After the end of last week’s reading, we might all be wondering whether the heartache and uprooting are worth what the Igibys hope to gain. In this week’s excerpt, Janner is wondering too.
(If you haven’t read the first book yet, this excerpt will be a bit spoilery.)
As Peet screamed on the road to Lamendron, morning birds chirped in the clearing where the Igibys slept. Cold blue light crept through the slit in the tent door.
Janner stretched, forcing his eyes open and shaking the cobwebs from his mind. To his left, Podo snored so loudly that Janner wondered how it hadn’t woken him sooner. Oskar didn’t snore, but with every long exhale of breath, his lips made a windy pfffffhhhhhhh.
Janner propped himself on one elbow and rubbed his eyes. In the faint light he could see Tink asleep with his head on Podo’s leg and Leeli curled up beside Nia with her backpack cuddled to her chest the way she used to hold Nugget. Janner crept from the tent.
The clearing was soft with dewy mist. Chunks of rubble rose out of the fog like gravestones, but the effect wasn’t unpleasant. He had been awake for many sunrises before, but never so close to the cliffs that he could watch the fiery ball lift itself from the sea. He walked through wet grass and sat with his feet dangling over the cliff.
The Dark Sea of Darkness wasn’t dark at all at this hour. Feathery clouds at the edge of the world glowed orange and savage yellow. Birds wheeled in the bright air far below.
Janner thought of his life only weeks ago, in the dregs of summer, when hay needed baling, the hogpig needed feeding, the garden needed weeding, and life was boring. So much had happened to the Janner he used to be. His life had been in danger countless times. More tears had been shed in these last weeks than in his whole life before. Nugget was dead, the Glipwood Township ravaged. Before, he lived under the oppression of the Fangs of Dang, but now he was on the run from them.
Then he thought of his father, Esben, and remembered the picture of him sailing on his twelfth birthday, an image Janner considered the essence of freedom. He thought about the royal blood in his veins and about the long-gone glory of his kingdom.
He had been too busy to think much about the real Anniera. It hovered in the distance of his best dreams but remained a dream only. It was hard to believe it actually existed, that across these very waters a home awaited him. A real island where there had once been real towns, where there stood a real castle—the castle where he was born. Janner ached to see it. He remembered the words of his father’s letter: “This is your land, and nothing can change that.” He imagined lying in the warm wind of a heathery slope, eyes closed so he could feel the heartbeat of his land.
He was only twelve, but he knew enough to realize that the way before him would be hard. Is it worth it? he asked himself. Was it worth losing his old life in order to learn the truth of who he was and who he was becoming?
Like the pluck of a stringed instrument, the first edge of the sun broke loose and poured light over the world.
Discussion: Can we talk about the right kind of tears?
If you haven’t read the books before, what do you think of Yurgen’s warning?
What was your favorite passage this week?