Wednesday, December 13, 2023

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

Back in June, I published a post on the Forgotten Secrets of Book #9 Stellarlune.  In that post, I wrote the following about the Forgotten Secrets:

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

I read the Forgotten Secrets again during my third reading of the Keeper series and then once again as I read Stellarlune for the third time.  More has become clear to me.

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


This post should be read first:  Keeper of the Lost Cities #9 The Forgotten Secrets.  In it, I mention a lot of the content of the Forgotten Secrets.  I will not rehash most of that here.  This new post covers my additional thoughts only, so it's important that my previous post be read first.

It's also important to understand that I believe that Kenric is alive, that he is Sophie's biological father, and that he is Mr. Forkle.  Read through my past posts for the reasons why I believe this.

Keeper of the Lost Cities Summaries, Reviews, and Theories

I believe that the revealing of Kenric's Forgotten Secrets serves two primary purposes:  to give the reader clues that Kenric is Forkle and to give information about Project Moonlark.  We have either one or two books left in the series.  The big reveal about Sophie's biological father and Mr. Forkle's true identity must be coming soon, probably in the very next book.  These Forgotten Secrets are setting up for the reveal.

I believe that everything that happens during each Forgotten Secret is important with no filler information.  These books have lots of filler during the extremely lengthy conversations between Sophie and her friends.  But scenes like the Forgotten Secrets are rather short with no filler.  Everything matters; we just don't necessarily know why.

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

I mentioned in my previous post how Kenric counts the seconds at one point during this memory.  Counting the seconds is one of Sophie's two odd habits.  She pulls out her eyelashes like her mother, Oralie, and she counts the seconds like her father, Kenric.

Page 196:   "King Dimitar brought it to our attention.  He claimed we've been allowing the humans to expand into this land, even though it's supposed to be a Neutral Territory—and unfortunately he's right."

Kenric points out the cause of the pollution, a nearby human city that cannot be relocated.  He also mentions that Dimitar said that he will consider the Neutral Territories to be up for grabs if the humans are allowed to remain.  Bronte tells Kenric that he has no idea what they might be dealing with, and Bronte refuses to explain.  However, Bronte acts like the ogres are to blame at first.  Later, he says that it isn't what he feared and that the pollution was caused by human chemicals.

Page 205:   "There is a lot to monitor, Kenric.  We can only keep track of so much."  "Then we should ask for more help."  "From whom?"  Kenric dragged a hand down his face, leaving streaks of mud.  "I... have no idea."

Interesting.  Kenric starts to give a response, then he changes his response to "have no idea."  What was he going to say?  I think he was close to making an accidental slip, like perhaps a reference to his Black Swan activities.

Forgotten Secret #1 is the only secret that was placed in Kenric's cache by someone else.  Bronte kept the secret about the ogre plague to himself and washed Kenric's memory of it.

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

As I wrote previously, this is a huge clue about Project Moonlark.  Kenric needs to make sure that Oralie is his match so that the donors for Project Moonlark are number one matches.

Page 210:   "What if I told you that neither of us was going to remember the rest of this conversation?" Kenric asked quietly.  "Everything from this moment on will be erased."  Behnam's eyebrows lifted.  "Then what's the point?"  "This way I'll be able to remember that I asked.  But I won't know whether or not you answered.  That'll be enough for me to finally let this go—while also ensuring that there's no proof of you bending any rules.  It'll be almost as if it never happened."

I mentioned previously how this makes no sense and that Kenric must be lying.  This is what he says to Prentice in Forgotten Secret #5.

Page 256:   "In case you're wondering, I'll be wiping this conversation from my mind the second you leave.  That way it'll be as if it never happened

Page 257:   "As I said, I won't even remember that I approached you about this."

Kenric tells Behnam that he'll remember he asked.  He tells Prentice that he won't remember.  So which is it?  This depends upon where Kenric begins the memory washing for each memory, but here's the problem:  Kenric knew what he was going to do in both cases; he didn't wash his memory of when he set up the meeting with Prentice or when he walked in to ask Behnam about his match.  In both cases, Kenric would know that he asked.  He's lying when he tells Prentice that he wouldn't remember.

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

This secret is the one that fascinates me the most since it provides a full conversation between Kenric and Oralie in an everyday situation.  Oralie has stalked into Kenric's readying room to complain about him missing most of her special first-year-as-Councillor celebration.  The fact that she's so bothered shows that she has deeper feelings for Kenric than she realizes.  

She complains that Kenric left during dinner after the first course.  She thinks he couldn't stand to watch her celebration.  Kenric tells her that he had an upset stomach, contacted Elwin, and then returned.  Oralie places her hand on his and replies, "You're a better liar than most.  But I can still tell."

So, we know that Kenric is lying about why he left.  He certainly didn't go to see Elwin.  The first few times I read through this scene, I took the scene at face value and didn't think anything of it.  I just figured that Kenric left because he didn't want to be at the dinner.  But then, that really doesn't make sense. 

A moment later, Oralie complains that Kenric has bad taste "in everything."

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

Kenric's last statement implies that he does care about Oralie, and she has no idea.  If Kenric does care about Oralie, then he didn't leave the dinner to get away from her celebration.  What would he have been doing, and why did Shannon make a point of mentioning it?

I think Kenric was switching with his twin.  He'd have to disappear at times in order to make the switch.  This must be why Kenric left the dinner.

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

My take on Kenric's remark this time is that he correctly understands that Oralie puts on an innocent act.  She pretends to have a fragile voice, and she dresses in pink ruffles so that people think she's just a helpless beauty.  Kenric is very annoyed by Oralie's behavior, and at this early stage in their acquaintance, he has no idea why she acts like this.

Kenric and Oralie's conversation then switches to why Kenric voted against Oralie becoming a Councillor.  Before Kenric answers Oralie, he "[takes] a step back."  I suspect that Kenric steps back so that Oralie can't detect a lie.  Kenric then tells her that she rushes through her assignments in order to garner attention and that is why he voted against her.  Oralie is deeply offended.

Instead, Kenric probably voted against Oralie being a Councillor because he already cared about her.  That is, the twins already cared about her.  They saw her as a complication, and they had enough problems dealing with their shared identity and keeping that secret.  They didn't need a potential love interest to be a Councillor, especially since their shared identity prevented either of them from ever marrying.  

I also suspect that Kenric is openly hostile towards Oralie as a means to mask his true feelings.  By angering Oralie, he keeps her from realizing how he feels.

Lady Fayina is also mentioned during this conversation.  She apparently fell off a cliff, and Oralie closed the case so that she could be declared dead.  Who was Lady Fayina?  Is she really dead?  Could she be of some importance?

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

This secret provides some information regarding Elysian and Fintan's Noxflares.  I spot several vague statements that are likely hints about Elysian. 

Page 228:   "But some of us are still willing to wait for the opportune moment."  He smiled with the last words, as if he'd made a private joke...

This tells me that Fintan is waiting for a certain moment in order to unleash his scheme, whatever that is.

Fintan accuses Kenric of planning to give him one of his "infamous heart-to-hearts."  Interestingly, Oralie tells Sophie that she doesn't know what Fintan means.  Strange.  

We learn that Noxflares are fire-resistant.  

I continue to suspect that Fintan helped Kenric fake his death.  I believe some possible clues are in this memory.  

Page 234:   Fintan shook his head.  "These aren't hungry flames.  They'll stay right where I want them.  That's why I chose them."

What if the fire that Fintan sparked in Oblivimyre was one that Fintan could control and keep where he wanted it to burn?  What if the fire was designed to burn the tower and buildings of Eternalia and nothing else?  Is that why everyone was able to leap away?

Page 235:   "As far as I'm concerned," Kenric continued, "you can burn your whole house down if you want to—as long as no one gets hurt."

Hmm...  If Kenric didn't die in the Everblaze, then all that happened is that the tower burned down with nobody getting hurt.

Fintan offers Kenric a deal.  He will answer Kenric's question if Kenric will do something for him.  It seems that Kenric doesn't take the deal.  But then... most of the rest of the memory is unintelligible.  We know that Kenric did probe Fintan's mind, but only because of the other part of this memory that is detailed in Book 8.5.

What happened when Kenric probed Fintan's mind?  Could Kenric have made a deal with Fintan?  My thinking is that Fintan and Kenric had some kind of agreement that ultimately resulted in Fintan and Kenric faking their deaths at Oblivimyre.

The one thing I've struggled with is that Fintan would know that Kenric is alive.  I've since realized that since Kenric is a Washer, he would have simply erased Fintan's memory right after they escaped the flames.

A popular fan theory is that Kenric is with the Neverseen, and this would explain how Kenric disappears with Fintan.  The problem is all of the clues, particularly the anagram in Kenric's full name, that point to Kenric being Forkle, which is why I stick with my explanation.  Forkle is definitely not with the Neverseen.  I mean, I suppose he could be with the Neverseen and the Black Swan, but I think that's too much of a stretch. 

The rest of Forgotten Secret #4 (from Book 8.5):  Kenric reveals to Oralie that he knows about Project Moonlark

This portion of Forgotten Secret #4 turned quite a few readers against Kenric.  Some of the content is Kenric teasing Oralie.  The other part is Kenric telling Oralie that he knows about Project Moonlark.  Actually, Kenric questions Oralie in a needling way that doesn't come across as very nice.  Some readers see it as abusive. 
I don't view it that way, because I know that something else is going on here. 


Book 8.5, Page 533:   Oralie closed her eyes, letting out a shaky breath.  "You can't hide your feelings, Kenric.  They're there—every time I'm around you."

From the above passage, we must assume that Kenric truly loves Oralie.  She'd know if he were insincere.  I believe that Kenric tells Oralie that he knows about her involvement just to get the information in the cache.  He needles her to get her to admit to her secrets.  He already knew that he was going to erase the memory because of the previous part with Fintan.  He decided to make more use of it by getting some Project Moonlark clues placed in Oralie's cache.  That's why he says what he does to Oralie.  He's not bullying her.  He's planting clues.

Book 8.5, Page 526:   "You breached his mind?  Why?"  Kenric backed away, resuming his pacing.  "The same reason I always breach someone's mind—but I didn't find the information that I was looking for, in case you're wondering."

Kenric backs away from Oralie.  He's probably lying and backs away so that Oralie can't detect the lie.  Something important happened between Kenric and Fintan during that mind breach.

Book 8.5, Page 529:   He looked pale when he nodded. "Some days I dream about walking away."  "You mean resigning?" Oralie clarified.  He hesitated before stepping closer.  "I've done my share for my people, Ora.  I'd have zero problem letting someone else take over.  But… I won't go unless you resign with me."  Everyone sucked in a breath:  Sophie, Oralie, Oralie's projection—even Kenric, as if he couldn't believe he'd just said that.  But he didn't take it back.

I've already mentioned that this passage indicates that Kenric did fake his death.  The part that jumps out at me now is where Oralie asks, "You mean resigning?"  Kenric then hesitates before answering.  He also doesn't specify whether he means resigning.  I don't think he was considering resigning.  He was planning to fake his death all along.  Even so, what Kenric does tell Oralie is true.  He simply says that he'd have "zero problem letting someone else take over."

It may also be significant that Kenric steps closer during the conversation.  This might be so that Oralie can read his emotions and know that what he says is true.  

Book 8.5, Page 533:   "And if that's why you have to stay, Ora, then I'm staying too."  He tucked one of her ringlets gently behind her ear.  "You're going to need all the allies you can get.  Especially since someday the Black Swan is going to bring their moonlark into play.  You know that, right?"

Kenric is telling the truth that he doesn't plan to resign.  What he's not saying is that he's going to fake his death.

Book 8.5, Page 531:   "That time when you were ill... I stayed by your side the whole night, just to be safe... You'd toss and turn and whisper something over and over.  Something that sounded... a lot like suldreen."

Ah, yes.  Kenric knows all about Project Moonlark.  I think back to Book 1.  When Sophie mentions how her human father called her "soybean," she wonders if there's an elven word that sounds like it.  Kenric says, "I can't think of what that would be."  Classic evasive Kenric/Forkle.

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

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

Sophie blinks several times when the memory begins, because she can't believe that she sees Prentice with Kenric.  I didn't see it as shocking at all when I first read this memory, just because I didn't understand.  In fact, it seemed odd to me that Prentice's name is even italicized.  That's how clueless I was. 

It took me several readings over a number of weeks to figure out that Prentice is being recruited as the Keeper of the Black Swan.

One aspect continued to bother me.  Kenric makes the request as himself.  If Prentice should accept, then Prentice would know that Councillor Kenric is in the Black Swan.  That seems like too big of a secret to entrust to anybody.  I believe that nobody in the Black Swan knows who Forkle really is. 

So something just didn't add up.  Recently, I put it all together when I read the memory yet again and noticed one passage that I hadn't thought about carefully during my previous readings.

Page 249:   Everyone assumed he'd used the Black Swan's code for imminent danger because he'd somehow uncovered the Lodestar symbol and feared the Neverseen would be coming after him.  But the explanation didn't totally make sense, as Prentice could've told someone what he'd learned—both to help prove his innocence and to make sure the information didn't get buried if he ended up in Exile.  Instead, he had kept everything to himself.  Almost as if he hadn't known who he could trust.

Ah-ha!  Kenric must have washed Prentice's memories of anyone involved in the Black Swan.  Prentice had no idea who had recruited him, and he likely didn't know the names of anyone involved in the order.  That's why he hadn't known who he could trust.  This all makes sense now!   

This next passage immediately follows the one quoted above.

Page 249:   And now Sophie was watching Prentice sit with Kenric in a secret library, about to discuss some sort of "big proposition."  "You okay?" Dex asked.  Sophie blinked, realizing he was staring at her—and that she was breathing very, very fast.  "Yeah, I'm just... trying to decide if I should tell Wylie and Prentice this story."

Sophie is beginning to hyperventilate as she thinks about this, then she lies to Dex about what she is thinking.  Sophie fears that Kenric is responsible for what happened to Prentice, which means that she is on the cusp of figuring out that Kenric recruited Prentice to be the Black Swan's Keeper.  This would then lead to her realizing that Kenric is Forkle.  She is just not quite there yet.

Page 257:   Instead he stepped closer and told Kenric, "No amount of talent will ever make me infallible."

I wonder...  Is this a clue as to why Prentice called swan song?  Did Prentice make a mistake that led to his capture?

Forgotten Secret #6:  Oralie and Kenric in Elysian

Page 262:   Kenric nodded.  "That was one of the details that helped me find this place.  Something had mentioned 'whispering rapids,' so when I found this river, I followed it here."  "And I'm assuming you won't tell me where you uncovered this information," Oralie's projection said.  "It's classified," Kenric agreed.

On this reading, my thought is that the "something" mentioned by Kenric is what he found when he probed Fintan's memory in Forgotten Secret #4.  There's also this:

Page 263:   "But see how they have red on their faces?  I found a mention about that, too—'butterflies kissed with red.' "  Dex chuckled  "Whoever wrote these descriptions was trying way too hard to sound deep and poetic."  Sophie nodded, wishing she had any idea who that could've been.

I think it could have been Fintan.  In Book 2, Sophie finds this in Prentice's memories:

Book 2, Page 239:   Glowing eyes peeked through bushes covered in blue ears, and butterflies with bright red lips whispered sounds like mush.

It's not quite the same description, but Fintan has been to Elysian, so he's a candidate for being Kenric's source.  

[Note from June 2024: Upon reading Book 2 again, I noticed that the memory from Book 2, Page 239 is from Prentice's mind.  Kenric could still have gotten the memory from Fintan as I stated above and then saved it in Prentice's mind, since Prentice was his Keeper.  It's also possible that Kenric saved his own memory of Elysian in Prentice's mind.]

Page 266:   "Why can't we see who it is?"  "I think they're wearing an addler," Dex told her.  The real Oralie groaned.  "You're probably right.  Which means it must be the Washer Kenric called to make sure I wouldn't remember any of this.  They often wear addlers to protect their identities."

I believe that the Washer is Kenric's twin.  He probably showed up as Astin or Leto, but he had to wear an addler so that Oralie wouldn't figure anything out.

Forgotten Secret #7: the map of Elysian

Kenric placed a map of Elysian in his cache.  Forkle placed a map of Elysian in Sophie's brain.  When Sophie sees Forgotten Secret #7, it triggers the memory of the map placed in her brain by Forkle.  This is such an interesting coincidence.

I want to go back to Forgotten Secret #4.  Both Oralie and Kenric are present for all of Forgotten Secret #4, but one part went in Kenric's cache and the other part in Oralie's cache. 

One part of Forgotten Secret #4 reveals Oralie's role in Project Moonlark, as in it reveals that Oralie is Sophie's mother.  Most of the secrets in Kenric and Oralie's caches pertain to the Black Swan and Project Moonlark in some fashion.  Kenric placed the part pertaining specifically to Oralie in Oralie's cache.  Everything else went in Kenric's cache.

If Oralie's cache provides evidence that Oralie is Sophie's mother, then we can conclude that Kenric's cache provides evidence that Kenric is Sophie's father/Forkle.  In short:

FS #1 Kenric counts the seconds, an odd habit that he shares with Sophie.
FS #2 Kenric verifies that he and Oralie are number one matches for Project Moonlark.
FS #3 Kenric is a good liar like Forkle and disappeared during a dinner, probably to change places with his secret twin.
FS #5 Kenric recruits Prentice to be Keeper of the Black Swan.
FS #7 Kenric had the same map that Forkle implanted in Sophie's brain.

These coincidences plus everything else in these memories all add up to the same conclusion.

No comments: