A Simon Pulse Guide for Reading Groups
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The Farsala Trilogy Book #1: Fall of a Kingdom
By Hilari Bell About the Book
They are three people who -- on the surface -- appear to have nothing in common. Each has a different background, different expectations, and a different place in society: an aristocrat, a soldier, and a thief whose lives will become inextricably intertwined by fate. For as their country prepares to do battle against an enemy that wishes to conquer Farsala, these three will have a part to play in the machinations of politics and war. And each of these three must decide where they stand...and what they stand for. Discussion Questions
1. Why is Jiaan's lineage so important, both to him and those around him? In what ways does it help him and in what ways does it hinder him? How would his life have been different if he'd been born to a different deghan?
2. Soraya was born into a position of wealth and power. How does this affect the way she interacts with others? How does the fact that she is female impact her social standing? Do other people view her the way she expects them to?
3. Kavi does not define his place in society in the same way that the other characters define their own. How do you think this is connected to his background and occupation? What benefits might there be for him in defining himself so loosely? Are there any drawbacks?
4. What do each of the three main characters -- Jiaan, Soraya, and Kavi -- love? What do they dislike? How do these loyalties affect the choices they make?
5. Why are the Hrum attacking Farsala? What factors work against the armies of Farsala in this war? How does the Hrum timeline help and hinder each side?
6. What role does Jiaan play in the war? What about Soraya? And Kavi? How do their respective roles change and why?
7. Discuss the social structure of the people of Farsala. What privileges come with being a deghan? How do the lower classes feel about the deghans? Do you agree with Patrius' claim that the Farsalan people would benefit from a Hrum victory?
8. What makes the Suud people different from the Farsalans? To what or whom are they loyal? Why do they accept Soraya into their tribe?
9. Although most of the people of Farsala claim to no longer believe in magic and djinns, they are mentioned often -- Soraya is sacrificed to satisfy the djinns, bad behavior is blamed on them, the Suuds are thought to be descended from them. Why do you think djinns are so prevalent in their daily life? Do you agree that the Farsalans no longer believe in magic?
10. Why do you think that the story of Sorahb is interjected into the main story? Why do you think we are given this tale in pieces instead of all at once? Activities
1. Most of the characters in the story are accomplished archers and swordsmen. Find out if there is someplace in your community where you can learn to fence or shoot a bow and arrow. Estimate how long it would take you to become good enough to hold your own with Jiaan or Soraya.
2. Kavi was an apprentice to a weapon-smith until his hand was injured. Choose some aspect of metalwork -- blacksmithing or working with a specific metal such as gold or iron -- and research it." Try to find out about the history, techniques, and technological advances of the field.
3. Soraya is shocked by the theatrical elements of her appearance before the ghan. Choose a section of the book to dramatize, using lighting tricks or other theatrical techniques.
4. The first battle between the Farsalans and the Hrum involves a great deal of planning on both sides. Study some famous historical battles to learn some of the strategy and logic that goes into planning a war. Perhaps you can play a game like Risk
that requires you to stage a battle.
5. The Suud mark their passage into adulthood with a sophisticated version of hide-and-seek that proves their hunting and hiding skills are equal to the standards of the tribe. Organize this same sort of hide-and-seek event with your friends to see who is the best hunter and who is good at hiding. Those who are being "hunted" should try to be as elaborate in their methods of escaping detection as the Suud would be.
6. Kavi secretly learns the language of the Hrum so that he is not dependent upon a translator to know what is happening to him. Choose a language that you would like to speak and study it.
7. Hilari Bell plans to write two more books about Jiaan, Soraya, and Kavi. What do you think will happen to them? Create an outline for each character that tells what you think they will do in the upcoming war and how you think their lives will turn out. Read the next two books and compare your predictions to what really happens.
This reading group guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.