Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Keeper of the Lost Cities #5 Summary and Observations

Overview of plot (beware, spoilers):

Keefe joins the Neverseen in order to find out about their plans.

Sophie probes Prentice's mind, hoping to find some answers.

Sophie and her friends go with Mr. Forkle to investigate the Neverseen's hideout in Paris.  They discover the Lodestar symbol.

The Council decides that everyone should be trained to use their skills, so all elves will begin Exillium training on the Foxfire campus.

The kids learn that Juline is Squall.

Dex finds a listening device in Sophie's imparter.  They then figure out that Sophie somehow has Keefe's imparter.

Wylie is attacked by the Neverseen. 

Sophie and Fitz meet with Oralie at her castle, hoping to set up a meeting with Gethen.

Keefe leaves a leaping crystal in Sophie's bedroom.  Sophie and Fitz meet with Keefe.

Grady and Sophie talk about boys and feelings.  Sophie is oblivious about her relationship with Keefe.

Exillium training begins at Foxfire. 

Maruca reaches out to Sophie, wanting to see Wylie.

Sophie goes with Mr. Forkle and Oralie to see Gethen at Lumenaria.  They don't find out much except that perhaps Cyrah was connected to the Neverseen.

The ogres attack Havenfield.  Grady and Edaline are okay, but two goblin guards were killed.  Lady Cadence was injured.

Marella wants Mr. Forkle to trigger her ability.  He attempts to do so.  Later, he triggers Sophie as an Enhancer.

Sophie, Fitz, and Tam end up at a Neverseen hideout and subdue Ruy and Brant.  Sophie calls to Greyfell and Silveny, who rescue them.

Alluveterre is now known to the Neverseen.  On the other hand, the Black Swan now have the means to get to a number of the Neverseen's hideouts.

Granite mentions his son in front of the Councillors, which gives them a clue to his identity.

Sophie speaks to Lady Gisela via Keefe's rigged imparter.

Mr. Forkle is killed by Gethen.  

Sophie realizes that the Neverseen were after her human parents, not Grady and Edaline.

Please visit the following page for a link to my previous post about this book.

Keeper of the Lost Cities Summaries, Reviews, and Theories

Page 162:  The Lodestar mirror reflected pure light, and Sophie kept thinking that had to mean something.  But... the mirror was centuries old.

I'm sure that it does mean something important to the Lodestar Initiative.  What that might be is anybody's guess.

Page 296:  Your mom?  Wylie shifted back to surly teenager form.  What did they want to know about her? she asked.  "They thought I was with her when she made her last leap.  I kept telling them I wasn't, but they kept burning me over and over and telling me it would stop when I stopped lying.  They didn't get it.  She died because I found her too late."

Cyrah is very important for some reason.  On page 477, Gethen tells Sophie that Cyrah's connection to the Neverseen was interesting and that it had to do with starstones.

Page 342:   All Fintan does is take me to crowded places and make me isolate each person's feelings.

Page 344:   Plus there aren't any other Empaths to train me.  I asked him why, and he said, "It's rare to find those who are open to new sensations."

Page 345:   Before he brings me back to the hideout, he always asks, "If you could only save one of these people, who would you save?"

Page 401:   But it's starting to feel like they're doing some sort of... gathering.  It's almost like Fintan has this list of people and information he needs, and he's checking them off one by one.

I continue to try to make sense of what Fintan is doing.

Page 433:   "No, Mr. Forkle has been invited to represent the Black Swan.  The order has made a name for itself in recent months, and the world leaders have requested to hear its thoughts on the negotiations as well."

Page 609:  "And while the Black Swan have proven themselves to be both resourceful and reasonable
—which is why they're represented here at this Summit—the Neverseen have unfortunately caused incredible chaos.

The Black Swan has risen in prominence and credibility.  In this book, Mr. Forkle is able to meet with the Council to negotiate.  The relations between the Council and the Black Swan have improved, although Emery continues to try to read Mr. Forkle's thoughts.

Oralie and the Black Swan are also working more closely, since Oralie takes Sophie and Mr. Forkle to talk to Gethen.

Stop reading NOW if you have only read the series up through to this book.  The rest of this post contains major plot spoilers from later books in the set.  


This passage on page 43 is significant.  If you've read my past posts, then you're aware that I'm 100% convinced that Kenric is Forkle/Leto and that he is Sophie's genetic father.

"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."

[This commentary is nearly identical to what I have in another post.  I decided to leave it in both posts.] 

I believe Leto's statement is technically true but highly misleading.  I finally worked out what he is doing.  Councillor Kenric was not involved with Project Moonlark; rather, Mr. Forkle was involved.  Kenric's Black Swan activities were, technically speaking, completed as Mr. Forkle.  So, it is true to say that Kenric wasn't involved in Project Moonlark.

Also, Leto is tracing Sophie's scar as he says that Kenric wasn't involved.  It's like he's talking about the scar, which was caused by Forkle.  Kenric didn't cause the scar, not technically.

Finally, Leto doesn't answer the question, "Was Kenric my father?"  He instead answers, "Kenric wasn't involved with Project Moonlark."  That isn't a denial; it's a statement that is unrelated to the question that was asked.

Therefore, Leto is deliberately misleading Sophie.

Page 48:  "When it comes to Prentice, I never seem to follow the course of wisdom.  I suppose I feel too responsible."

That's not surprising.  Based on the Forgotten Secrets of Book 9, Kenric asked Prentice to be the Keeper of the Black Swan.  That would make him feel responsible for what happened to Prentice.

Page 153:  "And therein lies the problem of only having pieces of information," Mr. Forkle told her.  "It raises more questions than it answers."

This makes me think of the Forgotten Secrets from the caches.  The secrets have no context, so we have to try to figure out what they mean, and we could be guessing wrong.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Keeper of the Lost Cities #4 Summary and Observations

Overview of plot (beware, spoilers):

Oralie gives Kenric's cache to Sophie, telling her that Kenric thought that the cache would help keep her safe.

Sophie and her friends join the Black Swan and go into hiding.  A virus, possibly started by the ogres, is spreading among the gnomes.

Dex breaks into the Council's archives and finds the records of past Exillium students.

Sophie and Fitz begin Cognate training.

Sophie, Keefe, and Mr. Forkle visit Gethen where they have him held captive.  They try to get some information from him. 

Dex figures out how to access the Lumenaria secret database.

The Black Swan breaks into Exile to rescue Prentice, but they are nearly captured by the Council, which had set a trap.  The Black Swan agrees to trade Gethen for Prentice.

Dex decides to be more friendly towards Fitz.

The plague continues spreading through the gnome population.  Keefe is upset they aren’t doing anything about the Neverseen.

Sophie and her friends attend Exillium, where they meet Linh and Tam.

As the plague spreads through the gnomes, the Council is forced to admit that they knew the source of the plague all along and that they had kept quiet.  King Dimitar reveals that he has a cure for the plague.  Fintan reveals himself to be alive.

Sophie and her friends travel to Ravagog to steal the cure from King Dimitar.  Sophie probes his mind and learns that the cure is a lie.  Later, Calla realizes what the Panakes are, and she sacrifices herself to create one.  The Panakes will cure the plague.

Sophie gets a new registry pendant and is no longer banished.  Greyfell and Silveny are set free to keep them away from the Neverseen.

Keefe runs away to join the Neverseen.

Forkle and Granite reveal themselves as Magnate Leto and Tiergan.

Please visit the following page for a link to my previous post about this book.

Keeper of the Lost Cities Summaries, Reviews, and Theories

Page 204:  He turned to Keefe.  "You're confident you can mimic your mother's voice?"  "You have no idea how many detentions I've talked my way out of."  Mr. Forkle didn't find that as reassuring as Keefe intended.  But all he said was, "Be ready at sunrise."

Ha.  Of course Forkle wouldn't be reassured.  Keefe doesn't yet know that Forkle is Magnate Leto, their principal.  Leto can't be happy to learn that Keefe talks his way out of detentions.

Page 354:  Sophie was surprised Blur let Tiergan, Magnate Leto, and Wylie join them.

Yeah, it is a bit strange for one member of the Collective to allow three elves not in the Black Swan to join a private Black Swan meeting.  Of course it soon makes sense once Sophie learns that Tiergan and Leto are part of the Black Swan.

Page 259:   I believe we will always need a Black Swan.  The world has gotten too complicated to leave any one group solely in charge.  There needs to be a system of checks and balances.  We do hope to someday work hand in hand with the Council.  But even if that never happens, we should be there to keep them honest.

I like Forkle's explanation of the importance of the Black Swan.

Stop reading NOW if you have only read the series up through to this book.  The rest of this post contains some significant plot spoilers from later books in the set.  


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

I am certain that important information about Prentice is being withheld from readers.  In Book 3, we learn that Prentice recruited Jolie for the Black Swan.  Jolie also appears in Prentice's mind when Sophie probes it.  There is something important about both Jolie and Prentice that we do not know.  What is it?

Page 536:  "Because sometimes you have to let things burn to let something better rise from the ashes."  He tossed the fireball up and caught it with his other hand a split second before it would've ignited the building.

I'm still trying to figure Fintan out.  This is important information.

Page 539:  "How could he be alive?" Sophie asked.  "Alden saw the flames overwhelm him."  "Clearly there was some trick," Sir Astin whispered.  "Does that mean—"  "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?  Let that thought go—now.  It will only distract you from our actual problem"

I am certain that Kenric is not dead and that he is Forkle/Leto/Astin, as detailed in my past posts.  Astin is too quick to shut down discussion of Kenric being alive.  The reason he shuts it down is because he is Kenric.  He doesn't want Sophie to guess the truth. 

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Another Selling Update + Assorted Selling Thoughts and Information

I have been throwing up everything that I can find that I don't already have listed for sale.  My eBay store currently stands at 600 listings.  I have 310 listings on Etsy.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

I purchased a bunch of cookbooks at the Fall Better Books Sale.  I listed all of them this weekend.

I listed assorted Nancy Drew, Kay Tracey, Ruth Fielding, Mildred Wirt Benson, Ted Wilford, Beverly Gray, Cherry Ames, Hardy Boys, Three Investigators, and Sweet Valley High books.

I am testing the waters with auctions of six Trixie Belden Goldencraft hardcover editions.

Trixie Belden Goldencraft auctions

As I prepared to list the books, I wrote the following on my Facebook page.

I have quite a dilemma with the Trixie Belden Goldencraft hardcover editions.  These are the ones that I plan to sell.  I was thinking of fixed-price listings, but I can't find good data on what the books are currently worth.  I know what I paid for them 15-20 years ago.  

I ran a search for "Goldencraft" in the Trixie Belden group.  That revealed how many people are working on completing their sets.  My conclusion is that I need to auction the books in individual listings, even though I have a bad track record with auctions.  I understand that my auction problem is because I will not start the listings at low prices.  I can't risk that.  

Since I will be selling so many of them, I think the best approach is to auction just some at a time.  I might do around 9-10 at a time, staggered over a few weeks.  My starting bids will vary widely based on condition, whether circulated, and price paid.  I will mull this over a bit more.

It was suggested that the price I paid has no bearing on what the current market will bear.  Of course not.  But allow me to explain.

I can only find three Trixie Belden Goldencraft books in eBay's Terapeak results.  Two of them are extras that I sold awhile back.  The third book was sold by someone else at an extremely low Buy It Now price, definitely below value.  This means that I have no useful information on what the books are currently worth.  

When I have nothing, then the price I paid is the only point of reference that I have.  Let's say that I paid $20 for a book.  I would at first price it at $30 to try to cover what I paid.  If the book doesn't sell within a certain number of months, then I would begin to lower the price.  I would go down to $25 and wait some more.  I would then go down to $20.

If I paid $10 for the same book, then I might start at $20.  I'm quite aware that books are not necessarily worth what I paid for them.  I have books up for sale right now at steep losses.  I have other books up for sale at a profit, if they sell.  It just depends.

When I listed my auctions, I made sure that they were spaced at least a few minutes apart to give bidders time to bid on multiple auctions.  It will be interesting to see what happens.  Right now, I feel it most likely that the books will sell at the opening bids or not at all.  If this is what happens, then I will create fixed-price listings for the rest of my set. 

Auctions don't typically work for me.  As a buyer, I now hate them and avoid them unless what is offered is special.  I can't be the only one who feels that way.

Media mail goes up again in January.  Here is a comparison of the current rates (left) and the upcoming rates (right).

I am well past caring what prospective buyers think.  I am currently charging either $4.95 or $5.95 to ship one book depending upon whether the package will be over or under 1 pound.  I will probably leave the shipping charges the same, but it's obvious that I will have to raise them again before too much longer.  It's not just the postage that's going up; it's also the cost of supplies.

I don't add the postage cost to the price of my books.  I realized years ago that buyers greatly prefer for the postage cost to be separate so that they can get combined shipping.  Buyers also have the added value incentive of the free shipping promotion that I offer.  I get many orders for just over the minimum for free shipping.  That's really important to buyers.

It's a win-win situation.  The buyer gets free shipping, and I end up selling more books.  

I have had an increase in sales during the last week on eBay, but that's only because of the large number of new items.  Some books listed are hard to find, and collectors grab what they need as soon as they see it.  

My previously-listed eBay inventory continues not to sell.  Sales on Etsy are also flat.  My goal this last week was to get as much listed as possible so that the books are available.  Gradually, books will sell. 

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Keeper of the Lost Cities #3 Summary and Observations

Overview of plot (beware, spoilers):

Sophie visits the sanctuary to see why Silveny is afraid of Greyfell, and she finds a tracker that was placed near Silveny's tail by the rebels.  Sophie learns that Silveny's tracker contained aromark, which is now on her hands.

Biana becomes a Vanisher.

Sophie tries to heal Brant, who resists and says that he doesn't want to be healed.

Sophie inflicts on Bronte at his request during their Inflicting session.  The session ends badly.

Sophie is ordered to heal Fintan.  Somehow all of the citizens know, so the Council must have a leak.  Sophie heals Fintan, and he sets the tower on fire with Everblaze.  Both Fintan and Kenric are killed in the fire. 

At Kenric's planting, Sophie attempts to enter the ogre king Dimitar's mind.  He senses it and declares that the ogre treaty with the elves has been violated.  Sophie now must face the consequences of her rash decision.

The Black Swan also has a leak.  Somehow, the rebels were able to follow Sophie and Keefe to the Black Swan's hideout when Mr. Forkle fixed Sophie's abilities.  The Black Swan attempts to find the leak by having Sophie and Keefe leap to multiple locations via the light of the unmapped stars.  The rebels are able to follow them.

Dame Alina is appointed as Councillor, and Master Leto replaces her as principal of Foxfire Academy. 

Sophie and Keefe request a meeting with Mr. Forkle.  The request is denied.

Sophie goes through Jolie's things, finding love letters from Brant.

Sophie learns that some dwarfs have disappeared mysteriously.

Mr. Forkle finally meets with Sophie and Keefe.  He informs them that Keefe is the Black Swan's leak.  Keefe and Sophie realize that the Sencen family crest, given to him by his dad, must be contaminated with aromark.  They believe that Lord Cassius is part of the Neverseen.

Sophie learns that Jolie was working for the Black Swan.

The Council vows to track down every member of the Black Swan and punish them.  They place an ability restrictor on Sophie's head.  The restrictor causes intense pain, torturing Sophie.  Dex is horrified that his invention was used against Sophie.

Only three Councillors appear to support Sophie: Terik, Oralie, and Bronte. 

All of Sophie's friends, family, and allies turn against the Council.  Grady resigns as emissary.  Alden considers resigning but decides to stay so that they will have someone on the inside.

Sophie realizes that Brant is the pyrokinetic who killed Jolie.  Grady is devastated.  She and Grady confront Brant, who informs them that Sophie's friends have walked into a trap at Mount Everest.

Sophie goes to Mount Everest to warn the Black Swan.  Keefe is surprised to see his mother, Lady Gisela, working with the rebels.  His father is not involved.

Sophie and her friends decide to join the Black Swan.  They have the full support of Alden, Della, Grady, and Edaline.

Please visit the following page for a link to my previous post about this book.

Keeper of the Lost Cities Summaries, Reviews, and Theories

On page 13, we learn that no match for Gethen can be found in the Council's database of elves.  Is Gethen someone in disguise?  Have his registry records been deleted?  Something is odd here.

From page 66:  She'd felt [Fintan's] fury toward the Council and knew he would stop at nothing to take them down..."

The Council made a big mistake by ordering the memory break on Fintan.

Page 185:  Fitz always seemed intimidated around Tiergan—probably because Tiergan used to hate the Vackers... But a lot had changed once Tiergan saw how deeply the guilt had affected Alden.

Tiergan was hostile towards Alden in the first book, but now he gets along with Alden.

Stop reading NOW if you have only read the series up through to this book.  The rest of this post contains some major plot spoilers from later books in the set.  


On page 133, Sophie notices that Leto has "ancient eyes."  On page 447, Forkle's eyes are described as "somehow impossibly ancient."  No other characters have eyes described as ancient in this particular book.  This is a clue pointing to Leto and Forkle being the same elf, which we learn to be true in the next book.

I am certain that Kenric is not dead and that he is Forkle/Leto, as detailed in my past posts.  Leto is very emotional when he says that he doesn't have a wife, as if he yearns for someone.  That someone is Oralie.  This is a clue pointing to Leto being Kenric.

On page 218, Kenric says, "You can do this."  This really stands out, since in Book 2 on page 141, Dex tells Sophie that Mr. Forkle had said in Paris, "You can do this, Sophie."  I mentioned how Leto and Forkle are described as having "ancient eyes" as a means of drawing a connection between them.  We learn in book 4 that they are one and the same.  We don't know yet about Kenric and Forkle/Leto, but similar phrases have been uttered by the characters, no doubt as clues.

If Kenric is Forkle/Leto, then there are two Kenrics.  I believe that the Kenric who was in the Inflicting session with Bronte is the surviving Forkle.  When Kenric is upstairs with Bronte waiting for Sophie, Leto is downstairs.  On page 210, Leto takes a good look at Dex's ring and the scar on Sophie's hand.  I suspect that he hadn't seen the scar before, so he is the late Forkle.  We know that the scar was caused by the surviving Forkle, who is Kenric upstairs with Bronte.

The Kenric in the Inflicting session seems to cover for himself when he mentions how Inflicting works. 

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." 

He added that last part to cover.  The surviving Forkle is the one who tested the Inflicting genes to make sure that they were safe for Sophie.  This is another clue that the Kenric in the Inflicting session is the surviving Forkle.

On page 328, Alden says, "I hope they'll elect a Councillor as compassionate and considerate as Kenric."

Someone compassionate and considerate would be likely to want to help his world by becoming a rebel leader.  
On page 332, Sophie recalls seeing Fintan wearing a robe in one of his memories.  From it, she learns that the rebels are the Neverseen.  I now realize that Fintan must have been with the Neverseen for a long time.  He might have founded the Neverseen.

On page 443, Keefe mentions that his mom mimics his dad all the time.  This is a clue about Lady Gisela pretending to be Lord Cassius that I missed even on my second reading of the books.

Keefe tries to get Sophie to see that what her genetic parents are potentially like doesn't define her. 

Page 444:  "But if they tell you that your mom is the most open, go-with-the-flow person they've ever known, is that suddenly going to make you stop being so stubborn or keeping so many secrets?"  "I doubt it," Sophie admitted.  "And what if they told you your dad was an even bigger rule breaker than me—not that that's possible.  Are you suddenly going to start ditching class and pranking Dame Alina—or, Magnate Leto, or whoever our principal is?"  "No."  "Right.  Because our family doesn't decide who we are.  We decide who we are."

Huh.  I think this is both an inside joke and a clue.  Oralie is a "go-with-the-flow person," and it is revealed in a later book that Oralie is Sophie's genetic mother.  We still don't know for sure about Sophie's genetic father, but I believe that he's Kenric/Forkle/Leto.  He would indeed be "an even bigger rule breaker" than Keefe.  

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

This, I believe, is Forkle referring to what he just did to Oralie when he and his twin faked Kenric's death.

I've been wondering what Forkle thinks about Sophie breaking the treaty by attempting to probe Dimitar's mind. 

Page 458:  "But after your incident with King Dimitar"—he muttered something under his breath that started with "you kids"—"we've put that plan on hold."

That's the closest we get to knowing what he thinks.

On page 494, Magnate Leto says, "I might not be a Councillor, but I am a Telepath..."  It's interesting how the Council isn't snootily telling anyone else that they aren't a Councillor.  Just Leto, who very recently was Councillor Kenric.

On page 529, we learn that Prentice had recruited Jolie for the Black Swan.

On page 530, Jolie's journal stated that strangers told her things like "The fall is never seen before the rising" and "The bold and brave are never seen."  This was the first time I noticed the words "never seen" in those statements, which obviously refer to the Neverseen.

Page 544:  Why had Brant been knocked back to safety, while Jolie had been surrounded?  It only made sense if he sparked the fire.

This was about Brant, but I'm thinking of the Everblaze sparked by Fintan.  We learn in a later book that Fintan didn't die in the Everblaze.  The above statement lets us know why.

Page 608:   "The safest place for you right now is with a group who knows how to hide.  Dex's parents agree as well." 

Of course they do.  Or at least, of course Dex's mom, Juline, does since she's with the Black Swan.

Here are some random thoughts.

Alina was very supportive of Sophie at first when Alina was principal.  When she becomes a Councillor, she changes completely.  I wonder if her initial support was just for show in order to gain favor.

I have mulled over why Kenric faked his death.  I first thought he did it so that he would have more time to be with the Black Swan.  But there were two twins, so I don't think that was it.  Oralie could be the reason why; he might have felt that he needed to let go of her.  Also, it might just be that a dead Kenric would never come under suspicion.  The Council was trying to figure out Forkle's identity.  Kenric's registry feed had to have anomalies.  A dead Kenric's registry feed would never be checked by the Council.  

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Keeper of the Lost Cities #2 Summary and Observations

Overview of plot (beware, spoilers):

Sophie uses her enhanced concentration to lead her to the alicorn, Silveny.  The Hekses try to take Silveny to rehabilitate her, but Alden lets her stay at Havenfield.

Sophie feels slightly dizzy whenever she leaps, a side effect of her recent abduction.  Light begins bothering Sophie, causing a headache.

Many people are beginning to question the Council's leadership.  Sophie notices that the people of Mysterium are afraid of her because of her recent abduction.

Sophie goes with Brady and Edaline to visit Jolie's Wanderling.  Sophie visits her own Wanderling and discovers a compass left there by the Black Swan.  They then visit Brant, who tells Sophie that he's seen her before.

Brady believes that the Black Swan murdered Jolie in retaliation because Brady refused to join the Black Swan.  Brady is resentful of the Council because they didn't respond the way he expected.

Footprints are found at Havenfield.  Sandor reveals that there is a way to trick his senses.  Silveny is scared.

Sophie goes with Alden to Exile to perform a memory break on Fintan.  Alden's mind is nearly broken by the experience.  Alden appears to get better, but when he sees Wylie later at Foxfire, his mind breaks with the guilt over his role in what happened to Prentice.

Tiergan, despite his anger and resentment towards Alden, is upset about Alden’s condition.

Sophie remembers her pink journal and remembers runes she wrote in the margin.  She finds that she no longer has the journal; she must have left it in San Diego in her old house.  

Sophie looks through Jolie's things searching for clues. 

Sophie continues to have trouble with her abilities.  She fades more than once and comes close to dying.  

Silveny teleports away with Sophie to some distant mountains.  This causes quite a scene with the Council and results in Sophie earning Keefe's admiration, since he loves anyone who causes trouble.

Sophie asks for Councillor Terik's help in finding her possessions from her San Diego home.  Terik takes Sophie to where the Fosters' things are stored, and Sophie retrieves her pink journal.  She is furious when she finds that pages have been torn out, presumably by Mr. Forkle.

With Keefe's help, Sophie figures out that she saw an elvin boy who disappeared when she was five years old.

Sophie receives a warning message from the Black Swan about poking into things she's not ready to know.  A piece of paper from her journal is attached to the note.

Master Leto is rather concerned about Sophie's reaction to the Lodestar mirror.  Sophie finds Leto to be very annoying and wishes he'd mind his own business.

The Black Swan informs Sophie that they can fix her.  Sophie flies on Silveny with Keefe to the Black Swan's cave hideout, where Mr. Forkle fixes her.  When Sophie and Keefe are ready to leave, the rebels attack, trying to take Silveny away.  Silveny's wing is broken during the battle.  Sophie realizes that she can teleport, so she is able to get all three of them back home to safety.

Now that Sophie has been fixed, she heals Alden. 

Sophie teleports with Silveny into the Celestial Festival, providing the spectacle that the Council requested.

Please visit the following page for a link to my previous post about this book.

Keeper of the Lost Cities Summaries, Reviews, and Theories

Page 66:  "I think Tolkien wrote them during the 1930s or '40s."  "That's back before the Human Assistance Program was banned."  Grady smiled when her eyebrows shot up.  "We used to send members of the nobility in disguise to try to teach humans our ways."

We can then conclude that the rebel groups likely ramped into overdrive after the end of World War 2.  The elves have mentioned having a problem with humans' weapons of mass destruction, so the atomic bomb would have been the reason.

Page 121:  "Not the way the Council wants to, no.  They want to reach out as allies.  But if the Black Swan were our allies, we wouldn't have to find them."

Grady makes this statement in reference to the Council wanting him to help find the Black Swan.  Grady believes the Black Swan are murderers.  I find it interesting that at this early stage that the Council wants to work with the Black Swan.  The Council soon turns against the Black Swan.

Page 309:  "Alden was the accuser, though," Tiergan said as he slowly crossed the room to where Alden lay.  "And he was wrong,"  He wiped a tear from his cheek and grabbed Alden by the shoulders.  "Why didn't you just listen to me when I told you he was innocent?  Was this worth it?"

Page 310:  "Guilt is a treacherous thing.  It creeps in slowly, breaking you down bit by bit.  I'd wager Alden's been on the verge of a break since he learned the Black Swan were on our side."

Page 322:  Tiergan fiddled with the edges of his sleeves.  "I've known more loss than anyone."

Tiergan decides to forgive Alden for the memory break on Prentice since Alden's guilt caused his mind to break.  I'm curious about Tiergan's statement about how he has known more loss than anyone.

Stop reading NOW if you have only read the series up through to this book.  The rest of this post contains some significant plot spoilers from later books in the set.  


Here are some passages about Fintan.

Page 205:  "So... he's been exiled?"  Last she'd heard, the Councillors were giving him a chance to confess before they took such a drastic measure.  "They moved him here earlier in the week.  I'll admit, I was surprised.  Normally, they wait until after..."  "After what?"

They moved rather quickly to condemn Fintan to Exile.  As we learn later, Fintan was not responsible for the fires.  Fintan may be a villain, but this was unjust.

Page 220:  Fintan's hands curled around the metal arms of his chair, turning his knuckles white.  "Our world is broken, Alden—and all the Council does about it is condemn anyone brave enough to acknowledge that we have a problem.  Break our minds, lock us deep in the earth, convince themselves that we are the criminals."

Page 221:  "And that's only a small problem," Fintan added, his voice building steam.  "Left to their own devices the Council will let everything we've built crumble to dust.  Someone had to stand up and fight for what matters—and while I'm not the one who cast the first sparks, I am willing to help keep the flames alive."

Page 239:  Glowing eyes peeked through bushes covered in blue ears, and butterflies with bright red lips whispered sounds like mush.

The passage from page 239 is from Fintan's memories.  This proves that Fintan knows about Elysian. 

Page 532:  Kenric stepped forward.  "I think perhaps we're focusing on the wrong concern.  Sophie, do you still have the compass that led you to the Black Swan?"

I believe that Kenric and Forkle are the same person.  This means that Kenric was a pair of identical twins.  Sophie has just returned from having one Forkle reset her abilities at the cave hideout.  This Kenric would be the other Forkle.  His question to Sophie is designed to keep anyone from suspecting his connection to the Black Swan.  After all, his statement makes it sound like he's hoping to get ahold of the compass so that the Council can find the Black Swan's hideout.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Keeper of the Lost Cities #1 Summary and Observations

Overview of plot (beware, spoilers):

An article about a San Diego prodigy is sent to Alden Vacker, who sends Fitz to find her.  Fitz locates Sophie, tells her that she's an elf, and brings her to the Lost Cities.  Sophie is accepted into Foxfire Academy.  Tiergan agrees to be Sophie's telepathy mentor even though he hates Alden.

Sophie begins school.  She struggles with alchemy and attempts to cheat on her midterm exam by reading Lady Galvin's mind.  Sophie confesses and is assigned detention.  Sophie meets Keefe.

In The Universe, Sophie is given an assignment to map six stars and bottle the light from a seventh star.  The assignment gets Sophie into trouble, since her bottled light is from an unmapped star.  A Tribunal is ordered, and Sophie is fortunately allowed to continue to attend school.

Dex gives Sophie an elixir to help her with exams.  It contains limbium and nearly kills Sophie. 

Sophie uses fire to warm the flareadon, Gildie, which upsets Grady and Edaline, since Jolie was killed by fire.  Grady and Edaline decide to cancel their adoption of Sophie.

The Black Swan sends Sophie everything she needs in order to bottle the Everblaze that is burning around the world.  Sophie flies with Gildie and captures some Everblaze.  Another Tribunal is ordered.

Sophie learns that Alden ordered Fitz and Biana to be friends with her.  She's devastated.  She hides in a nearby cave.  She and Dex are abducted by the Neverseen.

Someone rescues Sophie and Dex from the Neverseen but leaves them in Paris.  The Neverseen catch up to them again.  Sophie inflicts on the Neverseen and leaps the two of them away.

Sophie calls out to Fitz telepathically.  She and Dex are rescued.  It takes two weeks for Sophie to recover.  Sandor is assigned as her bodyguard. 

Sophie learns that Fintan didn't kidnap her.  She was instead kidnapped by an unregistered pyrokinetic.

Fintan claims he didn't start the Everblaze.

Sophie realizes that Mr. Forkle, her old neighbor, was the elf who rescued her.  He probably triggered her new abilities.  In addition to her new abilities of Inflictor and Polyglot, Sophie now also has enhanced concentration.

We learn that the Council decided to create a human Sanctuary 60 years ago [from 2011] because of weapons humans had developed.  This would have been in the early 1950s and a reaction to the atomic bombs of World War II.  Human contact was forbidden.

The Tribunal is held for Sophie.  Sophie is allowed to continue at Foxfire despite her failing grades.  Sophie decides to continue living with Grady and Edaline.

As I read through this book for the third time, I highlighted additional passages that I found were of interest.  This post includes my new highlights as well as some of my previous ones.  All of my previous highlights can be found in my original post about this book, which is linked on the following page.

Keeper of the Lost Cities Summaries, Reviews, and Theories

Page 41:  Mr. Forkle loved to start sentences with the words "you kids."  He was old and smelled like feet and was always complaining about something.

Page 262:  Ruckleberries were nasty, stinky little berries that brought impurities to the surface of a metal.  They also made your skin wrinkle like an elderly human's if any of the juice got on you—and you'd smell like feet all day—so most alchemists used other methods to purify metal.

This is what I love about these books.  Shannon Messenger has placed so many clues through the books.  She describes Mr. Forkle early in the book, and then she places the clue as to why he is wrinkled and smells like feet later in the book.  This is before we have any idea that Mr. Forkle is an elf in disguise.  Later, the characters figure it out.

Page 467:  "That's exactly what someone looks like when they've eaten ruckleberries.  See the way the skin looks stretched?  The body swells and wrinkles as the berries digest."  "He did smell like feet," Sophie remembered.

Stop reading NOW if you have only read this first book.  The rest of this post contains some plot spoilers from later books in the set.


Tiergan intrigues me.  We learn in Book 4 that he is part of the Black Swan's Collective.  At this point, we have no idea.  His reaction to meeting Sophie is interesting.

Page 91:  Tiergan spun toward her and his eyes did a quick inventory, widening when they locked with hers.

Page 91:  The way Tiergan was staring at her—like he'd just watched someone kill his favorite puppy—was officially weirding her out.

Page 92:  "Being a Telepath around humans is quite a burden.  I'll bet you've had terrible headaches and heard all kinds of things you didn't want to hear."

Page 92:  He frowned and looked away, mumbling something she mostly didn't understand.  But she thought she caught the word "irresponsible."

I first thought that Tiergan doesn't approve of Forkle's methods, since he calls placing Sophie with humans "irresponsible."  More likely, he's hiding his involvement in the Black Swan by deriding their actions.

Page 183:  She waited for Tiergan to tell her what to do, but he just stood there, studying her superintently, like he was searching for something.

Page 189:  "Only like the most famous telepathy Mentor ever.  He retired when his friend Prentice ended up in exile—it was like a protest or something."

Page 204:  "Stina still hadn't manifested a special ability, so it would kill her to know Sophie was a Telepath—being trained by the greatest telepathy Mentor ever.

I had forgotten that Tiergan is regarded so very highly as a Telepath.

Page 249:  "I will not have this argument again, Tiergan.  It was the Council's ruling.  I had no choice but to obey."  "There's always a choice," Tiergan insisted quietly.  Sophie knew they were talking about Prentice, and she knew she should be curious.

The Black Swan's Collective are always mentioning that Sophie has a choice.

Page 260:  Tiergan was so amazed that the thinking cap had no effect on her, he gave her an automatic 100 percent.

Page 325:  "Prentice was a Keeper for a group called the Black Swan, and the information he was hiding was you.  Where to find you.  I'd warned Prentice there would be consequences for helping the Black Swan, but he didn't listen."

This is interesting.  If we take this statement at face value and assume that Tiergan is being completely honest, then Tiergan was not a member of the Black Swan at the time that he warned Prentice.  This means that Tiergan joined the Black Swan as a result of what happened to Prentice. 

It's also possible that Tiergan was hiding his involvement by warning Prentice.  But then Tiergan could also be lying to Sophie; he might never have said anything to Prentice.

Page 326:  "A small group of insurgents in our society adopted the name.  A brewing rebellion—a black swan—in a society where rebellion isn't supposed to exist."  "How do you know so much about them?" she had to ask.  "You're not the only one with secrets you'd rather not share."

Tiergan is coming very close to admitting his association with the Black Swan.  When I first read this book, I didn't think anything of it.  Now, it's obvious.

Page 227:  "That sounds like what happens when someone does a brain push—using mental energy for telekinesis instead of core energy.  But a brain push is a highly specialized skill only the Ancients can pull off."

Forkle certainly gave Sophie some incredible skills.

Page 293:  Something felt familiar, a shadow of an idea, not formed enough to make sense.  She poured through her memories, scrounging for the clue she was missing.  The pieces clicked.  "Elementine."

A memory no doubt planted in Sophie's brain by Forkle.

Page 312:  "I was thinking how strange it is that you don't know the name of one of our most common trees—and yet you knew the name and location of a star only a handful of us have ever heard of, and only the Councillors know how to find."

Mr. Forkle just about has to be a Councillor.  He knows their secrets.

Fintan is a mystery to me.  During this third reading of the books, I paid very close attention to every mention of Fintan.

Page 387:  Alden nodded.  "Because of Everblaze.  I've never really understood the concept, but apparently there's a way to sense cosmic energy in the atmosphere, and if you pull enough of the force together, it will spark Everblaze.  Fintan called it the 'fire of the sun on the Earth.'  He was the only Pyrokinetic who managed to ignite it and live."

Page 469:  "Maybe that's what the Black Swan wanted all along.  If you're right—and they're working against these other rebels, who seem to want to destroy the human race—then perhaps they thought it would be wise to have someone who cared about humans on their side."

Gethen is a Washer and tried to erase Sophie's memory during the time that she was kidnapped.  He couldn't get past her blocking.

The new names of Sophie's human family are Connor, Kate, and Natalie Freeman.  "Connor Kate Natalie Freeman" is an anagram for "one Forkle at a main entrance" which I believe refers to Leto in the Silver Tower.

Fintan was falsely accused and imprisoned for the fires.  I can see why he's resentful and spirals out of control.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Late November eBay and Etsy Stores Update

This weekend I listed some books on eBay and Etsy.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

On eBay, I listed Christopher Pike books and Nancy Drew German and Icelandic editions, plus some other assorted books.  On Etsy, I listed some Judy Bolton and Nancy Drew books.  

My books are in a state of disorganization again.  This photo shows some of my eBay books with most of the books I just listed laying scattered around.

If I can get some books to sell, then I will straighten up.

What's interesting is that since I reopened in October, I've had 12 transactions on Etsy and 14 transactions on eBay.  I do consider the sales rate to be low on both sites, but it's much worse on eBay.  My sales rate on eBay should be a good bit higher since I have more listings on eBay and eBay has higher traffic.  This just isn't a great time to be selling.

I reduced the prices of over 100 books on eBay and around 40 books on Etsy.  I also removed some listings and placed those books in a few bulk lots.  

I have quit buying books since I don't want the books to pile up.  I decided not to purchase several good bulk lots that I normally would have purchased.

Earlier today I wanted to list some more books.  The trouble is that most of my unlisted extras are duplicates of what I have up for sale.  Some books need to sell before I can list those unlisted extras.  So, I'm at a stalemate.

I then suddenly remembered the Trixie Belden Goldencraft books that I decided to remove from my collection.  I had forgotten about them because they weren't visible.  I realized that I had boxed them and some other books up.  I couldn't remember what else I boxed up.  I went out to the garage to check.

Ah, yes.  I have a bunch of Nancy Drew Flashlight library editions and Econo-Clad library editions that I need to get listed in addition to the Trixie Belden Goldencraft books.

On the Trixie Belden Goldencraft books, I will not be selling them at low prices.  That was a very difficult set to build, and the books were not inexpensive.  They will go up at fixed prices and at whatever I decide is fair.  The price is usually determined by what I paid for the book plus what my eBay fees will be.  

I expect I will work on listing all of the library editions in the next few days.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Shannon Messenger on a Character's Death in Keeper of the Lost Cities

I kept the character's name out of the title so as not to potentially spoil those who haven't read the series.  If you've read all of my posts, then you know that this character's death was what sent me on a search for clues.  I then became obsessed with this series. 

Shannon Messenger apparently addressed this character's death in an interview.  According to fans who saw the interview, she stated that this dead character is definitely not coming back.  And yet, I feel that Shannon has placed clues throughout the books that point to this character being very much alive.  Am I right, or should I believe the interview?

This situation reminded me of what happened shortly after the release of the book Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in 2000.  J.K. Rowling addressed fan speculation about Snape.

From My Thoughts on My Rereading of Harry Potter:

Sometime after book 4 was published, I joined a Yahoo! group that was devoted solely to discussion of which side Snape was on.  I checked that group often, reading the new messages each day.  I was enthralled.  I was utterly fascinated with Snape.  I just knew that he was somehow torn between the two sides.  I knew it.

At some point after I devoted so much time to reading the discussions about Snape, J.K. Rowling made a statement that caused me to lose much of my interest in the series.  I don't know whether this statement was in an article or in a filmed interview.  I also don't remember the exact words.  All I can do is paraphrase what I recall hearing over 15 years ago.

J.K. Rowling said something like this:  "I am shocked that people think Snape is good.  He is clearly evil!"  I'm sure those aren't the actual words, but that is the meaning of whatever she said.  It was like a punch in the gut.  Why bother reading the rest of the books?

This serves as an example of when an author should not say anything at all.  Snape is a conflicted character.  He is a bully and just a horrible person to be around.  It is revealed in the final book that Snape indeed was playing both sides and that he was helping Harry, even though he treated Harry in the worst way possible.


Rowling deliberately misled fans when she should have not said anything at all.  Her statement about Snape truly did spoil my reading of the final books in the series when I first read them in the 2000s.  My enjoyment of books 6 and 7 was not what it should have been when I first read them years ago.  I was quite nettled when I reached the Snape reveal in book 7 and saw how Rowling had misled us.  Grrr.  It just spoiled the whole thing for me.

That's why I went 13 years before reading the books again.  I have been annoyed about Rowling's Snape quote this entire time.

Before I continue, I want to point out that what especially annoyed me about J.K. Rowling's Snape comment was how she said it.  The statement made it seem like she thought we were idiots for thinking that Snape might be good.  I understand that she was trying to throw people off, but the way she said it was insulting.  The statement was also so definitive that it left no doubt (so I thought), which disappointed me.  

I was annoyed because J.K. Rowling had ruined my fun.  

I am no longer naive about book authors like I was back in 2000.  Since Shannon Messenger has addressed the fan speculation about a certain character's death, I wanted to know exactly what she said.  I believe the character is alive, regardless of what she has said.  I haven't forgotten what J.K. Rowling did, so I know I can't believe what an author says about possible spoilers.

This post contains MAJOR SERIES SPOILERS.  Stop reading NOW if you have not already read all of the books including #8.5 and #9.


Please visit this page for links to my previous posts.

Keeper of the Lost Cities Summaries, Reviews, and Theories

The videos linked in this post are cued to the beginning of the portions that I have quoted.

Shannon Messenger Nightfall Book Signing 2017

One of the things that an author does, if you really want to think about it this way, is we kind of deceive our readers.  I mean, obviously, there's certain things that we want you guys to, when you get to that moment, you're thinking, "I knew it!"  But we also strive really hard for the moments where you're like, "Wow, I did not see that coming!"  So we have to kind of trick you guys and make you think we're going to curve one way and then accidentally curve the other way and throw you all off your game.  

Shannon admits here that she misleads her readers.  Of course she does!  That's been apparent to me all along ever since Kenric died in the Everblaze without a proper description of what really happened and without any sign of a body.  It was too vague and didn't sit right with me.

Kenric is such a great character.  He wouldn't be wasted that way. 

The people who are most active in online discussions apparently believe that Kenric is dead for sure.  They also believe that Kenric isn't Sophie's father because Mr. Forkle says that Kenric isn't. 

I read one comment where a fan pointed out that Mr. Forkle wouldn't lie about Kenric being Sophie's father because Kenric is dead.  What that fan meant is that since Kenric is dead, then the Council couldn't punish him for being Sophie's father.  Therefore, Mr. Forkle would have no reason to hide Kenric's identity as Sophie's father since Kenric is dead.  But that's the problem:  Kenric isn't dead.  Forkle must lie about Kenric being involved because Kenric is in fact alive.   

Now let's get to the important quote where Shannon mentions Kenric's death.

Shannon Messenger Lodestar Interview

There is one character that I won't say who, but they... they didn't make it through Book 3.  And I get a lot of emails from kids like, "Are you gonna bring them back?"  Not really the plan just because if they were still alive, they would basically be the worst person ever for letting everybody mourn for them.  Because it's a world where death is very, very rare and very devastating so it's... Usually if I've said that someone we like dies, they're probably dead.  Because otherwise—they're coming back—they're gonna be a villain because you have to be villainous to fake your death in that kind of world.

All right!  Let's dissect this.  I italicized two phrases that are especially important.  She says that she's been asked if she's bringing Kenric back.  Her response begins with "not really the plan."  That's not a definitive answer.  "Not really the plan" means that it could be the plan.  Who knows?

Shannon also says that "they're probably dead."  She uses "probably" in front of dead which leaves doubt as to whether Kenric is dead.  She also begins that sentence with "usually," so she's saying "usually ... they're probably dead."  Uh, that sounds pretty indefinite if you ask me.

Most importantly, Shannon says that she has a "spoiler-free" policy.  She won't spoil the books, not for anything.  Therefore, we cannot believe what she says about Kenric.  He might or might not be alive.  She's not going to say.  And I would not want her to say for sure.  It's more fun trying to figure it out.

As I have mentioned before, the name "Kenric Elgar Fathdon" is an anagram for "Forkle grin and teach" which translates to "Forkle, Kenric, and Leto."  My conclusion is that Kenric is alive and that he's Forkle/Leto.

For a time, it mystified me that the anagram was in Book 3 when the series is much longer than that.  Shannon at first only had 3 books purchased by Simon & Schuster.  She got a fourth book and didn't know if it would go any farther.  Since she believed that her series would be much shorter, it's logical that she would place a major clue in one of the first few books.  

I suppose it's fortunate that nearly all fans have failed to notice the anagram for Kenric's full name, so the secret remains safe.  I keep mentioning it, but the fan base isn't reading this blog. 

I'm fine with the fan base not reading this blog, since I'm pretty sure that they'd tell me that I'm wrong.  I could be, but I don't think so.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Fan Comments on Kenric and Oralie - Keeper of the Lost Cities

Do not read unless you have read all of the books including #8.5 and #9.  This post contains MAJOR SERIES SPOILERS. 


It's been difficult finding good discussion about Kenric online.  I found comments by two fans that I really enjoyed reading.

Here's someone who does think that Kenric is Mr. Forkle.

Is Kenric one of Forkle's identities?

It was probably getting hard for the Forkle's to have Kenric, Mr. Forkle, and Magnate Leto, and Sir Astin all in the Lost Cities at the same time.  They probably [killed] Kenric off because he always had so much to do. I mentioned this the other day and someone asked if he would do that to Oralie.  For the greater good of the Lost Cities.  Yes.  I believe he would.

Yes, I absolutely agree with this.  

Here's a different take on the Forgotten Secrets, and I love it!

Opinion on the Kenric and Oralie Enemies to Lovers in Stellarlune

...when I was rereading those moments when they were finding out all the hidden history between Kenric and Oralie I was EATING IT UP.

The enemies to lovers wasn’t even cheap or poorly written.  It was GOOD.  Like, Oralie was clearly this slightly naive, kind of hotheaded, goody-two-shoes type young woman, it was clear that Kenric just didn’t like her attitude.  It doesn’t get more refreshingly straightforward than that. Kenric is the type to have strong beliefs on how things should be, and Oralie intruded on these, so when he was annoyed by her it was so believable.  The whole thing felt natural and it didn’t feel like something added in at this point in the story to try and deepen the lore, it felt like it actually did happen and it truly was just revealed to us.

and also

When Kenric went to Mr. Aria the Matchmaker (forgot his first name oops) and we found out Kenric and Oralie were #1 on each others lists, after reading all the build-up for the whole chapter where Shannon made it clear purely through showing and not telling that Kenric had that burning desire in his heart for Oralie and he was willing to break the LAW to just clear this one little thing that really means nothing but somehow meant everything to HIM????

*gasps* OH MY-

I literally threw my book at the WALL 

I have a different take on the scene with the matchmaker, but I adore this viewpoint as well.  My favorite part of Stellarlune is all of the Forgotten Secrets.  We learn so much from them!

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Shannon Messenger Interviews - Keeper of the Lost Cities

I decided to watch as many Shannon Messenger interviews as I could find so that I could hear certain comments for myself.  This post is spoiler free, so it's safe to read if you haven't read through the entire set.

Shannon mentions that the Keeper series is "X-Men meets Lord of the Rings."  Legalos was the inspiration for Sophie.  She wanted a girl to be the protagonist, and she also wanted a large cast of characters so that the protagonist is not the only one saving the day.

Shannon originally planned to be a screenwriter, and her training in movies shaped how she writes.  This is why the Keeper books are so dialogue heavy.  In the later books, I feel that the conversations are way too long, but I concede that children likely really enjoy the endless teasing and banter.  For adult readers, it's a bit much, but the series is aimed at children.  

Shannon Messenger Interview with James Ponti

Shannon had an initial three-book deal, and the series was not a runaway success.  As Shannon finished book 3, she asked whether she needed to wrap it up or whether she could get a fourth book.  She was granted a fourth book but was told that was it.  She said that the same thing happened with book 5, and then the series began to gain momentum, reaching the New York Times bestsellers list.  After that, it became her decision on how many books to write.

Shannon Messenger 2017 Book Signing

At the beginning of the above video, Shannon says that she had trouble selling the first Keeper book.  She was unknown, and middle-grade fantasy is hard to break into.  The protagonist is almost always a boy.  Also, Shannon was told that her book was too long.

Interview with Adrian Beck

Once I had an agent and we went to shop the series, I ... told her that I now could see this being 8, 9, 10 books.  She was just like, "Okay, so we need to talk about the realities of publishing.  You're a debut author.  No one's going to buy 10 books from you."  It would have been nice, but I got very lucky that they were even willing to buy 3 and ... we had to wait and see from there how the series would do. 

First, I was a little bit like ... how am I going to do that.  And then I realized that I had a lot of villains and so the easiest way ... was to just hold back on the villains until I knew how many books I was going to get to have.  So that’s why the first three ... only have a couple of villains and then we get a couple more in the next, [books] 4 and 5, and then definitely get some more in [books] 6, 7, and 8.  And so, everyone sort of wondered like had I just been making up new villains to stretch out the series?  And it's like, no, I was planning those all along...  

Publishing's a business, you know, and so we had to kind of wait and then when they bought Book 5, [I was told that] many series are 5 books [total].  And I just got very lucky that Book 5 was the one that hit the New York Times list and the series had really started to get legs under it and so they said, "You can keep going."  And so then we had ... book 6 and 7, ... then they were just like however many you want.  And so now I’m in this really nice position where I’m getting to let the story sort of dictate how many books there will be instead of having to arbitrarily say, "There will be this many."  

This explains we have no inkling about certain villains and plot points during the first few books.  Shannon didn't know if she would be able to tell the complete story.  By necessity, the plot had to be rolled out gradually.

In this next video, it's fun to witness the audience's reaction when Shannon says that she knows who Sophie's biological parents are.  Of course she does!

Shannon Messenger Tour

Just like I know who Sophie's biological parents are.  You guys think I could be this many books into the series and not know that and just... pick randomly?!  I have to know these things...  I just don't have to tell them to you guys.

This last quote is about the ending of #9 Stellarlune.  The quote is vague and doesn't spoil anything, but if you're like me, then you don't want to see even vague commentary about a book that you haven't read yet.  If this describes you, then stop reading this post now.

Stellarlune Interview

The ... reveal that happens at the end of this is something that is integral to the series.  It's one of the darkest secrets of the Lost Cities, and it’s something that I always knew existed and I always wanted to address but I just wasn’t sure if I was going to get there.  And so now that the series has become as successful as it is, I get to have the number of books that the series needs to really tell the full story.  It was like, okay, we're doing this then ...  It’s just this moment that you know in many ways, the journey getting there has been full of surprises ...  I also, I fully knew that if I could—if I had my way—that this is where we were going to and so it was really cool to finally write that moment where ... the veils drop and we get this reveal and ... I hope they like this! 

I am so intrigued by this!  This development will undoubtedly change everything.  It's neat that it was planned all along and kept from us until Shannon knew that she would have enough books to tell the full story.  

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Fan Theories on Keeper of the Lost Cities

I read through the Keeper of the Lost Cities series twice from March 13 through May 22.  I continued thinking about the books throughout the summer and perused online discussions periodically.  In August, I decided that I should read the books again, for the third time.  For my third reading, I had a specific focus that was different from my previous one.

I have created a page with handy links to all of my posts on this series.

View them here:  Keeper of the Lost Cities Summaries, Reviews, and Theories

This post and upcoming ones contain my thoughts on my third reading of the books.

Do not read further unless you have read all of the books including #8.5 and #9.  This post contains MAJOR SERIES SPOILERS. 


I continue to wonder about Fintan and the scene where he and Kenric appear to die.  We know that Fintan faked his death, and Kenric had to have faked his death as well, even though that hasn't yet been revealed in the books.

Quite a few people speculate that Kenric is alive.  This theory gets shut down fast each time someone mentions it.  The fans who say Kenric is dead dominate any discussion where anyone thinks otherwise.  My frustration with the lack of discussion about Kenric's uncertain death is what led me to read through the set three times.  Since I can't find much discussion supporting what I believe, I have had to search the books for evidence.

Fans think that Kenric must be dead because it's unthinkable that he would hurt Oralie by faking his death.  They feel that Oralie would be devastated if she were to learn that Kenric faked his death.  In one brief discussion, a fan did pose the thought that Oralie would be happy to learn that Kenric is alive.  I'm not sure why no one else thinks of that.  

Yes, Oralie would be very angry with Kenric at first if he were to reappear alive, having faked his death.  However, Kenric would no doubt have a good explanation for his actions, which would result in Oralie forgiving him.  Ultimately, she'd be happy to have her Kenric back.

Some fans also believe that Shannon Messenger hasn't killed off enough characters.  This is considered a weakness on her part.  These fans are very against the idea that Kenric could be resurrected at some point.  I guess I have trouble understanding why it's so important for enough characters to be killed by a children's book author.  The series is, after all, a children's book series.

Besides, the elves are said to have no crime and very few deaths.  It seems to me that having few deaths fits Messenger's near-ideal elf world perfectly.

I believe Kenric is alive, because of all the clues.  His name is Kenric Elgar Fathdon, which is an anagram with all letters used exactly once and none left over:  "Forkle grin and teach."

That's rather specific.  "Grin" refers to Kenric, and "teach" refers to Leto.  The phrase translates to "Forkle, Kenric, and Leto."  Kenric is Forkle and Leto.  If you've read my past posts, then you know that I'm 100% convinced of this and that I've found plenty of evidence to support my belief, in addition to the anagram.

When I can use every letter in a name exactly once and create a phrase that is relevant to the series plot, then I believe that the name was crafted to form that specific anagram.  There is no way this means anything other than what it appears to mean.

These are the anagrams I've found.

Kenric Elgar Fathdon is "Forkle grin and teach."
Connor Kate Natalie Freeman is "one Forkle at a main entrance."
Ethan Benedict Wright II is "grin teach tweed inhibit." 
Eleanor Olivia Wright is "love Oralie with a grin." 

These are very simple anagrams that are much easier to spot.

Kerlof is "Forkle."
Tiergan is "Granite."

I also believe that Kenric is Sophie's biological father.  There are just too many clues pointing to this for anything else to be true.  I have detailed the clues in one of my past posts.  This is another theory that has been mentioned online quite a few times and is also shut down fast with little dissent. 

People think Kenric isn't Sophie's father because Forkle has told Sophie that Kenric isn't her father.  But Forkle lies. 

Book 8.5, Page 375   [Mr. Forkle] lies sometimes.  Maybe all the time.  Who knows?

We've been told multiple times that Mr. Forkle is a liar.  Forkle has admitted that he's lied to Sophie about important information.  Forkle can be quite convincing, but I think he's lying or tricking Sophie with what he says.  If Forkle is Kenric, then he's going to lie about Kenric being Sophie's father. 

Book 4, 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."  Keefe grabbed Mr. Forkle's wrist.  "He's telling the truth.  And... he actually feels kinda bad about it."

That just means that the Mr. Forkle speaking in that scene isn't Sophie's father.  His twin could be.

Book 4, 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.

This statement is part lie and part clever wording. 

Forkle says that Sophie's parents had "no connection."  This part is an outright lie.  But then, it also could be clever wording.  What is meant by the word "connection"?  Kenric and Oralie certainly knew each other, so they were connected.  However, a synonym of connection is relationship.  A relationship could just be friends, which Kenric and Oralie were.  A relationship could be marriage or by blood, which they were not.  Kenric and Oralie had a connection, but then they didn't.

A phrase can be twisted to mean the opposite of what it means at face value.  Mr. Forkle is speaking in a clever fashion that is deliberately misleading.

Forkle says that there was "no unrequited love."  "Unrequited love" is when one loves another person who doesn't return the feelings.  Kenric and Oralie both loved each other; the feelings weren't unrequited.  They simply didn't act on their feelings.  "No unrequited love" is a true statement about Kenric and Oralie.

Forkle says that they weren't friends.  At first, Kenric and Oralie were not friends.  This is revealed in the Forgotten Secrets of Book 9.  Forkle's statement about them not being friends was true at one point in time.  They were friends later.  But then, one could say that they secretly loved each other, so they weren't friends.  They were lovers who weren't acting on their feelings.

Book 4, 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."

I believe that Leto's statement is technically true but highly misleading.  I finally worked out what he is doing.  Councillor Kenric was not involved with Project Moonlark; rather, Mr. Forkle was involved.  Kenric's Black Swan activities were, technically speaking, completed as Mr. Forkle.  So, it is true to say that Kenric wasn't involved.

Also, Leto is tracing Sophie's scar as he says that Kenric wasn't involved.  It's like he's talking about the scar, which was caused by Forkle.  Kenric didn't cause the scar, not technically.

I put little weight on Leto's statements, since I believe he is twisting his words to mislead Sophie.

A lot of fans don't think Kenric is Forkle because they doubt he would have hurt Oralie by faking his death.  I even believed that at first, which threw me off.  However...

If Kenric is Forkle, then Kenric is a pair of identical twins.  This means that Oralie was in love with a pair of twins, which is an impossible situation.  Kenric (the two of them) could never be with Oralie, so I can see why Kenric would fake his death instead of resigning from the Council.  If Kenric had resigned, then Oralie might have resigned as well.  How would the twins have dealt with that?  

I do go back and forth on whether one twin or both were in love with Oralie. 

1.  When I first wrote this post, my thinking was that one twin loved Oralie.  The other twin was in the Forgotten Secrets where he wasn't being very nice to Oralie.  I thought the deceased twin is the one who did not love Oralie, and the one still alive does.

2.  By the time I revised this post, my mind had changed.  I now think that both twins loved Oralie.  They had to feel the same way about everything because of their shared identity.  In the Forgotten Secret from Oralie's cache, Oralie tells Kenric (page 533, Book 8.5), "You can't hide your feelings, Kenric.  They're thereevery time I'm around you."  Both twins must have loved Oralie, or she would have detected a difference. 

I assume that the living twin is Sophie's father.

A very popular fan theory is that Elwin is Sophie's father.  This belief comes from one statement made by Elwin.  

Book 8, page 510:  So she told Livvy and Elwin, "He won't tell me who my biological parents are.  Even though I deserve to know."  "You definitely deserve to know that," Elwin agreed, narrowing his eyes at Mr. Forkle.

Fans have decided that Elwin's statement means that Elwin is her father.  However, Elwin was simply stating his belief that Sophie has a right to know, and most anyone would agree.  If Elwin were the male donor to Project Moonlark, he'd be leery of the consequences, so I doubt that he would have made that statement if he were Sophie's father.

A lot of fans think that either Brant, Gethen, or Fintan is Sophie's biological father.  If either Brant or Gethen were Sophie's father, it would just be gross.  Brant and Gethen are both murderers with no redeeming qualities. 

Fintan, at least, has some redeeming qualities, even though he's one of the villains.  I feel kind of sorry for Fintan with how he was forced not to use his talent.  Even so, I very much doubt that Fintan is Sophie's father.  Fintan is not where the clues lead.  They lead to Kenric.

Going back to how I began this post, I believe that Fintan is very important and in ways that have not been revealed.  Fintan is connected to Elysian somehow.  The butterflies mentioned in the Forgotten Secrets of Book 9 are in Fintan's memories in Book 2.  As I reread the books, I checked every mention of Fintan very carefully to see if I could figure anything out.

Fintan is always saying, "Something's missing."  Indeed.  Readers are missing information about Fintan, which is why we can't quite make sense of his plans.

Tiergan is also of deep interest to me.  I believe his allegiance is exactly what we believe it to be, which is with the Black Swan, but there is something from his past that has been withheld from us.  I wonder what it is and whether it is something very important.  I paid close attention to Tiergan as I reread the books.

Fans really dislike Oralie.  This is because of Sophie's attitude towards Oralie in the later books.  Sophie is highly resentful that Oralie kept secrets, not telling her that she was Sophie's mother.  Sophie is also resentful that Oralie is a Councillor, which means that Sophie can never reveal her mother's identity and can never be matched.

Sophie's attitude is understandable but a bit irrational.  After all, Sophie would not exist if her biological parents hadn't donated to Project Moonlark.

I think Sophie has such intense anger towards Oralie for reasons that she hasn't articulated.  Sophie says that it's because of the secrets and because of her unmatchable status.  I believe that the real reason for the anger is because of how very much Sophie has always liked Oralie.  If Sophie had been raised by Oralie, then she would have quite naturally had a very close relationship with her.  Sophie feels cheated.  Sure, she's had other great parents, but she can never experience what it would have been like to have been raised by her biological parents.

Additional posts will follow.  I will include a brief synopsis of each book.  I am having trouble remembering when certain events happened, so I want to get that information in this blog.  I also will include any additional thoughts that I have.

Friday, November 10, 2023

More Keeper of the Lost Cities Posts + a Brief Reading Update

I am on the cusp of scheduling my upcoming Keeper of the Lost Cities posts for publication.  The posts were not written in the order that they will publish.  Some of what will publish first was written last. 

This means that some of my commentary on certain theories might be contradictory or circular in argument.  I have decided not to edit too much and to let what I wrote stand for itself.  For some theories, I continue to go back and forth on what I think, so I will contradict myself at times.  I can't help that.

In preparation for this latest round of posts, I put together a page listing all of my posts on the Keeper of the Lost Cities series.  I have split the posts into two lists for posts that are spoiler-free and for posts that contain spoilers.  The posts with spoilers contain major late series spoilers and should be avoided until all books in the series have been read.  Spoiler-free posts are fine for everyone to read.

Keeper of the Lost Cities Summaries, Reviews, and Theories

I set up a Tumblr account a few months back.  I'm finally using it for some of my Keeper of the Lost Cities content.  

Series Books for Girls on Tumblr

The total number of different books I've read in 2023 is pretty low at 42 books.  If I'm allowed to count the Keeper books multiple times, then that will raise my total to 62 books, which sounds better.  Since I usually don't read books multiple times during the same year, I think I will go with the number of different books, placing my total so far at 42.

I hope that I can get myself to read some other books in the coming weeks, once I finish reading Keeper #9 Stellarlune for the third time.  

It does occur to me to wonder how many books I read last year.  Oh!  I only read 47 books in 2022.

Books Read and Media Consumed in 2022

Gosh, that means that I've read more this year than last year.  I have read the equivalent of 62 books, although only 42 different books.  Hmm.

It seems like I could motivate myself into beating last year's total by reading just six more books.  I should try!  I'm not sure what I would read. 

Maybe I can find something that will appeal to me.  I will attempt to read at least six more books.  If I do it, then great.  If not, then at least I will finish 2023 having read the equivalent of more books than I did in 2022.