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Temper
By Nicky Drayden

Discussed April 2019

Buy Temper from Amazon.com

Abridged Dramatis Personae

Family:

  • Auben Mtuze
  • Kasim Mtuze
  • Chimwe
  • Chiso
  • Daia
  • Cisse
  • Yeboah
  • Pabio

Friends and Enemies:

  • Nkosazana
  • Ruda
  • Gueye Okahim
  • Munashe
  • Sesay
  • Daki
  • Phila Kumalo

Gods and Demons:

  • Grace
  • Icy Blue

Questions

  1. Did you finish the book?
  2. Did you like the book?
  3. Auben, the protagonist of Temper, has six vices—and that's before he's possessed by the demon Icy Blue and starts engaging in truly murderous behavior. Did you find him sympathetic? Did that change at different points in the story?
  4. Temper is told from Auben's first person point of view—except when he shape shifts into Ruda's form and it shifts to third person. Did you enjoy his voice, or would you have preferred a different or more varied point of view? Did the third person sections work for you?
  5. Temper jumps rapidly from one scheme to another, and, after the ritual to separate Auben from Kasim is completed, makes a significant timeskip into the future. Did you enjoy the fast pacing, or want the book to slow down?
  6. In Temper, we're told every character has certain vices and certain virtues. Did you feel the way the characters acted reflected the described attributes? In the final section of the book, it's revealed that the city of vice thrives while the city of virtue disintegrates. Did you find this compatible with the way vices and virtues were presented elsewhere in the novel?
  7. While Auben spends significant portions of the book lusting after Nkosazana (and other female characters), the central relationships in Temper are familial: Auben and Kasim's sibling bond, Auben's fraught connection with his mother, and the various ties within their extended family. Did you enjoy the familial focus? How did you feel about Auben's final confrontation with his mother? Did you find her a sympathetic character?
  8. A significant percentage of the population of Temper is intersex, including Auben's half siblings, Chimwe and Chiso. How did you feel about the way the book handled both intersex characters and the prejudice against them? Were you surprised when Sesay was revealed to be a trans woman?
  9. Drayden has said that the city in Temper is based on Cape Town, South Africa, and that the architecture described is largely from that city as well. The Ottoman Empire exists and is referenced by name. Did you think of Temper as being set in an alternative history of our own world or in an entirely secondary world? Did you mentally map any of the other places referenced to places in our own world?
  10. In one interview, Drayden said, "I wanted to tell a story of an African continent that escaped the ills of colonization, but the story that came out of me wasn’t what I had imagined. This world is full of oppression and injustice, of dark secrets and hidden hopes." Would you have preferred a more hopeful milieu? Does reading about a world with distinct but equally strong prejudices feel different from reading about a world whose prejudices map to those of our own society? How?
  11. Did you read Drayden's debut novel, Prey of Gods, which Lambda SciFi discussed in September? How would you compare the two books?

The vices:

  • Vainglory
  • Envy
  • Duplicity
  • Doubt
  • Lechery
  • Greed
  • Temper

The virtues:

  • Humility
  • Conscience
  • Sincerity
  • Chastity
  • Due Diligence
  • Charity
  • Grace
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