Friday, June 16, 2023

Keeper of the Lost Cities #9 The Forgotten Secrets

This post focuses on Kenric's cache and the seven Forgotten Secrets.  

Page 310   "You said yourself that most of the memories in Kenric's cache were too vague to really tell us anything," Mr. Forkle reminded her.  "Yeah, but that was before I understood what I was seeing.  Oralie said the challenge with Forgotten Secrets is that we don't have any context for the memories—and she was right."

The lack of context is brilliant, really.  The characters discuss how the memories have no context, so they are difficult to understand.  It's fascinating to see how many readers have completely missed what is hinted at in the cached memories.  It takes multiple readings of the memories in order to grasp what is being revealed.

Many reviews for this book mention how boring the memories are and how the book drags.  I disagree.  The most interesting part of this book, aside from Ro's conversation with Sophie and what later happens with Sophie and Keefe, is the cached memories.  The reader is given a series of important clues via the memories, and the clues are presented in a sly fashion where the reader must read through the memories multiple times in order to figure out what each memory means. 

I was driven to write this series of posts because I couldn't find any really good online discussion of this content.  All I could find were complaints about the book being boring.  Fine.  If I can't find any discussion, I'll just hash it out by myself.  That, at least, gives me some satisfaction.  And maybe a few people will read my posts and get something out of them.


This post contains MAJOR SERIES SPOILERS.  Stop reading NOW if you have not already read this book.


Page 190   "He wanted to make sure you'd have a way of accessing the memories if you needed them—but he also wanted to make sure you couldn't do it without me.  I guess he wanted us to work together."

Page 192   "For Kenric's, he chose to have it require only one thing—though I wish he'd picked something else.  I worked so hard to break myself of this nervous habit."  She reached up, tugged on her eyelashes, and held out the one she pulled free.  "Huh," Dex said, "I've never seen anyone do that besides Sophie."  "Me neither," Oralie said.  "Strange coincidence."  Sophie looked anywhere but at her.

It is clear that Kenric wanted Oralie present when the cache is opened.  This might be because he wanted to make certain that Oralie views the memories so that she will figure out that he is Mr. Forkle.  And of course Kenric also wanted Sophie to know the truth.  Making it where Oralie must tug out an eyelash in order to open the cache provides an obvious clue that Oralie is Sophie's mother, in the event that Sophie hadn't already figured that out.

Page 195   "Kenric's hair.  He always wore it in a ponytail like that—until I teased him about it at my inauguration.  Next time I saw him, he'd cut it short, and he kept it that way."  "You did him a favor," Dex told her, flashing a dimpled grin.  Oralie didn't return his smile.  She just stared and stared at Kenric, like she was a prisoner and he was the gateway to freedom.

This is rather sad and shows how deeply Oralie loves Kenric.

Forgotten Secret #1:  Bronte and Kenric dealing with a dead gnome

Page 197   "You have more experience with everything, Bronte.  You can't always claim seniority.  Plus, you were away working on the mysterious investigation you refuse to tell us about."

I continue to wonder what Bronte's investigation was.

Page 199   "It's been about three hundred seconds," Kenric announced several minutes later.

This is a huge clue about Kenric.  Sophie counts the seconds, and so does Kenric.  This means that Sophie and Kenric share an odd habit.  Sophie shares an odd habit (tugging out her eyelashes) with her mother, so now we know that she shares an odd habit with Kenric, who is likely her father.

Page 206   Councillors weren't allowed to date or marry or have families of their own because it could bias their decisions.  But Kenric had asked Oralie to resign with him so they could be together—and Oralie had refused.  Not because she didn't love him.  Because she needed to stay on the Council.  Partially for her own ambitions.  And partially so she'd be in a position to protect Sophie.

Forgotten Secret #2:  Kenric requesting a matchmaker give him the hypothetical match lists for himself and Oralie

Page 209   Kenric sighed, tracing his fingers over the smooth stones in his circlet.  "You're right, of course.  But… between you and me, I'd get rid of those rules if I could."  Behnam glanced over his shoulder.  "You should be careful who hears you say that.  Especially here."

Page 210   "What if I told you that neither of us was going to remember the rest of this conversation?" Kenric asked quietly.  "Everything from this moment on will be erased.  Behnam's eyebrows lifted.  "Then what's the point?"  "This way I'll be able to remember that I asked.  But I won't know whether or not you answered."

This statement doesn't make sense.  What is the point of asking if he won't remember the answer?  Kenric must be lying to Behnam about why he wants to see the hypothetical match lists.

Page 210   "No, I suppose it doesn't."  Kenric buried his face in his hands and took a long breath.  "I realize this is a tremendous ask.  I'm just… running out of ideas for how to move on—and I have to move on.  Surely you can understand that."

Kenric is lying.  How would knowing for sure whether Oralie is his number one match help him move past the fact that he can never be matched with her?  If she is his number one match, then that would be devastating.  If not, then I suppose it could help.  However, Kenric claims that he's erasing the memory, so none of this makes any sense.  Kenric is instead manipulating Behnam into giving him the information that he seeks.

Page 211   But in the projection, Behnam leaned forward and told Kenric, "Truthfully, I do understand why you need this answer.  So I'll plug in the data for you—but I feel the need to remind you that it will always be impossible.  She already collected all five of her lists.  No more can ever be issued."

Page 212   Kenric's number one match was Oralie.  And Oralie's number one match was Kenric.

Page 213   "I don't understand," Oralie whispered, closing her palm around the cache to block the projection.  "This isn't a Forgotten Secret.  It's… I don't know what it is."  "It's something Kenric didn't want to remember," Sophie mumbled.  "But I'm pretty sure he didn't want to forget it either."  Oralie's laugh was equal parts bitter and broken.  "Well, how nice of him to leave it in his cache for anyone to find."

Kenric put the information in his cache because he wanted it to be found.

Page 213   "And by the time he decided to give it to you, he wouldn't have had any idea what was in there, right?"  "No, he wouldn't.  But Kenric was usually far more cautious when it came to… these kinds of things."

Oralie wonders why Kenric would carelessly put information like this in his cache.  That's exactly it; the information was not placed in the cache carelessly.  He wanted Oralie and Sophie to have this information.  Also, I highly doubt that Kenric was unaware that this information was in his cache.  After all, if Kenric is Forkle, then he had an identical twin brother.  The memory would likely have been shared with his twin brother before being erased, and then the twin brother would have shared it with him again.  The same would be true for all of Kenric's Forgotten Secrets.

Since this memory makes no sense on the surface, it means that Kenric is up to something that he isn't telling Behnam.  I believe that Kenric is seeking information for use in Project Moonlark.  In order for the moonlark to have the greatest potential, the child would need to be the offspring of a pair of number one matches.  Kenric is actually making certain that he and Oralie are number one matches.   

Page 214   "Kenric and I… we had a very special connection.  Add in the fact that Empaths and Telepaths are frequently matched with each other, and… no, I wasn't surprised to see his name at the top of my list, or mine at the top of his.  But… we also wanted different things—and no matchmaker would ever be able to account for that."

Somehow I doubt that Kenric and Oralie wanted different things.  I think they wanted all of the same things, but Oralie was unaware.

Page 214   "Why are Empaths and Telepaths usually matched together?" Dex asked.  Oralie cleared her throat again and dabbed the corners of her eyes.  "The abilities complement each other.  Both are introspective—but in very different ways, which allows each partner to find a deeper understanding of the other." 

Forgotten Secret #3:  Kenric and Oralie arguing in Kenric's readying room

Page 217   "I know you want me off the Council."  "I do?"  Kenric lowered himself into the chair and propped up his feet.  "That's news to me."

Page 217   She leaned closer, placing her hand over his.  "You're a better liar than most.  But I can still tell."

Page 218   "I'm not a fan of you, either."  Kenric's lips twitched with a smile: "Is that so?"  "Yes.  You're arrogant and boring.  And you have terrible taste in everything."  She crinkled her nose at his orange tunic—which did clash with his bright red hair.

Page 218   "And there it is," Kenric said, pointing to the hand she'd placed over her heart.  "The wide-eyed innocent act you love to hide behind."  "There's no act!"  "Really?  So you parade around in pink and ruffles because you want to be taken seriously?"  "No, I dress this way because I like the way I look."  "Pretty sure it's because you like to be admired."  Kenric stood up to face her.

Page 220   "So you didn't declare Lady Fayina dead within two days of her disappearance
without finding a bodyand then find yourself conveniently free to work one-on-one with Councillor Emery on something else?"  "Wow," the real Oralie whispered, "I had no idea he once thought that little of me."  Her projection looked just as offended.

Page 222   "I'm capable.  And I'm tired of being treated like I'm weak!"  "I don't think you're weak, Oralie.  In fact, I'm fairly certain you're stronger than all of us.  But your ability will always make you more vulnerable to certain things."

Page 222   "Take a reading if you think I'm lying."  He held out his hand.  "And just think:  If you take this deal, you'll get your answer and you'll get to yell at me all over again.  I'll even make sure you're holding a beverage, in case you want to splash it in my face!"  

Page 222   "During my last investigation, I learned that we've been imprisoning someone for thousands of years—someone whose crimes were so horrible, they've been completely stricken from any kind of record."

Page 223   "Emotions can't be erased.  They can only be buried or misdirected—which is much harder to do with an Empath."

Page 224   "Does that mean Kenric tried to stop the Neverseen from breaking Vespera out of Lumenaria?"

Page 224   Now she couldn't help thinking about how different things would be if Kenric had done his job.  Mr. Forkle's twin would still be alive.  So would Lumenaria's guards.  Her human parents never would've been taken and tortured.  Biana's arms wouldn't be covered in scars.  The troll hive at Everglen never would've—

This memory shows how Kenric and Oralie did not get along with each other at first.  We also learn that Kenric apparently knew about Vespera and that it could be considered his fault that Vespera escaped from Lumenaria.

Also of note is that Kenric props up his feet.  He does that in this memory and in Forgotten Secret #5.  I mentioned in my previous post that Forkle as Leto props his feet on his desk on page 490.  The reader is being led to draw a connection between Kenric and Forkle/Leto.

We learn that Kenric was a good liar.  We know that Forkle is a good liar.

Forgotten Secret #4:  Kenric and Oralie questioning Fintan about stellarlune

Page 226   It was even weirder watching Kenric smile at the elf who murdered him.

Page 232   "Though… Kenric could be quite intimidating when he wanted to be."

Page 232   He'd also known that she was Oralie's biological daughter, or suspected it anyway, which might've motivated him to be extra nice to her—even though it also meant he was yet another person constantly lying to her.

Page 233   "Weren't you the one who added 'monitoring and observation' to the dwarven treaty?  Or was that Fallon's doing?"  "It was me," Fintan said quietly.  "But when I made that arrangement, I never thought you'd use it to monitor people for existing—which is what you're doing to me."

Page 234   "Something's missing," Fintan whispered, holding the flower so close, Sophie could see the fire reflecting in his pupils.  "I need to…"

Page 237   "How about we make a deal?" Fintan countered, waving his hand to extinguish the circle of flames he'd tried to trap Oralie with.  "I agree to answer your question if you agree to do something for me."  Kenric shook his head.  "I don't make deals."  "You should.  I could be a valuable ally."  "I don't need allies."  Fintan's vicious smile returned.  "Someday that may change."

Page 238   "What do you think Fintan wanted from him?” she whispered.  "I can't begin to imagine," the real Oralie told her.  "But I'm sure it would've been something Kenric couldn't give."

Page 242   "I'm not convinced that anyone should have to lose any memories," Fintan snapped back.  "But I'm not in charge—at the moment."

Page 243   But once again, they'd finished a memory and learned nothing
—except that Kenric either lied when he told Oralie he'd slipped past Fintan's mental defenses, or he'd been fooled by a pretty simple trick.

We learn here that Fintan served on the Council at the same time as Fallon.  Could Fintan be one of the three Founding Councillors?

I wonder if Kenric did make a deal with Fintan.  It appears that he didn't, but we don't really know.  Kenric could have come back at a later time and made a deal with Fintan.  I wonder about this because Fintan faked his death in the Everblaze, and I'm certain that Kenric did as well.  That's quite a coincidence for both of them to fake their deaths at the same time and seemingly on the spur of the moment. 

Fintan's statement that he's "not in charge—at the moment" sounds a bit ominous.  We now know that Fintan does want to be in charge and that he is working with the Neverseen in order to gain power.

The rest of Forgotten Secret #4 (taken from Book 8.5 and repeated here due to importance):  Kenric reveals to Oralie that he knows about Project Moonlark

Book 8.5, Page 529   Kenric pulled his hands away from her.  "Let's just say that sometimes I'm not particularly proud to call myself a Councillor."  "It's that bad?" she whispered.  He looked pale when he nodded. "Some days I dream about walking away."  "You mean resigning?" Oralie clarified.  He hesitated before stepping closer.  "I've done my share for my people, Ora.  I'd have zero problem letting someone else take over.  But… I won't go unless you resign with me."  Everyone sucked in a breath:  Sophie, Oralie, Oralie's projection—even Kenric, as if he couldn't believe he'd just said that.  But he didn't take it back.

Book 8.5, Page 530   He leaned toward her, and her lips parted, like she might let him kiss her.  But at the last second she turned her face away.  "I can't do this."  He turned her chin back toward him.  "Can't?  Or won't?"  "Both."

Book 8.5, Page 530   Kenric tilted his head.  "There's something you're not telling me."  "No—"  "There is.  I know you too well, Ora.  In fact… I might even know what it is."

Book 8.5, Page 531   "That time when you were ill," he interrupted.  "When you wouldn't let me take you to see any physicians.  I stayed by your side the whole night, just to be safe.  And there were a few moments when I couldn't tell if you were asleep or awake.  You'd toss and turn and whisper something over and over.  Something that sounded… a lot like suldreen."

Book 8.5, Page 531   "I saw how upset you were when Prentice was exiled.  And I saw the look on your face when Alden brought us that strand of DNA.  Everyone thought it was a hoax or a misunderstanding—but not you.  Don't try to deny it, Ora.  I saw you flinch when he used the phrase 'Project Moonlark.'  And you've tried harder than anyone to stop Alden's search.  You think I don't know that you're the one who convinced Bronte to place someone in Quinlin's office to keep an eye on things?"

Book 8.5, Page 531  "So he knew," Sophie said as both Oralies let out a strangled sob.  "He knew you're my… "  "He must have," the real Oralie whispered.

Book 8.5, Page 532   Oralie pressed her hand against her stomach.  "The process of giving the Black Swan what they needed for your genetics turned out to be more involved than I expected—physically and emotionally.  And Kenric stopped by right after I returned home from the procedure.  I tried to hide it from him, but I nearly fainted just answering the door.  So he insisted on taking care of me.  But… I woke up alone.  He told me he went home after I finally fell asleep.  Apparently not.”

The information from this portion of the Forgotten Secret establishes that Kenric knew about Project Moonlark and also knew that Oralie was Sophie's biological mother.  Furthermore, Kenric didn't want to be a Councillor anymore.  This means that he most likely did fake his death in Book 3.

Forgotten Secret #5:  Kenric and Prentice in Kenric's library

Page 244   There was Kenric, sitting in a cluttered library.  And in the armchair across from him sat Prentice.

Page 247   Kenric propped his feet on what looked like a polished tree stump.

Page 247   Kenric downed his drink in one gulp.  "Because I have a proposition of sorts, for the most talented Keeper I've ever met."  "The most talented," Prentice repeated, tucking several of his dreadlocks behind his ears.  "That is some heavy flattery.  Sounds like this is going to be a big proposition."  "It is," Kenric agreed.

Page 248   Sophie frowned, trying to do the mental math.  "Wait—if Wylie was three, wasn't Prentice already working with the Black Swan during this memory?"  "I'm not sure that we know exactly when he swore fealty," Oralie told her.  "But he might've been, since he was arrested a few years later."

Page 250   "You're right—and there's no subtle way of saying this, so I'll just have to put it out there.  I brought you here because I'm hoping you'll be willing to serve as my Keeper."  He let that sink in before he added, "Off the record."

Page 253   "My training as a Washer has taught me how to hide memories in a very specific way, where the person holding them remains completely unaware—but the memories can easily be triggered if the need arises.  And I, as your partner, would know the triggers.  They would be carefully selected words or phrases containing enough of a clue about the secret that I'd be able to recognize any need to call for it, yet remain completely in the dark otherwise."

Page 254   Prentice shook his head.  "We all know how easily information can leak."  "Not if you and I are the only ones who know we're working together.  I'd tell the Council that I have a Keeper—but not your identity.  And I would sooner let my sanity shatter than expose you."

Page 255   What if Kenric was the reason Prentice was arrested?  Or part of it, at least?

Page 255   And either way… Kenric was yet another person who should've come to Prentice's defense and didn't.

Page 255   Kenric was dead.  Prentice's memories were gone.  And nothing would ever change that.  "Seriously, are you okay?" Dex asked, pointing to Sophie's white-knuckled fists.  She relaxed her grip.  "Yeah. I just… wish we knew if Prentice agreed to Kenric's plan.  But with the way these memories are going, I have a feeling it's going to cut off before we get that answer."

Page 258   "Are the Councillors using Keepers now?  Don't say you can't tell me—"  "We're not," Oralie cut in.  "As far as I know, Kenric never made the suggestion.  I'm assuming that means Prentice chose not to take him up on his offer—or that their tests to protect his sanity failed."

Page 259   "But remember:  Kenric recorded each of these memories for a very specific reason.  We just need more time to understand why."

This memory unpacks some very important clues.  I was a bit puzzled by the memory the first two or three times that I read it.  I then had a lightbulb moment when I realized the context.  Remember that these memories are problematic due to the lack of context.

I at first took the memory at face value and accepted that Kenric wanted Prentice to be his personal Keeper as stated.  I didn't understand, since I knew that Prentice actually became the Keeper of the Black Swan.  I finally realized that Kenric wasn't saying what he really meant.  Kenric was requesting that Prentice be the Keeper of the Black Swan.  Kenric is Forkle.  It all makes sense.  He just wasn't going to mention his little rebel group the Black Swan until after Prentice agreed to be his Keeper.

On page 253, Kenric specifies that he knows how to hide memories so that they can be retrieved with a word or phrase.  Forkle has mentioned doing exactly this with Sophie.  In Book 3 page 377, we learn that this is called "implanting" and that it is "a super-hard skill only a few people can really pull off."  How curious that few people can do it, yet both Kenric and Forkle have this ability.

This Forgotten Secret also confirms that Kenric was a Washer.  Forkle is a Washer as well, since he has erased some of Sophie's memories.  It's strange how much Kenric and Forkle have in common.

Forgotten Secret #6:  Oralie and Kenric in Elysian

Page 260   "But I remember the jerkin Kenric's wearing.  Look at those stripes—have you ever seen anything so hideous?"

Page 260   Kenric told her, "I can't tell you that."  "That's absurd," Oralie's projection snapped.  "If you can bring me here, then surely—"  "Honestly?" Kenric interrupted.  "I'm not even supposed to be here.  No one is.  According to every map and record I've checked, this place doesn't exist.  It doesn't even have a name."

Page 262   Kenric nodded.  "That was one of the details that helped me find this place.  Something had mentioned 'whispering rapids,' so when I found this river, I followed it here."

Page 264   "I've heard stories," she told Kenric as turned to scan the meadow, "that there are certain rare forms of energy that can mess with our senses.  Perhaps one of them is here and that's what we're both picking up."

I find it interesting that on page 487 of this book Forkle says, "But I've lost far too many years searching for rivers that do not exist."  Odd, since Kenric seems to have been the one chasing after rivers.

Forgotten Secret #7: the map of Elysian

Page 267   And the more she studied the symbol, the more her brain seemed to prickle with a strange sort of familiarity.  Somehow she knew she'd seen it before—even though she was also positive that she hadn't.  Which could only mean one thing.  A long time ago—before she knew about elves or caches or the giant conspiracies she was caught up in—the Black Swan planted that same image into her brain, along with all their other secrets.

Page 270   It'd been years since she'd triggered any of the secrets that Mr. Forkle had planted inside her brain.  In fact, she often forgot that there was still information tucked away.  And sometimes she worried the reason the memories never popped up was because the Black Swan hadn't properly prepared her for the problems they were facing.

Page 271   If the Black Swan knew the symbol was important, why hide it in her mind and never bother telling her anything about it?  What good did that do for anyone?

Here we find out that Kenric had a map of Elysian, which he placed in his cache.  But of course Forkle had the map as well (which is just more evidence that Kenric is Forkle), and he implanted the map in Sophie's mind.

Page 293   "Then why would Kenric save the map in his cache?" Sophie argued.  "Probably the same reason I gave the memory to you."  Mr. Forkle turned away, staring out the window, where Edaline was now riding the Spinosaurus around one of the pastures.

Mr. Forkle knows why, and he speaks the truth when he says it was for the same reason.  I also find it noteworthy that after making this statement Forkle turns and stares out the window in kind of an evasive action.

On page 253 in Forgotten Secret #5, Kenric says, "My training as a Washer has taught me how to hide memories in a very specific way, where the person holding them remains completely unaware—but the memories can easily be triggered if the need arises."

The key word from the above statement is triggered.

On page 270, Sophie thinks, "It'd been years since she'd triggered any of the secrets that Mr. Forkle had planted inside her brain."  There's that key word again: triggered.  Sophie has all the clues she needs, but she's got to put them together to form the answers.

All of this taken together, I believe that Kenric is alive, that he's Forkle, and that he's Sophie's biological father.

More on the Forgotten Secrets here:

Keeper of the Lost Cities #9 More on the Forgotten Secrets

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