certain she'll fall out of her chair when she realizes they nearly elected me instead of her."

Page 156   "I truly had no idea.  In all my years with the order, it never crossed my mind that any of my identities might be considered for the Council.  It stirred quite the controversy among the Collective.  Personally, I didn't fret too much, since I assumed I'd never win.  But if I'd been wrong, I would've accepted the position.  The same means that allowed me to live among humans for twelve years would surely have allowed me to be both Black Swan and Councillor."

Page 158   But I was able to ask him how Fintan's mind didn't shatter after what he did to Kenric.  He told me Fintan knows how to wipe his own memories, and locks anything dark-but-crucial away in his cache before he purges it from his mind so he doesn't have to live with it.

Page 175   "Some of them, yes.  Now please act normal—we do not need to create a spectacle."

Page 190   "As do I.  But I wish for many things. . . ."  He stared into the distance, tempting her to violate the rules of telepathy and see what he was thinking.

Page 203   "He told me that after years and years of training, he reached a point where the slightest aggravation or annoyance would flare his temper, and he'd unleash his rage.  His low point was when he lashed out at his mother."

Page 204   "Bronte said he built up so much anger and frustration that he has to keep it all tangled up in a knot deep inside of him—a constant pressure he fights every day to keep from unraveling.  And he told me he's had to teach you the same technique because of all the emotions you're battling."

Page 230   "That's when she told me about the Black Swan and asked me to join.  I swore fealty a few weeks later and started out as a simple information channel.  But over time, they trusted me more. Eventually, when Physic stepped down from the Collective, she suggested me as her replacement—and I accepted the position."

Page 232   "And Forkle went to save you because his mental blocking is stronger than mine, and we weren't sure if he'd have to confront your kidnappers.  But if I'd known he was going to leave you both alone in Paris, I never would've let him go without me.  When he came back empty-handed, I slapped him so hard he had my handprint on his cheek for three days."

Page 301   "I went to that stall," Biana said.  "My dad took me when I was little—I still have the combs he bought.  And I remember being surprised we went to Mysterium instead of Atlantis."

Page 304   "Marella's mom is on it."  He pointed to the name Caprise Redek, glowing among a dozen other names.

Page 306   "Gethen is not the grand solution you believe him to be!" Mr. Forkle snapped.  He turned away, tearing his hands through his grayed hair.  "I know you want to believe—"

Page 319   "Because... you're a Councillor.  I didn't think you guys were open for visitors."  "I've gotten many lectures about my lack of constant security, and how I leave myself too vulnerable.  But I think it's important that we make ourselves available to our people.  After all, we never know what we're going to learn."

Page 320   "I'm sure some of my fellow Councillors would call for my circlet for saying so, but fear has inspired some of our worst decisions.  And there are some who feel drastic measures are the only solution."

Page 321   "People asking hard questions and taking risks and never letting anything stop them—not because they want power or glory.  Because they know it's the right thing to do."

Page 322   "The Imparter you gave me before we fled to the Black Swan was conveniently missing from my bag when they sent home my things."  "That sounds like them," Oralie said, half a smile curving her lips.

Page 323   "But either way, don't let him make Kenric's mistake."  "What mistake was that?" Sophie managed to whisper.  Oralie let her go and turned away.  "He underestimated Fintan."

Page 331   What was she supposed to say?  Found a leaping crystal from the Neverseen and decided to use it—don't know where I’m going or when I'll be back!  That should go over really well.

Page 339   "I'm always serious, Foster.  Especially when you think I'm teasing."  He cleared his throat, not quite holding her stare.

Page 343   "Plus, humans fascinate Fintan.  He hates them, but he's also obsessed with knowing everything about them."

Page 356   "It doesn't matter yet," Lady Gisela told him.  "Someday this place will be the solution our world needs.  But for the moment, we're just here for security."

Page 421   "though I'd kinda been rooting for Phaser—like my brother—"

Page 430   "You . . . have a very weird life," Maruca told Sophie as she stared at the cloud of gravelly dust he'd left in his wake.

Page 435   "And Forkle's really okay with all of this?" Grady asked.  "I'm sure he will be once I inform him," Oralie said.  "I have a meeting with him later this afternoon."

Page 436   "Well," Oralie said, standing and removing a pink-wanded pathfinder from her cape.  "Family debates aren't really my area of expertise."

Page 437   "You're finally stepping into the role we imagined for you.  Now let's see what you can do."

Page 470   "So you say.  But wouldn't it be ironic if someday I used that blade to chop off your pretty head?"

Page 474   "Yes you have," Mr. Forkle said.  "I can see the twitch in your eye.  I bet you have no idea how long you've been in here.  Maybe you should've thought to count the seconds."

Page 482   "Am I to infer that you have a theory as to my identity?" Mr. Forkle asked.  "I've had many theories," Oralie said as they reached the top of the stairs.  "But this one feels right."

Page 578   Mr. Forkle's eyes flicked to Granite, and Granite scrambled for his pathfinder.  "Excuse me," he told the Councillors.  "I must check on my son."  "Your son?" Councillor Terik asked, catching Granite's slip.

Page 584   "Blur has offered to serve as their guardian, and the Council will be assigning them goblin bodyguards."

Page 608   "Thank you," she whispered.  "For what?"  "For giving me this life—crazy and confusing as it always is."  It was Mr. Forkle's turn to look away, swiping at his eyes.

Page 623   "Simply put: We're better, on every level.  Smarter.  More powerful.  With talents and skills none of you can even comprehend."

Page 627   Fintan's eyes focused on Sophie, his lips curling into a smile that gave her prickles.  "The problem is humans."

Page 630   "I don't fear the Council—I fear what they'll let you grow to become.  And more than that, I fear what lengths he'll go to"—he pointed to Fintan—"in order to stop you.  And I want no part of it."

Page 632   "Did either of you notice how many of the leaders nodded along when Fintan went into his tangent about humans?"  Edaline asked quietly.

Page 632   "But what's the solution to that?" Sophie asked.  "Ours is a work in progress," Mr. Forkle admitted.  "And Sophie plays a part in it?" Edaline pressed.  "That will be up to her."

Page 640   A faint tremor shook the floor, and Sophie tried to tell herself her mind was playing tricks on her.  But then she realized the crystals on the chandeliers were swaying.

Page 658   "It won't be as bad as you think."  His voice had a horrible gurgle to it, but Sophie ordered herself not to think about it.

Page 659   Oralie nodded.  "His skull was crushed completely.  Gray matter everywhere."  Something felt wrong with this new information—but Sophie couldn't piece it together.

Page 660   "I've lived five lives."

Page 661   Mr. Forkle nodded, closing his eyes as he reached for Oralie.  "Take care of my moonlark."

Page 661   "You'll do great things with it, Sophie.  Wonderful, incredible things."

Page 661   "You've already done it," he said.  "Thank you for being brave enough to find me this one last time.  You gave me the gift of goodbye."

Next, I give my thoughts about what some of this might mean.  Stop reading NOW if you have not read through at least the first 9 books.


On page 34, Leto confesses that he doesn't like his reflection, especially in his Leto identity.  I feel that this indicates that Leto is not his true identity.  I also wonder if maybe he prefers his hair to be loose and not glued to his head with gel.

On page 36, Leto says, "Questionable actions can be forgiven when they're done with good intentions."  If Forkle/Leto is Kenric, then this is how he justifies hurting Oralie by faking his own death.

On page 43, Sophie asks Leto if Kenric was her father.  Leto replies, "Kenric wasn't involved with Project Moonlark.  And that's all I can tell you."  This isn't an answer, and he doesn't directly deny it.  Even if he had, we know that Forkle/Leto has lied to Sophie.  On page 61, Sophie reflects,  "Sometimes it was better if she didn't think about how good he was at lying."  Forkle/Leto's denial means very little since he lies.

On page 77, we learn that the Neverseen erased all of Brant's, Fintan's, Ruy's, and the eldest Mr. Vacker's registry records.  I assume that the "eldest Mr. Vacker" means Fallon Vacker.  I find it curious that the Neverseen erased his records.  The other three erased records are from known Neverseen members.  Could Fallon Vacker be associated with the Neverseen?  Or is something else going on?  

On page 158, we learn that Fintan knows how to wipe his own memories.  I suspect that Kenric knows how to wipe his own memories as well.

On page 474, Mr. Forkle says, "I bet you have no idea how long you've been in here.  Maybe you should've thought to count the seconds."  Sophie likes to count the seconds.  In a later book, a memory from Kendric's cache shows him counting the seconds.  So, Sophie and Kenric like to count seconds while Forkle suggests counting the seconds.  Nobody else mentions seconds.  Hmm...

Friday, June 2, 2023

Keeper of the Lost Cities Book #4 Neverseen Kindle Notes

These are the passages that I marked in my Kindle book.  The passages were marked either because I felt they contained significant information or because I simply found them interesting or amusing.  Seeing which passages I marked are not spoilers for later books, although they could lead readers to wonder about certain things.  The final part of this post is marked with a spoiler warning so that you can stop reading if you have not yet read the later books.

Page 4   The Council had vowed to punish anyone associated with the Black Swan—the mysterious organization responsible for Sophie's existence.  But Sophie and her friends knew the real villains were a group called the Neverseen.

Page 4   The Black Swan had tweaked her genes to enhance her abilities as part of their Project Moonlark—but they'd never given her any clue as to why.  They'd also never told her who her genetic parents were, and Sophie had no idea if she'd finally have to meet them.

Page 16   "Do you think the Council will order memory breaks?" Sophie whispered.  "No, the Council will not sink to that level.  Plus, they know we are too prominent and powerful."

Page 19  "It's okay," a fragile voice promised as the figure threw back her shimmering hood.  Blond ringlets cascaded around the beautiful, familiar face of a weary-looking Councillor Oralie.

Page 19   “Not long.  Bronte and Terik are still arguing, but they will gain nothing.  There is too much fear and fury clouding the others' reason."  Oralie trailed her graceful fingers across her arms, shivering in the moonlight.

Page 21   Sophie hadn't realized Oralie was a Conjurer.

Page 22   "Kenric made me promise to give this to you if anything happened to him," she whispered, "to make sure you'd be protected."

Page 23   "He believed in you," Oralie said, tracing a soft finger down Sophie's cheek.  "He told me you were the spark of change our world needed."

Page 23   "Sometimes rebellion is the only course of wisdom.  As all of you well know."

Page 49   "But you lived with humans for twelve years," Sophie reminded him.  "Yes, and someday I'll tell you how I managed to escape anyone's notice."

Page 49   "A clever Technopath rigged this to communicate where I want the Council to think I am.  But it only covers blocks of time."

Page 51   Sophie sighed.  "Exactly how many weird memories have you given me?"  "As many as you'll need."

Page 51   "She deserves many things," Mr. Forkle said.  "But most important, she deserves a choice.  And in order to give her that choice, she must discover her purpose on her own."

Page 57   He tapped his right temple, and Della's arm dropped to her side.  "Are you a Mesmer?" Sophie asked, remembering Grady's similar feats.  "My tricks are more limited," Mr. Forkle admitted.  "But the mind is more powerful than the body—never forget that."

Page 58   "Collective?" Sophie asked.  "Our ruling order," Mr. Forkle clarified.  "Five overseers, each with equally weighted votes."

Page 73   Mr. Forkle ignored him, holding up a black crystal with a purple gleam.

Page 74   "This crystal leads to my safe house, where I go to change identities.  Anyone who does not know the secret for leaving is instantly trapped."

Page 78   "How do you know so much about humans?" Sophie asked.  "That is a story for another time.  But I've walked among them, and the reception I received was less than friendly."

Page 78   "In the meantime, please try to remember that there's a difference between hiding by choice and hiding from fear."

Page 88   "I made your Telepathy unstoppable," Mr. Forkle said, "but that doesn't mean it can't be deceived.  Once you figure out what that means, you'll earn the right to hear what I'm thinking."

Page 89   "The footprints Oralie mentioned—and by the way, you should use that Imparter she gave you very sparingly—belonged to two teenagers living nearby."

Page 99   That's me, she realized as the scene slowed to a normal pace and she watched her five-year-old self reading on the steps in front of her small square house.

Page 102   "I called 9-1-1 and triggered your telepathy, knowing the head injury would be an excuse to help your mind accept the new ability.  I also altered your memory to be sure you'd forget the boy.  And then I never let you out of my sight again."

Page 102   "That night I washed the moment completely and tore the page out of her journal."

Page 103   "So every night I searched your memories and helped your mind set aside anything too upsetting.  I also tried to help with your headaches—don't you remember how I was always asking about them?"

Page 107   "We've also long suspected that Prentice's mind is hiding something crucial.  It would explain why he called 'swan song' before he was captured."

Page 107   "Prentice used the code the day before his capture," Mr. Forkle said.  "I've always wondered how he knew they were coming for him."  "As have I," Granite agreed.  "I'd been monitoring Alden's investigations most carefully, and he'd had no suspicion toward Prentice whatsoever.  Then Prentice called swan song and suddenly he was arrested."  Della looked away, twisting and retwisting her graceful fingers.

Page 119   "That's one of the Black Swan's mysteries.  But you are their heir.  Your spot is reserved.  All you have to do is accept it."

Page 146   Until they did the memory break on Prentice.  Quinlin told my dad afterward that he hadn't wanted to do it, and it turned into this big fight.

Page 201   "Well," Mr. Forkle said, shattering the silence that followed.  "These are all certainly things we must investigate.  But first, we have bigger issues."  He rose from his beanbag—which required quite a lot of thrashing and flailing—and moved to stand over Calla.  "You acted without orders."

Page 216   "Of course not!" Mr. Forkle turned to Sophie.  "Any tweaks I made to your DNA were done before your inception.  I implanted your embryo immediately."  "Okay," Sophie said, not sure why he seemed so upset by the idea.  Humans froze embryos all the time.  And either way, she was still an experiment.

Page 221   "I can divide my consciousness," Mr. Forkle said with a smile.  "One part of my mind was being rather obvious while the other slipped past and dug out what I needed."

Page 221   "Because I can't imagine any of the perfect Vackers being longtime traitors."

Page 227   "So… you're saying the ogres have a way to control the Councillors?" Sophie asked.

Page 235   Dad's missing blue pathfinder——was it her?  Where did she go?

Page 240   "It seems likely.  No one keeps up a pretense perfectly.  In fact, I've made several slips I'm stunned you didn't catch."

Page 241   "Our fatal flaw is guilt."

Page 258   "And make the Council's mistake?" Mr. Forkle asked.  "No, I think not.  The centuries they've spent delegating responsibilities to their Emissaries have made them lose touch with the realities of our world."

Page 272   "I feel you trying to invade my mind, Emery," Mr. Forkle said.  "Having any luck?"

Page 290   The sound of Fitz's violent vomiting felt oddly appropriate as Sophie and Mr. Forkle paced in front of the common room campfire.  "You've been lying to me," he said.  "You should've told me about Kenric's cache.  And you definitely should've consulted with me before you volunteered for Exillium."

Page 291   "Have you considered that it's easier for her because she's just met you?" Mr. Forkle asked.  "She's never had to lie straight to your face."

Page 291   "You also know me as Sir Astin."

Page 292   "How else do you think you got assigned the list of stars to find Elementine?" he asked.  The room tilted sideways—or maybe that was Sophie.

Page 292   "Wait—Sir Astin testified at the Tribunal that the lists for that assignment were given at random," she argued.  "Of course I did!  I couldn't exactly say, 'I'm with the Black Swan and this was part of our plan!' "

Page 293   "But... Sir Astin was surprised when I showed him the bottle of Quintessence."  "Well, yes, because I never thought you'd bring it to Foxfire!  Or carry it around in your satchel, letting it get shaken and jostled all day!  It's amazing you didn't blow the school to pieces.  That was when I learned to never make assumptions about what you'll do.  I'd foolishly figured you'd run straight to Alden."

Page 295   "Is that your only identity?" she asked.  "Or are there others?"  "Sir Astin is the only one I'm willing to share."  "How many are there?"  He sighed.  "One for my actual life.  Another for a role I've taken on.  Another for the fertility doctor I played to your human parents.  I couldn't be their doctor and their next-door neighbor, after all—but I'm assuming you already guessed that."

Page 295   "You can stop guessing.  Even if you get it right, I'm not going to tell you."

Page 296   "No, you have to at least tell me if I've met the other yous."  "I most certainly do not.  We've talked enough about me.  It's time for you to share.  Can I see Kenric's cache?"

Page 296   "Oralie is far cleverer than you know.  It's easy to underestimate the quiet beauties."

Page 298   He stared longingly at the cache.  "Never let me have this.  The temptation is too great."

Page 300   "He knows the Collective never rejects his ideas.  Why else do you think we have these stupid code names?"

Page 303   They were surprised, of course.  But crazy as the revelation was, it still felt like Mr. Forkle's other identities had to be an even bigger mind blow.

Page 325   Why would Dame Alina risk harming her own sanity by hurting Prentice?

Page 353   "It's weird," Biana admitted.  "Are you part of the Black Swan?"  "That would be rather impossible."  Magnate Leto smoothed his black hair, even though it was coated with so much gel it couldn't possibly move.

Page 368   "Because I am family.  My name is the one on her Inception Certificate.  Someone had to vouch for her existence.  And since her genetic parents couldn't reveal themselves, I took the responsibility.  Though of course I had to use an assumed identity.  But Mr. Forkle is still me."

Page 368   "Someday you may understand," Mr. Forkle told Sophie.  "But for now I can at least assure you—as I did with your concerns about Jolie—that I am not your genetic father."

Page 368   I'm aware of the offenses you hold against me, he transmitted.  And I won't claim I don't deserve them.  But I need you to know that I do care about you, Sophie—as much as I can allow myself to.  And you may not want to believe this, but your genetic parents care too.  They have incredibly important reasons for remaining anonymous—but that does not mean they don't wish they could be a part of your life. 

Page 369   Have I ever met them?  Sophie transmitted back.  I can't tell you that—and I'm begging you to stop guessing.  Should you finally settle on the correct answer, you will trigger a chain reaction that could topple our world. 

Page 369   How would me knowing who they are "topple" anything? Unless…

Page 369   Mr. Forkle sighed.  I can tell you're still pondering possibilities.  So I will add that your genetic parents had no connection to each other.  There was no unrequited love.  They weren't even friends.  I did that purposely, because I couldn't allow them to know who each other were.

Page 369   Her father still could be...  She couldn't bear to think the name.  But he was a Telepath.  And he'd always been incredibly kind to her.  And it would explain why he'd given her his cache…

Page 370   "What does the L stand for?" Dex asked.  Mr. Forkle looked slightly flushed as he mumbled, "Loki."

Page 372   Her belly button even turned pink and popped out like it would've if she were an elf—I still can't understand why it did."

Page 375   "But they took the gifts we gave them and twisted them into weapons, or bargaining chips for their political agendas, or soggy, chemical-filled Twinkies."

Page 428   "You kids should head back," Magnate Leto said.  "Assuming Elwin's given the all clear, of course."

Page 434   "Then make them care.  That's one of your greatest gifts, Miss Foster—one we had nothing to do with.  You're a natural force for change."

Page 434   "As you know, Councillor Oralie has been working with Lord Cassius, searching for clues to his wife's Neverseen activities.  And word has reached me that a few days ago they discovered a trunk hidden in Candleshade."

Page 453   "I couldn't tell which Councillors it was—only that it was a male and a female.  And the female Councillor said, 'We should've warned them this could happen.'  Then the guy said, 'No one can know.' "

Page 464   "The Council is getting better at protecting their information," Mr. Forkle said.  "I only learned of it yesterday—"

Page 467   "Couldn't we just hail Alden later and ask him who visited him?" Sophie asked.  "Do you think I'm brand new at having an alternate identity?"  Granite leaped away before Sophie could answer.

Page 471   "I've also met your father several times.  Can't say I was impressed."  Tam's jaw fell and he lowered his arms, all trace of his shadows vanishing.  "I've never heard anyone speak ill of my father."  "Then you haven't been talking to the right people," Mr. Forkle said.

Page 474   "But I don't remember seeing you," Tam said.  "That's because I didn't want to be seen.  One cannot live the lives I lead without mastering the art of hiding."  Tam glanced at Sophie.  "You're right.  This guy's going to take some getting used to."

Page 476   "Is Mr. Tam acceptable?" Mr. Forkle asked.  "I prefer to keep things formal."

Page 481   "I'm just worried about the gnomes," she said.  "I don't understand how this happened." "Neither do we," Terik murmured—and there.  Right there.  Sophie saw the fear, mixed with a tiny bit of shame.  It only lasted a fraction of a second.  But it had definitely been there.

Page 482   Oralie nodded.  "Thank you for opening my eyes.  Kenric would be so proud of you."  The name felt warm, and it relaxed Sophie's nerves, untangling some of her knots.

Page 483   Kenric would've known about the plague, too.  But he'd also been a good person—she was absolutely certain of that.  So maybe finding the truth would show her how he was able to be both.

Page 506   "It's not about who we want to work with," Mr. Forkle told them.  "It's about putting aside differences for the greater good."

Page 506   "That includes relying on those we do not like, if they can help with something we need."

Page 512   "Perhaps they didn't want the gnomes to live their lives under constant fear," Mr. Forkle suggested.  "Or perhaps they worried what would happen if other species discovered the ogres held this powerful weapon?"

Page 527   "We kept the secret because your ancient leaders begged us not to tell you.  In fact, it was their dying wish."  He paused to let the news rustle through the crowd.  Even Sir Astin seemed surprised to hear it, and no one seemed to know how to react.

Page 539   "No."  He cut her off before she could fully form the question.  "Kenric is gone."  "So was Fintan!"  "Yes.  But do you think Kenric would let us mourn his loss?"

Page 540   But Sir Astin was right.  Kenric would never let Oralie suffer.  Just watching her thrash and flail and sob broke Sophie's heart.

Page 550   "And while I don't agree with all of the Black Swan's politics, I can agree that they're the best chance we have of surviving.  So if that means spending my days pandering to a group of children who will surely never live up to the Black Swan's foolish expectations… so be it."

Page 566   "You're not going to try to stop us?"  Fitz asked.  "I doubt I could even if I tried.  Plus, I learned from the mistakes in Exile"—his eyes strayed to Fitz—"that it's far better if we coordinate our efforts."

Page 631   "We've seen the damage," Councillor Emery agreed.  He didn't sound furious.  He sounded impressed

Page 670   "You?" she whispered, not sure which of them stunned her more.  Mr. Forkle had turned into the tall, black-haired Magnate Leto, her Principal at Foxfire.  And Granite's rocky features had dissolved into the olive-toned complexion and blond hair of Sir Tiergan, her telepathy Mentor.  "Yes," they said, looking both proud and shy.  "The surest way to protect you was to be in your life," Tiergan told her, "even if it meant resorting to deception."  "So that means..."  She couldn't finish the sentence, her mind splitting in too many different directions.  All the times Tiergan had helped her or guided her, all of Magnate Leto's strange looks and probing questions.  It seemed so obvious now—but also so impossible to wrap her head around.

Next, I give my thoughts about what some of this might mean.  Stop reading NOW if you have not read through all of the books.


On page 19, Oralie speaks with a "fragile voice."  Her voice is usually described as "fragile," and I suspect her speaking manner is an act.  I don't think Oralie is fragile at all.

On page 23, Oralie says that Kenric told her that Sophie was "the spark of change our world needed."  On page 454, Forkle tells Sophie, "You're a natural force for change."  It's interesting that both Kenric and Forkle make similar statements.  Also, in book 1 both Kenric and Astin use the word "natural" to describe Sophie.  Now, Forkle has used the same word.

On page 102, Mr. Forkle tells Sophie that he washed her memory.  Kenric was also a Washer, which is revealed in a later book.

On page 353, "Magnate Leto smoothed his black hair, even though it was coated with so much gel it couldn't possibly move."  This is the second time it's been mentioned that Leto checks on his hair.  He seems worried about it for some reason...

On page 107, Della seems nervous as Tiergen and Mr. Forkle wonder why Prentice called swan song.  Perhaps Della has a guilty conscience.

These two quotes show that we cannot believe everything that Forkle says is true.

Page 291   "Have you considered that it's easier for her because she's just met you?" Mr. Forkle asked.  "She's never had to lie straight to your face."

Page 295   "You can stop guessing.  Even if you get it right, I'm not going to tell you."

On page 292, Forkle admits that he as Sir Astin gave Sophie the list of unmapped stars.  The location of the unmapped stars is only known by the Council.  Forkle must be someone who was a Councillor, such as Kenric.

On page 369, Sophie still thinks that Kenric is her father.  I think she's right, even though Forkle continues to mislead her.

On page 539, Astin insists that Kenric is dead because he wouldn't let Oralie suffer.  This fooled me the first time I read the book, but I've now seen too many other clues.  The problem is that Forkle is hardcore Black Swan/Project Moonlark without a care as to how his actions impact others.  I believe he would hurt Oralie in order to keep his secret, and of course he's going to tell Sophie that Kenric wouldn't hurt Oralie by faking his death.  Oh, he definitely would hurt Oralie if it meant protecting the Black Swan's interests.  

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Keeper of the Lost Cities Book #3 Everblaze Kindle Notes

These are the passages that I marked in my Kindle book.  The passages were marked either because I felt they contained significant information or because I simply found them interesting or amusing.  Seeing which passages I marked are not spoilers for later books, although they could lead readers to wonder about certain things.  The final part of this post is marked with a spoiler warning so that you can stop reading if you have not yet read the later books. 

Page 19   Or, she was until Keefe showed her the message.  Wait for instructions and stick to the plan.

Page 27   "But if you must know, I have noticed that my blue pathfinder is missing."  "And what?  You think I took it?"  "Who else?"

Page 29   His hand barely touched her, but she still gasped and clutched her shoulder.  "I'm fine," she promised, glancing at Sophie.

Page 33   Dex's parents were known for playing by their own rules and not following social conventions.

Page 51   "What happened three days ago?" Sophie asked when Keefe turned slightly pale.  "That's when my dad had the effluxers installed."

Page 57   "You two certainly know how to give someone a heart attack," Kenric said, laughing as he nudged Alden.  "And I'm pretty sure you made this guy squeal."

Page 58   Sophie glanced at Keefe, trying to figure out how much to say.  She hadn't planned on having to tell the Council herself.  "I think I'll let you guys talk privately," Kenric jumped in, almost like he knew what she was thinking.

Page 67   "In fact, I made the same point to Kenric while he was here.  But he explained to me that that's the problem.  Fintan's easy.  With or without his mind healed, he's guilty, and had he given us the information we needed in the first place, we still would've exiled him for his crimes."

Page 68   "They've accepted that now is a time for change.  But they want to make sure it's the right change, and they need more information before they move forward—information that Fintan hopefully has."

Page 75   Things are happening, and I need your help. When and where can we meet?

Page 96   "There's something off about this place," Sandor said, pulling Sophie closer to his side.

Page 112   Your request is denied, for your own protection.

Page 118   "My brother said it hurt—he said he felt kind of achy all day before he manifested—and then his foot sank into the floor and he realized he was a Phaser and was like, 'oh, that's why!' "

Page 128   "You kids always need me right when I'm sitting down to lunch," he complained as he stepped aside to let Sophie pass.

Page 129   "I heard you had some excitement today," Master Leto said, checking his overly gelled hair before pressing his palm against the wall and opening the hidden doorway to the main tower.

Page 132   "That's enough, Mr. Endal!" Master Leto snapped, straightening up to his full height.  He actually made a pretty imposing figure, especially when he told Wylie, "I would not recommend trying my patience any further."

Page 133   "I don't have a wife."  His voice had turned thick, his face twisted with emotion—though Sophie doubted even an Empath could translate it.  "I'm sorry," she said quietly.  "It's not… And I still… Not that it matters…"  She wasn't sure if he was talking to her anymore.  His gaze had turned distant, like he'd fallen deep into a memory.  And as she studied his face, she realized Master Leto was much older than he looked.  His ears weren't pointed, but he had ancient eyes.

Page 133   "You'd better go," he reminded her.  He didn't follow her as she headed up the twisting staircase.  And when she glanced down a few floors later he was still standing there, staring into space, looking even more confused than she felt.

Page 136   "That's what I miss.  Knowing that the work I was doing could ensure the lasting peace between our people, as opposed to wasting hours teaching skills to a little girl who's already too smart for her own good."

Page 140   "Because they never asked.  And most of the reports I sent the Council seemed to vanish into some sort of void, never to be mentioned again.  I sent them all kinds of information about what I discovered of the true nature of ogre technology."

Page 155   "Well, you don't fascinate me as much as she does," Councillor Terik admitted, pointing to Sophie.  "Hers was the only reading I couldn't translate.  Everything I felt was too… divided."

Page 163   "It was probably the most talked about thing at the party—even more than how many times Councillor Kenric asked Councillor Oralie to dance."  Sophie smiled, imagining Kenric following Oralie around like a lost puppy.  She'd long suspected he had a crush on the blond-ringletted Councillor.

Page 173   "They told Dame Alina that with Lady Iskra's guidance, I'll invent things that will change our world!"

Page 210  "Here," Master Leto said, taking her hand and cleaning the blood off her finger with a silky handkerchief.  She waited for him to let go, but he leaned closer, squinting at Dex's ring before tracing his finger over her star-shaped scar.  "Looks like you've had an interesting few weeks."

Page 212   "My place," Kenric corrected, "is to ensure Sophie's safety—since you have proven that you will not always act with her best interests at heart."

Page 215   "I believe the first step is to identify the emotion you want to unleash," Kenric offered quietly.  "At least, that's what I remember studying."

Page 216   "Oh please, it's only been a few seconds," Kenric told him.  "You're doing great, Sophie."

Page 218   "Stay calm," Kenric told her, taking Sophie's hands and waiting for her to look at him.  "Whatever's happening, you have the power within you to fix it."  "How can you be so sure?"  "Because I've seen the wonders you work, Sophie.  You just have to believe."

Page 218   Sophie hoped he was right, taking three deep breaths before she shoved her consciousness into Bronte's mind.  His memories felt like sludge.

Page 221   "Besides, it wasn’t the anger that took him down.  That was actually how I got him out of it.  Which seems weird, doesn't it?  I mean, he was basically allergic to happiness."  "Um, you have met Bronte, right?"  "I know.  But I've been in some messed-up minds, and I've never felt anything like that sludgy darkness I felt today."

Page 221   Especially when she factored in the way Bronte's mind had blocked her from his memories.  Almost like he had something to hide…

Page 222   But what Sophie wanted to know was, How did everyone know so many classified things?  The information had to be leaking from someone in the Nobility—and a lot of the things people had heard about were things only the Councillors would know….

Page 224   He was right.  Bronte was far too grumpy and suspicious not to catch on.  But he was also hiding something—she could feel it.  There had to be a way to figure out what it was.

Page 231   Master Leto bowed.  "Hello, Miss Foster.  I would say this is a surprise, but from what I hear, you stop by quite often.  In fact, we were just talking about you."

Page 233   Master Leto laughed.  "And here I thought you were the girl with all the impossibly strong powers.  Did you or did you not transmit to someone more than half a world away—and with your mind drugged, no less?"

Page 234   "Yeah.  I can't teleport through anything solid."  "Fascinating," he mumbled, mostly to himself.

Page 234   "And I promise you, Sophie, the only barrier stopping you from reaching your alicorn friend is the imaginary wall you put there yourself."

Page 234   He smiled and tapped the side of his head. "I know rather more about the mind than you might expect."

Page 249   "Because it was only a theory. You'd told me this Mr. Forkle—whoever he is—can slip past your mental blocking."

Page 250   "But subconsciously, I suspect your minds share a mutual trust based on years of close training.  Don't you believe that it was Mr. Forkle who planted the Black Swan's secrets carefully within your memories?"

Page 280   "Councillor Kenric's a Telepath?"  "Did I never mention?" Kenric asked with a grin.  "That's why I was part of your original committee of three.  They wanted an Empath to get a reading on who you were as a person, a Telepath to judge your capabilities, and Councillor Grumpypants because, well, he insisted."

Page 319   Alden pulled her close, his body shaking harder than hers as he told her, "I'm afraid he is.  Kenric charged Fintan when the room started raining Everblaze.  He managed to shove you, Fitz, and Oralie away, but then Fintan's body exploded with flames.  There was nothing we could do.  I—"

Page 326   "In fact… I think that's why you're here—why you grew up where you did.  So you could see our world through different eyes.  Help us find our way."


Page 343   "And I'm guessing there's no chance this could all be a mistake again?"  Fitz shook his head, twisting the piece of bark in his hands until it crumbled.  "My dad saw it happen."

Page 377   "You can implant something without the person ever really looking at it."  "Okay…," Sophie said slowly, her brain struggling to keep up.  "So is implanting bad?"  "Of course not.  It's just a super-hard skill only a few people can really pull off."

Page 390   "But he thinks I might be able to restrict someone's ability instead."

Page 397   Careful plans have now been changed;  So a meeting must be arranged.  In three days time, when the evening star ascends;  Find us where the lost have no end.

Page 399   The days ahead will be dark and dour.  You must not fear yourself or your power.

Page 400   "I don't either," Sophie admitted.  "I mean, why reach out to us now, after all these weeks of silence?"

Page 432   Master Leto was still the favorite—though an ancient elf Sophie had never heard of was a close second.

Page 436   "A chance to prove the superiority of the Elvin Way.  And I am honored to help us rise to the occasion."

Page 436   "As you know, Councillor Alina's appointment has opened up the position of Foxfire's principal."

Page 438   We meet tomorrow at sunset.  Outside my old home.  You bring the answers.  We'll rearrange the gnomes.

Page 441   Okay.

Page 447   "Because"—Mr. Forkle tapped the nose of one of the gnomes and the air shimmered around them—"I just put an impenetrable energy field around us."

Page 447   "They were many things, depending on what I needed.  Twelve years was a very long time to be separated from my world, and these ridiculous statues were all I had to remind me why I was here."

Page 447   "You are my greatest achievement, Sophie."  There was a softness to the words.  A warmth.  But the words were still wrong.  "That's all I am to you—an achievement?"  "What more would you like?"

Page 448   "Simple deduction.  You really think we would set fires in the shape of our sign, just to catch Alden's attention?"  "I guess not," she mumbled.

Page 448   "Somehow the Neverseen knew you were here.  They just didn't know precisely where.  So they lit the fires to flush you out, taunting us with our own symbol—and framing us in the process.  That's when I sent the newspaper article to Alden—the one that led him to you so he could take you away."

Page 452   But the Sencen family crest fit perfectly.  Hadn't his dad only given it to him recently?  And now that she thought about it… hadn't he given it to him after he found out Keefe was working on something with her?

Page 453   "Because their leader is a Pyrokinetic.  He left his burns on Sophie's wrists—burns that took me nearly an hour to treat."

Page 453   "I've never seen anything so vile," Mr. Forkle said, his voice suddenly thick.

Page 455   "Could you betray your own father?"  "I've done far worse," Mr. Forkle whispered.

Page 458   "Prentice called his the day before he was captured," he added quietly.  "I still haven't figured out how he knew it was coming."

Page 458   "Wait!" Sophie called as he pulled out a noticeably blue pathfinder.

Page 479   His orange robes were a vivid flame among the muted silver of the Council, and when the floor beneath him lifted to create a pedestal, he looked like a torch—a torch that suddenly had an unearthly green glow as the lights dimmed in the auditorium.

Page 479   "Do you swear to put the safety and success of your prodigies above all else—even your own life?"

Page 487   "How did you...?" Sophie started to ask, but her voice trailed off when she remembered the registry pendant clamped around her neck.  "Yes, Miss Foster,"  Councillor Emery said as she reached for her necklace.

Page 490   The rest of the Council nodded in agreement, except Terik and Oralie, and—quite surprisingly—Bronte.

Page 490   "The Council has already considered all other possibilities," Councillor Emery interrupted, emphasizing the word "Council" to make it clear that Magnate Leto was not a part of it.

Page 494   "Or, if I may," Magnate Leto jumped in, "I might not be a Councillor, but I am a Telepath, and one of my strengths is knowing if someone has invaded my mind.  If Sophie is able to get in, I'll be able to tell."

Page 496   If you can hear me, Sophie, do not let them know.

Page 500   And the last thing she saw as she stepped into the light was Magnate Leto, giving her a quick wink.

Page 503   "The Black Swan made me to do something—I don't know what, but it doesn't matter now because I'll never be able to do it and the whole thing is a waste."

Page 509   "Dude—even my dad thought it was messed up,"  Keefe jumped in.  "If that doesn't say something…"

Page 525   "Ah, I was under the impression that nothing was impossible."

Page 526   " 'It takes a special person to see darkness inside of someone and not condemn them.' "

Page 526   Now Bronte was one of the only Councillors still on her side—even if she did still think he was hiding something.

Page 526   "No, there was one other part.  He said, 'Inflicting comes from the heart, not the head.' "

Page 527   "That's not what I've seen.  I have it on good authority that nothing can stop you from being who we need you to be."

Page 530   The message made it clear that some sort of information exchange had been occurring between the ogres and a small band of elves.

Page 533   "I still had to read between the rhyming lines, but it sounds like they want everyone to meet at Kenric's Wanderling at sunrise."

Page 551   "She's such a smart little weapon."  "I'm not a weapon!" Sophie snapped.

Page 569   "Green?" Mr. Forkle sighed when Sophie nodded.  "Green crystals go to the ogre cities."

Page 573   She'd never expected to have an audience while the elf who created her taught someone how to slip past her mental defenses.

Page 589   "Three!" Mr. Forkle shouted, belly flopping onto four of the dwarves closest to Fitz and Sophie, crushing them with his massive girth.

Page 594   Mr. Forkle said, limping toward them from a snowdrift Sophie was sure had been empty a second earlier.  "How did you...?" she started to ask, but Mr. Forkle waved the question away.

Page 596   "Yes, I remember," Mr. Forkle murmured.  "It took all of my mental energy to hold him back from snatching you off the street that day."

Next, I give my thoughts about what some of this might mean.  Stop reading NOW if you have not read through all of the books.  My comments include significant spoilers from later books.


The blue pathfinder is mentioned on pages 27 and 458.  Lord Cassius thinks that Keefe stole his blue pathfinder, which allows a leap to the Forbidden Cities.  Later, Mr. Forkle is in the Forbidden Cities with a blue pathfinder.

Only certain elite nobility such as the Councillors and emissaries have blue pathfinders.  The stolen pathfinder might be tied to Kenric having just died.  If Kenric is Forkle, then having faked his death might mean that he couldn't use his own pathfinder.  He might have had to steal one to that he could meet with Sophie.  It's also important to note that Sophie and Keefe called the meeting, not Forkle.  For whatever reason, Forkle had to scramble to get a blue pathfinder.

The first time I read this book, I caught onto how strange it is on page 58 that Kenric acts like he knows what Sophie is thinking.  He immediately makes an excuse and leaves when Sophie worries about having to tell what happened to a Councillor.  Kenric admits to being a Telepath on page 280.

The decision to heal Fintan instead of Prentice has never made sense to me.  I continue to wonder if someone on the Council is with the Neverseen and wanted Fintan healed.  The top suspect would be Kenric, which was one of my theories.  I still think Kenric is Forkle, which would eliminate him as the secret evil Councillor. 

The mention of Jensi's brother manifesting as a Phaser on page 118 is a possible clue to the identity of one of the members of the Collective, Blur.

Page 128 gives us another "you kids" clue about Leto being Forkle.

Leto often checks his "overly gelled hair" (page 129).  Kenric's hair is "wild" and would need to be gelled in order to lay flat like Leto's.

On page 133, Leto is quite emotional about how he has never had a wife.  This also points to Kenric, who can't be with his beloved Oralie.

On page 215, Kenric gives Sophie a suggestion on how to inflict, but then he quickly adds, "At least, that's what I remember studying," as if he needs to explain how he knows so that it won't be suspicious.  If Kenric is Forkle, then he does know about Inflicting, since he worked on genetic experimentation with Inflicting.

On page 455, Sophie asks Forkle if he could betray his own father.  Mr. Forkle says that he's done far worse.  I've been thinking about what that could mean.  Of course, it could mean anything, but I want to focus on betrayal.  If Kenric is Forkle, then he betrayed Oralie by faking his own death.  That would be a very deep and hurtful betrayal.  

Leto gives off quite a few clues that he is Forkle.  The author deliberately places an increasing number of clues in the text as the story nears a coming big reveal.  In book 4, it will be revealed that Forkle and Leto are the same elf.  This is why I believe that all the clues that are in book 9 foreshadow the forthcoming reveal about who Forkle really is as well as the identity of Sophie's other biological parent.