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

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 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 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 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 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…"

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."

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