'The Nightsilver Promise' Book Club: Day 1

By: OwlCrate Jr

Photo by @a.o.tales

"We’re all cursed, Dax. We’re all trapped in our tracks. But you know what? I refuse to be ruled by mine or let you be stuck in yours."

Welcome to day one of our book club read-along for OwlCrate Jr's November book, The Nightsilver Promise by Annaliese Avery! This read-along was written by Cheryl of And Other Tales, a fantastic book and lifestyle blog.

Just a reminder that this will be a SPOILER FILLED discussion for Chapters 1-12 of The Nightsilver Promise. Discussion questions are listed below, and anyone who participates in the comments will be entered to win a free OwlCrate Jr box per post!

Take it away, Cheryl!

The story so far . . .

Chapter 1: Destiny Calling

We open our tale in a steampunk alternate London on a cold winter day as our young heroine, Paisley Fitzwilliam, is making her way to the Mechanist Chapel to receive her track — her life’s destiny. Everyone in Alberion receives a tattoo’d star imprint of their destiny on their inner wrist as a small child and will grow up with the complete knowledge of their life track, as dictated by the Chief Designer. However, for some reason Paisley, at age 13, has only now received her summons.

Entering the grand Chapel she pauses to marvel at the Doom — a brightly painted scene revealing the two ancient teachings of the Chief Designer. One scene tells the story of how the breath of the Great Dragons made the sun and the light, and how the Chief Designer invented night so the stars could guide the people. The second scene depicts the punishment and banishment of the Great Dragons for turning away from the Chief Designer.

Hoping that she’ll be an explorer and follow in her beloved late father’s footsteps, Paisley places the small copper disk from her summons letter inside the schematica — the elegant Celestial Mechanism that is responsible for reading each citizen's individual destiny and tattooing said destiny upon their wrist. But when the machine reads her destiny and tattoos her stars upon her, Paisley can immediately see something is different: her scattering of stars form a semi-circle pattern, rather than the common full circle. Even worse, the paper print-out reveals Paisley will suffer great losses in her life and will not have long to travel, for she is destined to die before the end of her fourteenth birthday!

Chapter 2: Here Be Dragons

Paisley wanders the streets dazed and heartbroken, but resolves to keep this secret from her mother and brother Dax. In her bewildered and distracted state, she doesn’t notice the boy who knocks into her and steals her destiny parchment from her pocket.

Snapping back to reality, Paisley finds herself in a disturbing scene — a shop girl being dragged from her store amid rumors she is Dragon Touched. Paisley steps forward to help the terrified girl as those around her shout insults and call for the girl to be killed, when suddenly the shop girl opens her mouth unnaturally wide and lets out a mighty roar that causes them all to black out! When Paisley awakens, the girl has escaped.

Meanwhile, we meet Roach (the boy who stole Paisley’s parchment) navigating the tunnels beneath the city, determined to deliver the parchment to his master — a girl who looks no older than ten, but is “as ancient as the dragon teeth that adorn her throne.” She calls herself the Dark Dragon . . . What does she want with Paisley’s destiny?

Chapter 3: Dragon Touch

As Paisley returns to the comfort of home, filled with the delicious scents of freshly baked gingerbread, she finds her brother Dax in the library, deeply engrossed in studying an array of maps and atlases. The siblings are fascinated by the Amerikas — the lands to the west — where the Great Dragons fled after they were purged from Alberion by King George I. The people of Alberion hold great fear for those born with dragon blood, the Dragon Touched. Everyone knows of the great prophecy stating a dragon-touched boy will call forth the Great Dragon Malgol and destroy the Celestial Mechanism.

As the siblings pour over maps and talk dragons, Dax, who walks with the help of a brace, cries out in pain. Paisley rushes to his bag to retrieve his healing ointment to rub on his leg . . . his leg that is covered in blackened green scales! Is Dax the prophesied dragon-touched boy!?

Chapter 4: The Day of Small Turnings

It’s Christmas in London — or The Day of Small Turnings — the shortest day of the year where citizens exchange gifts and eat festive food. Dax and Paisley are building an Orrery, a mini working replica of the Heavens made of brass that shows the path of the planets and their moons all powered by a Fire Diamond . . . a super cool Christmas present indeed!

Their Uncle Hector arrives and gives both Paisley and Dax a small, mechanical dragon made of brass, copper, and nightshade. They discuss the unrest in the Northern realms, which continues to lack electrica power after someone stole their Soul Fire stone. The citizens blame King George and are threatening war.

With no time to discuss further, it’s time to attend their mother, Dr. Violetta Fitzwilliam’s, great science presentation at the Institute of Celestial Mechanics.

Chapter 5: All The Stars In Motion

Returning to Roach beneath the streets of London, in the secret underground War Room of the Dark Dragon . . .

The images on these walls tell a different creation story than those of the Chapel above ground. Here, it shows how the First Dragon, Anu, helped the Chief Designer forge the heavens and gave her breath to the stars. Tirelessly she worked until she fell, exhausted, to Earth, forming a great landmass. Her children, the Great Dragons, shared the Earth with its inhabitants, until one man banished them all.

We join Roach (also called the Master of Mischief) having a meeting with the Master of Stars (who can read the future) and the Dark Dragon herself. The Master of Stars reveals the Dark Dragon is close to attaining her goal: gain enough power to steal the stars from their tracks and place them where she wishes, fulfilling the destiny the Great Dragon Anu entrusted her with. The key to her goal is Paisley’s mother and her scientific findings.

Chapter 6: The Dragon In The Machine

A large crowd has gathered at The Institute of Celestial Mechanics to hear Paisley’s mother’s speech.

Corbett, Dr. Fitzwilliam’s assistant, wheels out a large Orrery and Violetta informs the gathering that the comet Wolstenholme — a topic of great discussion among the people of Alberion — is manipulatable by her machine and she has been able to set it on a new track. Her experiments prove that they can forge new tracks for objects anywhere outside or within the Celestial Mechanism. If true, Paisley and Dax wouldn’t have to fulfill their destinies . . . they could create new ones ungoverned by their stars!

Chapter 7: The Men Of The Yard

Everyone returns home after the big reveal, but Paisley’s mother has to stay behind to run a few more tests. Strangely, Uncle Hector seems upset that Violetta didn’t reveal her plans to him, saying he could have warned her . . . what could that mean?

Later that night there is a loud knocking on the door, and Paisley sees that it is the Men of the Yard and assuming they are here to grab Dax like the dragon-touched girl in the market, she quickly whisks him away into their secret passageway, saying she’ll meet him in the safe room soon.

But the Men of the Yard aren’t here to take Dax, instead they deliver the devastating news that there was an explosion at Violetta’s lab after the presentation and she was killed. Paisley is confident that this was no accident.

Chapter 8: The Darkness of Dreams

Meandering once again through the unpleasantness of the London underground sewer tunnels, Roach finds the Dark Dragon in a small room full of copper pipes and pressure gauges used to open and close valves of the underground sewers.

She informs Roach that the professor was actually in possession of a Heart Stone, which she would’ve used to run her experiment. The Dark Dragon wants Roach to sneak into the Fitzwilliam house, search for the Heart Stone and steal it . . . just like he did the Soul Fire, which you’ll remember is the source of the great conflict in the North, that the Northerners blame on King George.

Chapter 9: Nightsilver Promises

Paisley is unable to sleep as she’s heartbroken over the loss of her mother and terrified of leaving Dax behind if she cannot change her track before her next birthday. Wide awake, Paisley sees someone in the garden through the window. Dashing downstairs and armed with her father’s Nightsilver sword, she silently creeps outside and hits the intruder over the head . . . only to realize it is Corbett, her mother’s assistant. Paisley helps him inside and once he comes to, Corbett tells her he doesn’t think Violetta is actually dead! Violetta’s pocket watch, which is also made of Nightsilver (a combination of special metal and the blood of the objects’ owner), is still warm. If she was dead, then her watch should be cold!

Chapter 10: Dark Acts

As Paisley was distracted attacking and then talking with Corbett, Roach is easily able to sneak inside unseen. As he is exploring the house in search of the Heart Stone, he stumbles upon a sleeping Dax and sees that he is Dragon Touched . . . just like Roach’s sister Clara. Turns out Roach is working for the Dark Dragon in the hope that she will be able to free his little sister!

Chapter 11: Discovery of Dragons

Cautiously optimistic, Paisley and Corbett decide not to tell anyone their theory regarding Violetta. They form a list of potential suspects:

  • Arch Architect Harman, Head of Imperial Mechanists, who believes Violetta’s findings are blasphemous.
  • Guy Tennyson, Master of Greenwich Overhead — the floating borough of London that the Institute of Celestial Mechanics is located upon, who was never welcoming of Violetta and is jealous of her comet discovery.
  • Dr. Derek Langley, Dragonologist, who didn’t want Violetta to build her machine.
  • And Uncle Hector, who went to Violetta after the presentation and was very angry at her findings.

Even more surprising is the revelation that Paisley’s father was a Dragonology scholar before becoming a knight and marrying her mother.

Chapter 12: A Cogless Fool

Leaving Dax, Roach breaks into Violetta’s safe in her office but the Heart Stone is not there. Instead he finds a deposit slip for the Dragon Vault. There is no breaking in without the help of one of the Fitzwilliam children . . . So off he goes to kidnap Dax! There is a great struggle between Roach and Dax as they race through the secret passageway and up into the attic, involving mechanical cogroaches and crashing suits of armour, but Roach is determined to kidnap Dax and fulfill his duty to the Dark Dragon in order to save his sister!

Discussion Questions:

  1. I love steampunk setting and especially the little mechanical dragon spies! What have been some of your favourite steampunk elements in this story so far?
  2. Which creation story do you believe is most true — the one depicted on the walls of the Chapel or the one in the war room of the Dark Dragon?
  3. Who do you think betrayed Violetta?
  4. Roach is fuelled by the belief that the Dark Dragon will save his sister if he helps her. Do you believe this will happen? Do you trust the Dark Dragon?

See you again on Wednesday as we discuss Chapters 13 - 25!

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