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The Emperor's Agent

The paperback is out, the ebook has been out a few weeks -- let's talk about it! What did you guys think of The Emperor's Agent? I'd love to hear from you.

Also, if you've read it and have a second, please leave an Amazon review even if it's two lines long. The number of Amazon reviews trips all kinds of promotions and banners, and helps the book reach more readers.

So! Elza! Corbineau! Michel! The Lodge! What did you think?

*there may be spoilers in comments*

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
aishabintjamil
Aug. 31st, 2013 01:45 pm (UTC)
I loved it. I did spend a while in the early part of the book hearing references to past events that happened after the end of the first book and wondering if I'd somehow missed a book. :-) By the end of the book I saw why you didn't just write it all linearly, but early on I wondered about the choice.

I enjoyed the lodge scene where they barely specify what they're seeking in the regression and get his past relationship history instead of historical insights. It's a nice example of how even though you can lose things in that kind of visionary work by constraining the nature of your answers, you may get completely unrelated results if you don't have *some* constraints in mind.

The other bit that I thought was lovely was Elza realizing, as she comes to accept her own visionary abilities, that her mother had them too. It changes her mother from simply a woman whose reason was unhinged by the loss of a child and returning to her past traumas, to a grander, stronger figure - a sort of Cassandra who *knows* things are going to go drastically wrong if she goes home, but is forced to go by circumstance and is struggling to cope with that as well as the stuff visible on the surface.
jo_graham
Aug. 31st, 2013 07:09 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the problem when I had it all linear was that it made the entire first third of the book relationship drama and one didn't get to the spy plot until almost halfway through. It was really unbalanced. So I went with the idea of interspersing them rather than being purely chronological.

I'm glad you liked the lodge scene! It also would help to have somebody who knew something about history, which they really don't! They're all just casting around in the dark there. And of course Michel isn't thinking about the big earth shattering questions, but about his relationship woes.

It really does change her mother, doesn't it? She knew, but she had no context to accept her knowing. And Leo -- well, he thought he was doing the right thing, and he was doing the logical thing, the rational thing. Part of Elza's growth in this book is learning when not to trust the rational thing. Sometimes the picture is bigger than that, and ultimately she has to decide how she wants to frame the world and her place in it.
lillibet
Aug. 31st, 2013 03:51 pm (UTC)
Thinking about it, I realize that I like Elza better when she's not in a consuming relationship, when she is focusing on something else. I loved her hanging out as Charles, being "one of the boys" with people who know she's a woman--probably because a lot of my favorite times have been in situations like that, minus the cross-dressing.
jo_graham
Aug. 31st, 2013 07:11 pm (UTC)
Elza being one of the boys is kind of hell on wheels! But she's making friends, real friends who value her for herself and all the pieces of her, who she's not hiding Charles from or her esoteric experiences. That's a big deal for her, and something that will really help her in years to come.
ashabardon
Aug. 31st, 2013 04:27 pm (UTC)
I loved the magic and the way Elza relived her battles as Lydias via the French War School.
jo_graham
Aug. 31st, 2013 07:12 pm (UTC)
I thought you'd like it! She's very much awakened Lydias in her, and Lydias can be a tremendous source of strength for her. The battle -- why do you suppose Reille also thought there should be thirty horse archers, not fifty? :)
(Deleted comment)
jo_graham
Sep. 2nd, 2013 05:54 pm (UTC)
Yes! It's out! I hope you enjoy it!
queen_bellatrix
Sep. 8th, 2013 03:27 am (UTC)
Emperor's Agent Audiobook?
Hi:

I've been an awful commentor for far too long; there've been so many excerpts that looked so amazing, and I intended to comment, and then life would get in the way. But: this looks even better than the first one, and I didn't think that was possible. Are there maybe any plans to release on audio? It would be fantastic, though I realize perhaps impractical, if you could get the same woman whose narrating the first one that's coming out, if Audible's to be believed, later this month? I've seen some samples of her work on other things, and she looks amazing!

And guh, I can't wait to read and dive in to the discussion of Elza/Michele. When I saw your latest post come up, I couldn't help peeking, despite spoilers, because some of those excerpts had my inner romantic very worried, and the differences between modern and pre-modern marriage are fascinating. You brought up some things in comment responses that I'd never considered and now want to research far more fully. (Your books left me completely fascinated with the French Revolution, to the point that when optional questions were offered for a history exam, I immediately grabbed all the ones about that period!)

It must be so difficult, on a slightly related note, to write historical novels that keep the characters completely true to their sensibilities/values, knowing that those values will often offend/confuse modern readers. I admire immensely that you do so, despite that. Which all makes me wonder how much, for many of the historical authors writing pre late 1800's/1900's, there's a temptation to over-exaggerate the amount of marriages for love, simply because it's easier to make readers relate. Anyway: I'll stop being a history geek now *grin*
jo_graham
Sep. 8th, 2013 12:28 pm (UTC)
Re: Emperor's Agent Audiobook?
Hi! There will be an audiobook, but I'm not sure when it will be ready. I'm guessing January, maybe? But that's a guess at this point. I would love to have Arika Escalona do The Emperor's Agent as well as The General's Mistress. They plan to ask her, but I have no idea if she will or not. It depends on a lot of things, including paying her and her schedule!

If you're interested in changing social norms and attitudes in this period, here's two places to start -- The Family Romance of the French Revolution by Lynn Hunt and Napoleonic Friendship by Brian Martin.

We assume we know what words like "marriage" mean, when they don't even mean the same thing within all subcultures in a single nation! Social class has always been a HUGE element. Michel's parents probably married simply because they wanted to. Neither of them were more than barely literate, she had no dowry except some clothing as the younger daughter of a farmer, and he was a cooper who worked for a vineyard making wine barrels. With no property on the table, there was not even a marriage contract. And so there's no reason to marry except preference.

However, that's not the case with the wealthy and even upper middle class. With land, money, stocks, and valuables in the mix, not to mention the all consuming importance of family and influence, it was as complicated as a celebrity prenup today. And of course marriage carried tremendous advantage for the upper middle class, just as it does today. Michel and Aglae have completely different expectations. They're talking about two entirely different things using the same word, marriage.

I think there's always a temptation to interpret the past according to the present. And marriage for love is I think always over exaggerated. I know women who married for financial advantage or continued to stay married for financial advantage. In fact, I know at least one of them is probably reading this post! But I think we like to think that marriage is always about true love, even as we speculate at the reception about how long it will last!
Crystal Holdeman
Nov. 20th, 2013 08:04 pm (UTC)
Honore
I absolutely love Xandros/Emrys/Honore. Will we see Victory (Dion) in the future Elza books? (I enjoyed the shorts in Raven of Falkenau.)
jo_graham
Nov. 21st, 2013 04:44 pm (UTC)
Re: Honore
I'm so glad you do! I love Xandros/Emrys/Honore so much too. He is dear forever and ever. We definitely will see Victory in future Elza books! I thought she'd be in the third one, but it was getting so long I had to cut it a little earlier than I expected. So she'll be in the fourth book and all the subsequent ones.

What did you think of Honore and Gervais as Emrys and Sigismund?
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )