Review: Tremontaine, S1E4/5: “A Wake in Riverside” & “The Dagger and the Sword”

OK! With Sci-Fi Month now officially over and December in residence (what the hell, 2015, come back!), I have some catching up to do! First up is to get back up to speed with Tremontaine, and since I missed last week’s review, here’s a double feature…

A Wake in Riverside

A Wake in Riverside:

Dead men tell tales. Micah solves a problem.

An unexpected offer from the Duke Tremontaine forces a difficult decision upon Rafe. Pursuing her infatuation with the forger Tess, Kaab stumbles across evidence of murder . . . and hears the tale of a legendary crime. Meanwhile, Micah takes a bold step forward in unlocking the mystery of celestial navigation–with consequences for the Balams.

This episode is brought to you by Malinda Lo, who knows that the secret to a good wake is to keep the beer and the stories flowing.

So the plot thickens! I am getting to the point where I can’t stand having to put this story down…


Someone’s going to get hurt over this. I just know it. I’m less worried now about the “secret” of Micah’s identity getting out than I am about whether or not her efforts to solve these navigational problems for Rafe will be what causes Micah to get hurt here. She is so endearingly innocent of just about everything that’s going on around her (or over her head, in some Rafe-related cases) that part of me which knows all too well how Things Can Go Wrong in stories is afraid those Things will involve her…


Rafe & Will (& Diane)

Someone’s going to get hurt over this: Part 2…

… Someone might perhaps enjoy it a little bit, because Rafe might be finding his romantic side but that boy’s got hidden depths of spikiness and no mistake. Good grief, these three.

Okay, so Will and Diane’s marriage definitely isn’t as happy as I’d first thought. Will seems to be finding more contentment in Rafe’s arms than in his wife’s, and for me it’s interesting to realise how much I sympathise with a character who’s cheating on his wife. Will is a passionate man, and Rafe seems well suited to him. I like the dynamic that’s building here, even if it is almost certainly doomed to go badly eventually because a) Diane is neither blind nor stupid, and it seems Will isn’t as clever as his wife by half. He’s definitely a much worse liar, as evidenced by how fooled Diane isn’t when Will brings Rafe into the household as a secretary. (A secretary? Really, Will? That’s your cover story, is it? Okay, dear. *Pat pat*) Also, because b) like I said earlier, Rafe might have real feelings for the Duke but he’s also got an attitude problem, plus ambition enough to see the benefits in having such a well-to-do noble for a lover – especially when Will’s made no secret of his sympathies for Rafe’s cause at the University.

Prediction: Wet cats in a bag will have nothing on Rafe and Diane if they ever have it out. I just hope Will isn’t the one trying to hold the proverbial bag together when they do…

Kaab & Tess (& Vincent!)

Someone’s going to get hurt, Part the Third – well, actually, that’s more of a given here than anywhere, because y’know, Tess’s protector just got stabbed and thrown in the river. As you do. But at the same time, there could be romance to balance it out…? Kaab certainly wishes it was so – and she’s not the only one. There’s queer romance sewn up with peril all over the place in this thing, and I have to say, I can’t get enough of it. It’s OK, Kaab. I’m a sucker for a redhead too. Just, um, have a care how you go, please…

The Dagger and the Sword


The Dagger and the Sword:

Kaab fights everyone. Will mucks things up.

With Ben murdered, Tess needs a new protector . . . and Kaab, deeply infatuated, is determined to screen all applicants at swordpoint. Micah struggles to make her numbers come out right. And on the Hill, Diane gives Will his marching orders for the next Council meeting, on which the fate of the Tremontaine fortune hinges – and dispatches a dangerous servant to Riverside.

This episode is brought to you by Alaya Dawn Johnson, whose numbers always come out right.

*Reads the first line of that blurb* SEE? YOU SEE?! WHAT DID I TELL YOU.

*Makes a cup of tea and settles down again* Le sigh.

Kaab & Tess

OK, so these two make an impressive team, even without the romance. Most of this episode seems to focus on Tess coming out of grieving for Ben, Kaab trying to find a replacement protector for her, and both of them eventually agreeing that Ben’s murder might still mean trouble for Tess. And so the investigation begins! I’m enjoying the dynamic here very much, because you have two women taking on a dangerous situation and making a good show of just how capable they are. The introduction of Vincent Applethorpe, who eventually gets the protector job after duelling (and arguing) with Kaab over the matter, might have lent a worrying “male hero saves the day” aspect to this part of the story, if either of these women had had less agency. Kaab is not the best fighter with a sword, and she knows it; when Vincent points this out, she readily admits her lack of skill. On the other hand, her skills with a dagger are sharp enough to make the better swordsman envious, and so this results in a much more satisfying, mutually beneficial situation when they agree to teach each other what they know, as well as arranging Tess’s protection in Riverside.

Feminist stories are awesome.

Rafe, Will & Diane

That bag of cats scenario’s getting closer…

Sooo, the “secret” is out, at least within the house, and Diane is starting to make me nervous. Nobody so pent-up as she clearly is ever settled their troubles calmly and in a polite and orderly fashion, and this episode also shows us that she’s not above hiring killers to do her dirty work. Poor Ben. While we’re on that subject, WHAT THE HELL DID HE SHOW HER? I am dying to know what secret Ben threatened her with that was bad enough that Diane had him killed over it!

Also, that Reynauld is a bit frightening. Arrogant, maybe? But, eeek.

On the other hand, there’s Vincent! I need to mention him again here because I confess, the backstory that’s hinted at in his scenes here have left me quite curious about our heroic swordsman. I must know things! Also, his swooning over Kaab? Oh, dear. Please do not let that sour things if/when it goes badly. I mean that sincerely. Please don’t…

So, yes. I’m more hooked than ever. Bring me the next Wednesdaaaay…

2 thoughts on “Review: Tremontaine, S1E4/5: “A Wake in Riverside” & “The Dagger and the Sword”

  1. Loving your reviews/read-alongs of Tremontaine, thanks to the #Tremontaine hashtag on Twitter. I’m really enjoying the series, too. I’ve only read Swordspoint once, and I thought about re-reading it before the series started, but decided not to. Wishing I had!

    Like you, I’m divided in my feelings about Will. As Diane thought to herself, they could have worked out an arrangement, since it’s pretty common in this society. But on the other hand, maybe he just wants something of his own, since she pretty much seems to run the show in their household. (I’m attributing that to him, but we never really get his point of view on it.) On the third hand, I’ve always liked Diane, but this turn of events with Ben has me questioning some of the things I thought about her. That better be some big, important secret she has to keep in order to justify murder. (And I think I got a couple of hints in this last episode that it has something to do with the North, and therefore maybe magic. Yippee, magic!)

    1. I agree that Will and Diane could maybe have arranged something, but at the same time I got the impression that she’s begrudging him a fling because of all the troubles she’s dealing with, which is really on her own head because she hasn’t been forthcoming about that, herself… Ah, marriage and politics. 😛

      And yes, that secret better be huge! I have some speculations, but I want to hold onto them and see what comes of that. I’m usually wrong, heh!

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