Transcript:: Episode 18: Ashwin

Chelsea 0:12
Welcome back to Beyond the Sectors, your as your bi-monthly podcast all about the Beyond world of author duo Kit Rocha. My name is Chelsea.

Ana 0:20
And I’m Ana.

Chelsea 0:21
And I guess we are – what? We’re not beyond the sectors anymore. We’re the riders. We’re riding the sectors? That sounds bad, that sounds not like the right thing.

Ana 0:31
Well, we moved into a new sector. Sector One.

Chelsea 0:34
We are beyond Sector Four now. So, if you guys are just now kind of catching up with us, we are officially starting with the Gideon’s Rider books, which means we’re here today to talk about Ashwin. We have left Sector Four behind, although we will see some familiar faces in this book and in the next couple of books just kind of popping up here and there. But especially in this book. We met Ashwin and Kora in the last couple of – well actually, I guess we need Ashwin fairly early on. Is it book three when he comes in and saves Ace’s life? Or book four I guess is the Rachel, Ace, and Cruz book.

Ana 1:12
Yeah, but I think that happened in the previous book.

Chelsea 1:16
Oh, you’re right. Yeah. Wow. So we’ve kind of known Ashwin at least on the periphery for a while. Um, yeah, so we are over in Sector One. This is the religious sector. This is the Rios family. We have met them a little bit. We’ve seen Gideon obviously an operation and we’ve met a couple of members of the family through Mad, but this is our first kind of big introduction. So I guess do we want to start with kind of like a plot synopsis?

Ana 1:42
Yeah, just a little bit. I mean, we follow Ashwin and Kora in this book, and so it opens with Ashwin coming into sector one. He is there to infiltrate the sector. But that brings him right into the circle of that he’s been trying to avoid where Kora has been hiding.\

Chelsea 2:08
And when we open Ashwin does not know that Kora has been hiding out in Sector One. Or, he’s just recently learned and of course, Kora does not know that Ashwin is still alive. So when they kind of both see each other for the first time it is a big deal. Big big deal.

Ana 2:27
Serious fireworks.

Chelsea 2:31
Some little bit of anger, a little bit of some some issues and emotions coming up with you know, very good reason.

Ana 2:39
Yeah, so this is a few months after the of the events and the previous Beyond series. The wall and Eden has fallen. And there’s all these refugees and people who have been displaced, who Sector One has sort of taken under the wing. They have a big missionary purpose of blessing the world so they go out, and they are becoming a power in the post-Eden world, right? And so they’ve made the people at the base a little nervous. And so while, you know, the person who always threatened the base and Eden used to be Dallas, and Dallas, is still a power in this world, it is not the same when it’s a theocracy with highly motivated followers.

Chelsea 3:31
Yes, this is I think the thing that kind of stands out most starkly to me this time, especially having like, just read all of the O’Kane book, is just how starkly different Bree and Donna are able to make Sector One while still operating within like the framework of this universe that we’ve already established. Because obviously we’ve seen Sector One through glimpses of the O’Kanes, but once we’re actually in it still feels like such a different culture, even though like found family and so much of those kinds of systematic touchstones are the same. The entire like organization around it is so different.

Ana 4:11
Right! They’re all people who’ve been touched by the same event, you know. The flares and everything that destabilized the world happened in Sector One as much as in Sector Four, but people took completely different tacts in responding to it. And so yeah, it’s the same world very much operating in the same world, but it’s its own little sort of universe of how these people came together and the culture they’ve brought, and how power is measured is very different. The importance of family in hierarchy is very different.

Chelsea 4:27
And it’s very interesting to me, especially because like there is just as much found families with the O’Kanes inside like the Riders, but it’s also juxtaposed with a much more elaborate like biological family structure. Because the Rios family and the ruling family are genetic family, they are biological family. They are cousins, or, I mean – there are intermarriages but they descend from a similar like genetic family tree much more than we saw in like, the O’Kane territory.

Ana 5:19
Right but it’s also complicated in the sense that Maricela is an adopted daughter of Gideon’s sister, you know. She’s adopted in very much state and the same way Kora has become adopted into the real family. A way that she actually doesn’t really begin to appreciate till Ashwin comes in, how real her adoption is. That it isn’t just a formality or a thing people say but Gideon considers her a sister. So yeah, so I mean, there’s, again complicated families, complicated relationships and power dynamics. Just like in the first book, we had all the tension around Noelle and her father’s relationship, we start unpacking a lot more of the tensions that Gideon has with his grandfather, who was the Prophet. And the same way that we have seen Mad have to deal with.

Chelsea 6:19
Gideon’s stuff is always really fascinating. And it continues to be kind of more fascinating as we get to know him and see more of his kind of juxtaposition with his grandfather, the Prophet, and the kind of person he’s being but also his struggle against the institutions that have already been established. We talked a little bit about that in the course of the Beyond books in terms of some of the changes that Gideon has tried to make, and the way those did or did not go over super great with the population of One in general. But it’s really interesting because like you said, when we are kind of doing our plot synopsis Ashwin shows up and he’s got his orders to infiltrate the Riders, which we learned fairly early on is something that Gideon also knows, and is something that Gideon then also tells Deacon and so there are multiple kind of layers of this chess game, essentially all kind of being played at the same time.

Ana 7:12
Right. So, in the book, we really have Ashwin coming in with this ulterior motive and he has ulterior motives to his ulterior motives, because the base might have sent him, but he is a Rider and accepts that because it puts him where he could be closest to Kora. And he has this all this conflicted feelings over that right? Because he is convinced he’s a danger to her because everything that the base has told them that if he becomes unstable and fixated, he will harm her, in fact, and crews, restates that to him and the end of the beyond books, where he takes and hides a quarter for him. So you have a person who’s convinced that he’s a danger But also convinced that he’s the only one who can keep her safe. And so he has to come into the be part of the Riders so he can keep her safe from the base. So like he’s like subverting and serving the base at the same time, which I love about Ashwin. He’s so complex.

Chelsea 8:16
Yeah, and I love it because Austin’s whole like bottom line is Kora and so he states several times that like, if the base’s goals or if the Rider’s goals or whoever overlay with that mission, then like he is very much so like, lawful neutral. Only his lawful is protecting Kora Bellamy. So whatever else may or may not come in between that – which is complicated, of course, because you know, as we learn more about her, and especially, you know, Project Panacea, and all of that that’s going on, her kind of relationship to him and what she’s able to do for him takes on like a different kind of meaning or cast or importance. And so it really adds like, an additional layer and then of course, this is the first time, you know her being in Sector One, her kind of being out on her own. This is the first time she’s really gotten to make some choices for herself. And so here we have another heroine who for the first time was presented with the chance to make some choices, and that factors into what she feels are kind of her ultimate allegiances.

Ana 9:18
Yeah, I mean, I thought it was really interesting how Bree and Donna take to outsiders to bring us into Sector One. As we read, you know, just like we followed Noelle into Sector Four, where everything was new and confusing, we’re following Ashwin trying to make sense of like, the religious and moralistic connections that happen in Sector One. Where he’s been raised without emotion, without like a very strict rigid sense of belief in trusting the base, but at the same time, being betrayed by what he is in the base. And then he’s here in Sector One, where you have these people who have this immense amount of power and are trying to wield it in the most responsible way, because there has been so much abuse in the past. And there’s then Kora, who is, you know, she’s not sure she’s, she’s going to believe in the God that the Gideon’s people believe in, but she believes in their mission and in the reality of the work that they do. And and there’s so much to unpack for them as they try to figure out who they are in this new world, and whether they fit in or not.

Chelsea 10:35
And I think that that’s really important as kind of like you said, this new entry point for us. Because it is a really complicated political and religious-political environment that we’re entering. And this book does, and I’ve always really appreciated that this book and all of this Sector One stuff really does, get a really interesting way to focus on things like religion and the roles that religion and religious structure plays in something like kind of a post-apocalyptic scenario or a life when things are kind of, you know, taken back to a certain point. And there are some really interesting things because even various members of the religious family struggle with or have issues with what they actually believe of the faith. And that goes back to, you know, those who knew the original prophet and some of the really kind of shitty and shady things that he did while also establishing this religion. But of course, you know, that’s the case with religion, wrestling with all the other good things and the hope and the, you know, mental and spiritual and community relief that the church or in this case the Rios family provides to people. And it’s interesting, especially when we hear from characters who are saints basically, who are sainted ones or who are operating as living religious figures now.

Ana 11:54
Right, or people who have to live with the memory of their loved ones being sainted religious figures sometimes. Because, you know, like they have to share them with the world. So we have that happens to Mad , that happens to Gideon, that happens to Maricela, very much worth the people they love are people – people are wanting, you know. They have tattoos they’re going to share, and they have they see their images everywhere and how complex that is, that the personal relationship when something becomes something bigger and no longer belonging to them? And I think there is that element throughout this book, who do you belong to? And who are you really especially what people expect you to be what people have classified you to be versus who you really are. So I mean, like we have Kora who’s been trained to be a doctor her whole life, who finds out that there’s like, even greater reason why she’s such a healer, and then we have Ashwin, who’s been trained to be this killer and unquestioning soldier who questions. And who rationalizes, and does all this stuff and how they fit against the identity that’s been imposed on them.

Chelsea 13:12
Yeah, I think that’s one of the things that’s like really interesting for me, especially where Ashwin is concerned. It’s like this pull and this this thing that Kora keeps coming back to where the Makhai soldiers are so indoctrinated to believe that they don’t feel that they almost like predispose themselves to not feeling or to – it’s not even not feeling. To not recognize emotions as emotions, because what Cora points out is that what they view as recalibration or the need for recalibration is anything from jealousy, to anger, to lust to love to, like, the emotions. It’s not that they don’t feel emotions. It’s just, it’s a very interesting, like you said kind of what we are taught to think of ourselves and our situation in our lives, and then how that can actually then manifest into kind of its own reality,

Ana 14:10
Right. They’re not given words for those feelings. And they’re told those things don’t exist. They’re just something that they’re not supposed to encounter. So they don’t have ways to process them or deal with them. So yeah, so attraction becomes obsession, because there is no way to learn how to manage that and your response to having some attention becomes fixation and yeah. And it’s all because they’ve been robbed and told to dismiss all that input that could get in the way of the mission, push it to the side.

Chelsea 14:44
And then I think it’s interesting because we see that same thing pop up when we get to – and this is happening way to the end of the book – but when we learn about Kora and Project Panacea, and her being basically genetically engineered to be the counterpoint to the Makhai Project, whereas the Makhai are super soldiers, she is a basically of an experimental class born to be super healers. The problem is her entire group, the entire scientific cohort, basically all either became addicted to drugs or suffered mental breakdowns or all burned out very early. And Ashwin’s concern comes from this really interesting place of he doesn’t want to tell her for for lots of reasons, but primarily his thought is – has she made it so long in her life without suffering that fate because she doesn’t know that that is the fate that the other people who have are part of this project suffered. So it’s very much like he thinks that because she doesn’t know she’s supposed to break down, that’s part of the reason she’s not breaking down. And it is, there’s some really interesting I think, kind of like allegories in there to like mental health and being super compassionate and drawing lines around your own mental health and kind of, it’s an interesting, like a web of things to pick apart.

Ana 16:04
Yeah, I mean, I mean, there’s so much about that are whether a diagnosis is a predisposition to something and predestines you to a particular kind of feeling. I know have a friend whose parents knew she had ADD and kept that from her most of her life.

Chelsea 16:22
Yikes.

Ana 16:22
Yeah. And, and it wasn’t till she was like a senior in high school that she like recognized herself and all the things that she did in a in a book and was like, ‘Mom, I think I have ADHD’ and her mom’s like, ‘Oh, yeah, we categorized you a long time ago’. But they came from the mindset that if they just taught her to be a different way, it would be different. And, and for her, she’s like, ‘no! oh my god, I would have it. I wouldn’t have been kicking myself or being stressed out at myself for things, you know. So there’s that element of a diagnosis can also give you like a, like a click of like, ‘Oh my god, there I am’. And I think we see Kora have lots of things that haven’t made sense to her make sense to her when she realizes ‘I am different’. And there’s a reason I’m different. But I also see where Ashwin thought like this doom that came to all of them, he can maybe help her avoid it if she doesn’t know that’s where she’s going to go. Because he’s always been told he’s going to go a particular way if he feels a particular way.

Chelsea 17:32
Exactly. Yeah. And what I love in their kind of, you know, it’s not even an argument but their final conversation with kind of really kind of finally communicate with each other. I think it’s really important that Ashwin acknowledges that like, they were both right, but they were also both wrong and like, they were both operating from a really good place. And I think what you said is really important because it’s very validating, right? Like it’s very validating and Kora is upset with Ashwin because he knows she’s been wanting answers. And he’s seen how much it’s hurt her to feel this way and not know why and to legitimately think that she is crazy or that something is wrong with her, that something’s going on, not knowing that it’s not even that something is wrong with her, but there is something going on. There is a reason and it’s not just for nothing, it is for a specific reason. So again, yeah, I think it’s very interesting. And it’s kind of nice to see that there really is no right answer that situation, right? Like, we will never know, predestination because once you know, you know, right, you can’t, you can’t know the alternative. And so I just think it’s a nice kind of way to walk that line between the two and to a nice, kind of like ultimate resolution.

Ana 18:52
Yeah, and I mean, it was a fantastic conflict because you have someone who is trying to protect another person fromThe knowledge that they’re seeking for their own good and how that brings an element of deceit that they have to really struggle to come over. I mean she, it’s legitimately a betrayal and and that’s not like a snap your fingers were over it kind of situation.

Chelsea 19:21
And it’s really nice and, not refreshing but it’s just very different. So many of the last O’Kane books were so big, we were dealing with this war,we were dealing with this huge event and how it was touching all of these lives of these people that we knew and we’re coming to know. Whereas the conflict in this book feels much more intimate. Like, obviously, yes, there is still big plot stuff happening in terms of getting Ashwin kind of introduced to and officially kind of away from the base and into the Riders, and setting up the next like several relationships for the series, but the the essential conflict is very much so just a communication/emotionally centered, intimate conflict between Ashwin and Kora, and then also between Ashwin and Gideon, and navigating that aspect of it. And it so felt it was nice. It was kind of nice to take that step back and do something that felt a little bit more like the beginning of the Beyond books do, where they just feel much kind of more intimate as we get to know this bigger world. And, obviously it’s Bree and Donna, and I know that coming in games will be afoot and it won’t be that way for a long, but like it felt like kind of going back to those first couple Beyond books.

Ana 20:37
Right. It was it was quiet and for the most part of the book, it really happens in Sector One for the vast majority of it. And within Sector One, pretty much almost all in the Gideon compound. So we’re either in the barracks or in the palace – I guess the the mansion. So yeah, I remember reading the book again, sort of realizing oh man, and you know, like, a lot of it’s just the tension of like ‘you lied to me’ and ‘I thought you were dead, bastard’ kinda feelings on Kora’s side. And Ashwin like having to make friends and that scares the crap out of people.

Chelsea 21:18
Which like, we love it, right? Like who doesn’t love that line of literally, like, not even not even the unfeeling rogue, but in this case, like literally genetically engineered to not have feelings, or to not know his feelings. So this is like, the highest level of emotionally stunted hero that we could really get. And to watch him, like, take that down and to watch him literally, like, learn to name his feelings, both like romantically and sexually with Kora, but also just in terms of like, camaraderie and having friends, because – and this is an interesting conversation or kind of points, that he makes in terms of like, while there’s a bond amongst the Makhai soldiers, that the Makhai soldiers are not necessarily friends or family in the same way that the Riders are. And so we see some interesting kind of juxtaposition, right?

Ana 22:12
Because we also see him interact with another Makhai soldier who’s like, ‘Dude, what are you doing running with the Rios family?’ Right? And basically, like ‘you and Kora? Again? Really? Like, I thought, I shot you up full of poison to avoid this’. And he is really trying, he’s trying to look out for him in the like, the way a Makhai soldier can. And so they have this like, but at the same time, Ashwin is ready to like, shoot him if he’s going to be a threat. Like he’s trying to decide, is this actually trying to help me? Or is he going to do something that I’m going to need to kill him for? And it’s, you know, it’s complicated. And he has a hard time figuring that out. And I love how the he starts, you know, how he’s trying to make sense of Sector One, and how he categorizes the people in there, and the figures that we’re going to get to know, all the other Riders and how he notices what he notices about them. That’s all because it’s slightly askew from our typical vision of them. So you know, like, we get to see Anna and Deacon in this book and introduced in this book. And it’ll be very interesting to talk about, like, how different they are in themselves from what he sees of them and thinks of them and how insightful he really is, even though he doesn’t realize it.

Chelsea 23:37
Because he is this outsider. And so that automatically kind of enables him to see these people in a different way than like, they see themselves. So that we’ve seen them through like, Mad or through Gideon or through these other characters. But also he sees them in this kind of specific way because he is Makhai and because he’s been trained to notice certain things as like a tactical defensive strategy. And so like, I think it’s hilarious and also really touching that Cruz and core have that conversation about how the way that Ashwin shows that he cares, right? It’s another brick in the wall of showing like the love and happiness and happily ever after look different for everybody. And so when Ashwin is talking about efficiency, what he’s actually saying is, I care about you, or this this situation is giving me a lot of emotions. The way I know to deal with that is to put it in terms of like military tactics and precision. And so it’s very much so this like – because Cruz understands that to a certain extent, right? Like obviously Cruz was not Makhai but Cruz was high enough at the base that he very much he can kind of speak Ashwin, right. Like he kind of gets that and he’s able to translate that for Kora and for the reader. And it kind of gives another it’s like you know, when we learned that Wesley saying “as you wish” is actually saying so much more than that. It’s like the the key to the dialogue that really flips the character understanding, and it’s such like, a great moment the way it was written. Good job Bree and Donna [laughter]

Ana 25:10
Yeah and I mean, I just love the little snippets that we got to see of Rachel and Cruz and Ace in this when they show up at the door. Because of course Ace insists that he needs to have the best doctor for his babies.

Chelsea 25:29
When Ace looks at Ashwin and goes “It’s that crazy murder motherfucker!” Oh my god, dude, I laughed so loud in my office I woke the baby! Because it’s just like – that’s Ace! That’s Alexander Santana.

Ana 25:44
And so yeah, so that’s such such a – both of them are so them in that moment. And also how Kora, I feel like we saw so much of how much how Ashwin is treated matters to Kora. And that has been that core of her connection with him. She wants him to be treated well, even when he doesn’t want to be treated well. When he’s ready to excuse Ace’s hostility and Crux’s suspicion, it matters to her. Like she’s going to walk right out of there if they’re not going to be cool with them.

Chelsea 26:20
Well, because I think for her that goes back to like – she can see and she wants Ashwin to be able to see that people don’t care nearly as much about his history as he cares about his history, right? Like, because of the way he was raised on the base, because of the things he’s done and the conditioning he’s gone through, he very much so sees himself as irredeemable and somebody that people are not going to be able to look at, or accept into their, like familial groups, without always thinking that. And so it’s very important to Kora that, like, he he be acknowledged and recognized, specifically by people who know his history and his backstory and who can look at him and say: ‘Yes, I know, but’ or ‘even though, I still’. And like that is a very important sentiment for Kora because like it’s that moment when he’s getting inducted, like an inducted into the Riders and he’s getting that first glimpse of a group of people who will do that, the things really flip for him and we start to see him actually, like, opening up as much as a Makhai solider is able to actually do that.

Ana 27:35
Yeah, I mean, I think that is such an interesting theme to center on for this whole series as so far we’ve gotten in the books. Because that scenes going to come back up in Deacon. And I think it shows up again, and Ivan, a bunco of people having a feeling of like there’s something that has marked them that makes them on worthy of love, and having people say ‘No, dude, you’re loved. And stop acting like an asshole and come and hang out with us again’.

Chelsea 28:11
Yeah, I think that’s a really interesting point. Like I think where like obviously like found family and the diversity of happily ever after obviously goes for I feel safe to say like, everything Bree and Donna do just as like a general touchstone. Whereas I feel like found family and like, the diversity of happily ever after was more the O’Kane thing. Because of the way Sector One is set up, and because of the way the Riders operate as literally the like sin eaters and the moral sponges of the people of Sector One, that idea of worthiness and deserving love and all of that, like, despite the things you may have done or like with overriding factors for the singular things you’ve done? Yeah it does become very much so like a central theme. I just realized like we’re like 40 minutes in I haven’t actually talked about like the plot really. So like I guess in like 100 words or less. It’s basically Ashwin infiltrates to protect Kora.

Ana 29:14
And then infiltrates the base back?

Chelsea 29:17
Yeah he goes back to the base.

Ana 29:19
To protect Kora.

Chelsea 29:23
Yeah, so it comes out that basically what happens is everybody who’s on the base, all the elite soldiers have a genetic isotopic marker. They’ve all been injected with a kind of an isotope that makes them glow in this certain technology. It’s all very 21st century, very high tech. Very cool.

Ana 29:40
And Aswhin’s magic drone.

Chelsea 29:43
Yeah, Ashwin’s magic drone. It’s very – it’s very like heat sensor. It’s very, very cool. But because Kora is the last surviving member of Project Panacea she is like, basically, dead meat if the base finds out because everybody else from this project was eliminated. This is a buried project, nobody’s supposed to know. But the base has rejuvenated this technology. And Ashwin, through a fellow Makhai soldier, gets word that the base is maybe on to the fact that Kora exists. So all of a sudden, he’s got to return to the base and convince the base that they don’t know what they DO know, which is that Kora is alive. And of course, there’s some really great like tense, high tech down to the wire, kind of like-

Ana 30:31
I mean, there’s hacking and bluffing to a great extent!

Chelsea 30:36
To the utmost degree. And it’s very much so like that moment, like it’s that moment, in the end of like the heist movie, where the one thing has like be in the one spot and it all comes together. But essentially, there’s a conversation that happens between Ashwin and his commander on the base, where the leader in not quite as many words, but essentially says ‘you can go back to Sector One, be they’re on a quote unquote, mission long term to infiltrate, as long as you promise that if Gideon starts to go off the deep end and turn into a dictator, like his grandfather, that you will be the person to stop Gideon from doing that’ to basically kill Gideon before he becomes any kind of dictator.

Ana 31:20
And that’s amazing, too, because that’s something that actually Gideons completely okay with. Gideon doesn’t want to become his grandfather, doesn’t want to abuse the power, is constantly worried about him losing that perspective and turning in some way, taking it for granted the sacrifices of his soldiers, and the love of his people. And so he even gives Gideon that out in how he structures the oath. Because everybody else has sworn to protect Gideon, and he doesn’t have to protect Gideon. He has to protect the Rios family. There’s this, this moment where Ashwin realizes, ‘Oh, you know what I know’, you know. It was sort of a moment of mutual trust of like, basically, ‘I am trusting you in my land, because I know that you will protect them even from me’.

Chelsea 32:17
And I really, I really am coming to, on the second reread, like really love and appreciate Gideon, even more for that. He is incredibly, hyper aware of his people and his community in a way that almost even seems to go beyond Dallas, or is very different than the way that like Dallas as a sector leader is in touch with like his community. Like there’s a scene, there’s a little bit where – I don’t remember if it’s in this book or Deacon – but basically there is a conversation about Gideon, where people are kind of like, ‘he’s not touched by God, but maybe he is or maybe he’s just like, observant enough’ that it’s like this Del, almost kind of like mysticism where he’s just observant and in tune and aware enough of what he doesn’t want to be and what he doesn’t want and what he does want for and in the people around him. Like he’s able to without saying it in those words, tell Ashwin ‘I see you, I know that if I require you to make this pledge to obey me, you won’t. But if I leave out that one line and just ask you to protect the family, then we have entered a contract that you can’. Like, he knows how to communicate on Ashwin’s terms to still get what he wants, which like sounds manipulative, but in order to be manipulative, you have to be like hyper aware of your people and your situation.

Listen, listen. I know if they don’t, it’s fine. But I’m picking up on such a major Psy/Changeling, Hawk vibes from Gideon, that I know, eventually – I do think there is something really interesting going on with Gideon, and I am so deeply fascinated by his like, constant awareness and having to juggle this, like his current power position. Because like, it’s not just power, like – it’s not like he’s a politician, and he just has power. It’s wrapped up in so many other people’s faith structures. But he’s also in charge of the Riders in a way that is very specific and interesting. And like, he’s so aware of not becoming his grandfather. And it’s so influential in the choices he makes and stuff that it’s just, yeah. I find it really fascinating as a character and in each book, I’m always so like, interested to see the extra pieces of him that get added to kind of like the overall picture.

Ana 33:47
Yeah! He’s empathic and intuitive and whether it’s a history of manipulative psychology in the family, he he knows just how to give him the right out. And I think that’s where I think that Bree and Donna are doing something really interesting with Gideon. Because in some ways he reminds me a lot of Lex, because Lex also has all sorts of ways to manipulate people, that she’s been trained to read people and push them in particular directions. And so likewise, I think when Gideon has to deal with his stuff – eventually! Please write that book someday! [laughter]

Okay, my husband’s a pastor. And I was a pastor’s wife. And having been in that side of things for ministry and knowing sometimes how people can become plastic or bitter or see the worst when you’re on the back side of things, I really respect the place that they’re in and what they’re doing with Gideon. Somebody who maybe doesn’t quite even – he doesn’t, he has a faith, but it’s not the same faith that his people have.

Chelsea 36:08
Because his people have faith, like, in him. And he doesn’t think he’s a religious figure. Like he, he doesn’t think he’s a son of a god. Like he doesn’t actually think he is a god, you know, or deity or whatever.

Ana 36:22
He believes in their beliefs.

Chelsea 36:25
Yeah, he believes in the power of belief. And he very much so respects and take seriously his stewardship of other people’s belief in him. And that’s what I like really respect about him is, like you’re saying, even as he struggles with what he believes, he’s so respectful of the importance of faith to all of these other people.

Ana 36:48
So that’s one of the things that when I first came into the series, I was like, ‘Okay, let’s, let’s see where this goes’. And I’ve really been fascinated in every book, the voice, the portrayal of people’s faith, and at the same time, the way that they are able to develop the power structure, the complicated power structure, the grasping power structure of this world. Especially as we, you know, find out you know, we have people who Isabella’s already starting to like ‘Maricela, you really need to pick somebody’.

Chelsea 37:22
Because we – because there’s very much system that’s, like, almost like royalty, Like a royal family aspect. I always think what’s really interesting is like, there’s that there’s the almost kind of underlying constant discussion of, like, religion and money, right? Because like, the Rios family is so incredibly wealthy, because they’re able to turn or use the piety and the contributions and the tithings of the community. And it’s amassed in this wealth, and like they use it very liberally to help those who need help, but there’s still such an amassing of things that it gets into this really interesting interplay between like, stuff, and technology and old world and new world and like.

Ana 38:08
Well, Ashwin breaks it down, like when he’s walking around Gideons mansion and noticing the candles, and how he knows it’s a place that’s off the grid, and that they have renewable resources. But the candles are a statement, because these are actually expensive to have, just like the simplicity of the clothing that Gideon wears, and the white dresses that his sisters can wear, and how that is a luxury. It looks simple in handspun, but it’s all artificial, in that same sense, because it is maintained by wealth and the fact that they have servants. So it’s like, there’s that those double messages that he’s constantly like trying to decipher, which makes this place a very interesting place.

Chelsea 38:57
Right? Because that’s what’s so fascinating. Then there’s also that flip side of Gideons coming from of like – the tallow for the candles is tithed by a family. So if they don’t use the candles, it says something about the family that contributed the tallow to make the candles, like so it is this really fascinating, like, interconnected loop. Gideon doesn’t want to be wealthy like – again, I read Ashwin and Gideon like back to back – like that they comment that Gideon doesn’t necessarily want to be wealthy, right? Like he doesn’t want to be this royal kind of figure. Like there’s something about him that very much so wants to be kind of rough and tumble kind of more like the Riders are. But he can’t be because he has to serve this figurehead leadership position. And part of that is accepting the gifts and the sacrifices and contributions from his community. So yeah, it’s this, like you said, there’s these mixed messages that that the characters are aware of like within the text and are also wrestling with.

Ana 40:06
So we get our happy ending. We have we have Kora and Ashwin against all odds, find a way to be together and then have the complication of she is the sister, and he’s a Rider now how, how is that going to work? And it’s just basically everybody’s like, no, it’s it works.

Chelsea 40:28
It’s cool, don’t worry about it. Yeah, it’s really great. Because this, you know, it’s – we know that because Gideon is so on the lookout for becoming his grandfather, we know that what Ashwin’s commander has told him is essentially kind of a get out of jail free pass. That like, from what we know and can see of the books like this is his pass for why he’s now going to like be in Sector One. And along the same lines, we learned that Dylan in Five has some med tech that allows the faint trace of isotopes in Kora’s bled to be removed. And also in Cruz’s blood, because Cruz was also marked as an elite soldier. So like, now both of them are no longer on their surveillance map, right? Like if the drones that the base has come swooping through again, they won’t be picked up. So we’ve relieved literally like the external pressures. So then, you know, Ashwin and Kora sit down, they’re able to kind of like, have that talk that we talked about where they can both kind of come to the agreement that like, they were both right, but they were both wrong. And they both just kind of need to start over basically, this is their chance to do that. And so we get to see we get to finally see the cabin, we get to see the bug out. You know, Ashwin’s like secret hideout. And what I love so much is that throughout the whole novel, Kora tells him so many times that she would have so willingly gone with him to this place, if he had just asked. If he hadn’t tried to, like, take her or kidnap her or again – here’s the thing! The O’Kane thing, the dudes in Kit Rocha’s books things, like acting out of her quote, best interest and really just violating all of her agency. But if he had just asked her to come away with him, she would have done that, and so to have her say that so many times and then finally be in this place where he had wanted to take her is a very like, nice way to end with our little like, button of a closer. Oh, man. Okay, so we have talked for almost an hour I think we’ve probably hit most of it. But any particular like, favorite lines or favorite favorite scenes or moments?

Ana 42:42
I really love when Kora gets her tattoo. Del is one of my favorite characters in the series, because of her empathy and her sincerity and how she deals with people and how she gives people a physical representation of a mission that validates them and challenges them and affirms and so the way that that whole scene breaks down. And I mean I just love a lot of the scenes where Kora gets to have sisterhood, having grown up so alone. So whether it’s hanging out with the acolytes and spending time with Maricela and gossiping with Nita, those are all just to me like cute little moments of that are necessary. They’re necessary for Kora. She needs friends just as much as Ashwin does.

Chelsea 43:42
Yeah, and I really love those moments too. I’ve – the first one is like a very specific line. There’s, right after they’ve like had sex for the first time there’s a line where Kora says something along the lines of like, you know, ‘pillow talk, you can look it up later. For now, you can just say, no ever made you feel like this before. Like it’s a line, but it works’. And then Ashwin’s reply is ‘I don’t need a line. No one’s ever made me feel before’.

Ana 44:08
Which, dang!

Chelsea 44:11
[Exhales] Listen, he may not need a line, but that is a good line. Okay? That was a good line. And the other thing I super love that I forgot was in this book is the Demi Moore/Patrick Swayze throwing clay pots in the courtyard, like, slippery hands like homage scene. Like, again, I kind of forgot that it was in this book, and then it snuck up on me and I was like, ‘Oh, is that are we? Okay? Okay, we’re doing we’re doing a little, a little Ghost scene here. Okay’. There’s lots of cute things that Bree and Donna always do. But that particular one, I was just like – it’s kind of unnecessary but also super great. And I’m very glad it’s in the book. But alright, friends. That wraps up, I think our conversation on Ashwin and our introduction to Sector One. We will be back in a couple of weeks to talk about the next Gideon’s Riders book, which is Deacon’s book. In the meantime, do you want to let them know where they can find us, Ana?

Ana 45:12
Yes. You can find us at beyondthesectors.com or @beyondsectors on Twitter.

Chelsea 45:16
And you can find me on Twitter @anoutlawlife.

Ana 45:19
And I’m @anacoqui!

Chelsea 45:20
Alright friends, well – until next time, take care of yourselves, take care of each other, and we’ll see you beyond the sectors. Bye, guys.

Ana 45:27
Bye.

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