Tremontaine: The Swan Ball: (Episode 7) - Joel Derfner, Ellen Kushner, Malinda Lo, Patty Bryant, Racheline Maltese, Alaya Dawn Johnson Tremontaine: A City Without Chocolate: (Episode 8) - Malinda Lo, Ellen Kushner, Joel Derfner, Racheline Maltese, Patty Bryant, Alaya Dawn Johnson

I'm horribly behind on Tremontaine, as episode 11 has just been released, so I thought I ought to at least try and catch up a bit - so here's a review of episode 7 ('The Swan Ball') and 8 ('A City Without Chocolate').

 

In the former, Diane is finally hosting her ball, which is always a major talking point for the people of the city. This time around, she has invited the Balam household, though she hasn't accounted for quite how rude some of her peers will be and the effect this will have on the Balam. Rafe has been invited too and rejects the clothes laid out for him, while also toying with the affections of another man in order to attempt to make Will jealous (and succeeding beautifully). Meanwhile, Micah is also there as she has been smuggled in as promised but struggles with the sheer mass of humanity present there - when she manages to cope with that, it's mostly because of her determination to get a copy of the trade maps used by the Balam and her actions cause a literal disaster.

 

In the second of these two episodes, the focus is mostly on manipulation - one way or another, both Rafe and Diane are trying to get people to do what they want and are relatively successful. Rafe is sitting his master's examination, nervously having to account for his views in front of an interested audience, while Diane is shown to have been the mastermind behind the plot which currently finds the city running short of its favourite luxury. I was particularly amused with the various attempts made to find a substitute for chocolate, including the inventive actions of the Alchemy department in finding something smoke-able.

 

There's a palpable sense, as in the previous episodes, that the net is growing tighter around our characters and I find myself worried about whether they will all survive - Kaab in particular is poking her nose into other people's business in a way that seems likely to get it cut off and Rafe's ongoing dalliance with the duke is also extremely dangerous for his longer term health. As usual, I'm looking forward to seeing where all these storylines go and was pleased to hear there's going to be a second run of episodes when these 13 are complete.