Do you like breadcrumbs?
I do. Not necessarily the kind you put on casserole, although I do like those too.
I’m talking about the breadcrumbs you find in books. No, no, not the kind that come from eating cookies in bed while binging your latest unputdownable read.
But I do like those too. Anyone hungry?
I’m getting way off topic.
Breadcrumbs are what I call the hints writers weave into their stories that pave the way for later revelations.
They are the tiny clues that something isn’t quite right. Or that MAYBE things aren’t what they seem. Or that something seemingly unimportant will come into play later.
They are the kind of details that you only notice when you read a book for the second or third time, with the new eyes of someone who knows what will happen.
Whenever I find these details in books I love, I get CHILLS.
I’ve been planning the Lela Trilogy for over a decade, so I’ve known some key events needed to happen from the start. There is a lot of foreshadowing in Shadows of Lela that paves the way for the rest of the trilogy.
And lots of teeny tiny breadcrumbs that leads to other revelations in SOL itself.
And guess what…most of my readers haven’t caught them yet!
So today I’m sharing with you my FIVE FAVORITE breadcrumbs from Shadows of Lela and where you can find them. Are you ready?
WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS FOR SHADOWS OF LELA! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!
(NOTE: All images below found on Pinterest. You can see more of my character inspiration on my Pinterest Board for Shadows of Lela here.)
1.) MARELEAU’S MOOD
Chapter 9 GOODBYES
Mareleau’s mother barges into her room to tell her her three suitors have left on the Quest. Mareleau is always known to be sassy, but she’s extra petulant…and even somewhat defeated…in this chapter.
The breadcrumbs: These are SO subtle, I’m sure you thought nothing of them when you first read this chapter. But here they are…Mareleau rubs her eyes and sits up as soon her mother walks in.
As the conversation starts, she stuffs three pieces of chocolate into her mouth at once (you’ll see in Veil of Mist that she seems to crave chocolate when distressed.) When the argument with her mother continues, she keeps quiet because she doesn’t have it in her. Not today.
Why doesn’t she have it in her today, specifically?
Well, she’d recently sent a letter to Larylis: All you need to know is that I can’t love you.
At this point, the reader assumes she’s being dismissive, but we much later learn more. Mare actually thinks she can never be with Lare, but doesn’t want him to know her true feelings.
So, as you can imagine, writing that letter was traumatic for her. Even Larylis mentions (in the same chapter) how her letter had been “carelessly scrawled and stained with water.”
Yeah, it was stained with water. Because she was CRYING. She didn’t write the letter sent to Teryn, her mother had it written for her by a scribe, while Mareleau wrote the letter to Larylis herself, which broke her heart.
When her mother comes in, she’s still distraught, and has been crying. THAT’S why she rubbed her eyes. THAT’S why she wants chocolate. THAT’S why she felt too defeated to argue.
2.) TERYN’S UNCONSCIOUS KNOWS WHAT’S UP
Chapter 10 THE HUNT
If you look for clues, it’s obvious Teryn never loved Mareleau. He explains more about his misguided desire to Larylis in Veil of Mist, but if you look closely, you can see it in SOL. He never says he loves her, only that he THINKS he does, and seems flustered whenever asked directly if he loves her (see his conversation with Lex in this same chapter), and only talks about her looks when he reflects on what he likes about her.
That doesn’t sound like love at all, right?
But I left a breadcrumb that deep down he knew Mareleau never loved HIM.
The breadcrumb: this is a tiny one, but I enjoyed adding it. At the end of Chapter Ten, Teryn has a dream about Mareleau. He’s dreaming about the moment he first saw her on her balcony at the poetry contest. He thinks she’s looking at him, then realizes she’s looking through him, or somewhere in the distance. There’s nothing he can do to get her attention. Why?
Because she’s looking for Larylis. At the poetry contest, he was hauled away. That’s why her eyes are searching the distance behind him in the dream. Even though he doesn’t realize it outright, his unconscious knows that Mareleau isn’t meant to be his.
3.) CORA ESCAPES THE DUNGEON
Chapter 26 APOLOGY
In this chapter, we find Cora and Teryn trapped in the dungeon. Cora’s powers have been blocked until now, aside from a surprising burst of magic she used against Morkai. Wondering if her powers have returned, she tries to use them on the bars of the cell.
The breadcrumbs: she goes to try to use her powers on the door…and it opens. Easily. Too easy?
In fact, once she’s free, she finds all the doors leading to her escape are ajar, and wonders how she could possibly be doing this.
Well…she wasn’t. Cora escaping had nothing to do with her own powers. It had everything to do with her brother. That’s right. Dimetreus helped her escape.
More breadcrumbs: last we see Dimetreus before this, he puts Cora into her cell. Teryn confronts him and tells him he should be protecting her. While Dimetreus argues that Morkai told him not to trust Cora, Teryn says, “But he didn’t tell you not to trust me.” After this Teryn hears him shut Cora in her cell. But there’s no mention that he hears the door being locked. Before Dimetreus leaves, Teryn begs him to believe him. Dimetreus says he doesn’t have to believe anyone.
Anyone? Does that include…Morkai? Yep. Teryn telling Dimetreus that Morkai never said not to trustTeryn was kind of a loophole through Morkai’s control and was the beginning of freeing Dimetreus’ mind. Dimetreus still has a long way to go after this, but some former version of himself is emerging, because HE was the one who didn’t lock the cell. HE was the one who left her an escape route out of the castle.
Dimetreus freed Cora.
4.) DIMETREUS’ EYES
Chapter 27 Interlude
Which brings us to the next breadcrumb. Here, Morkai is questioning the guards, trying to find out who was on watch when Cora escaped. Turned out it was…yep…Dimetreus.
The breadcrumbs: Morkai asks Dimetreus if he locked her cell. His previous answers are short and fast, but before he answers this one, he hesitates, eyes flashing to Teryn before he says yes.
This is when Teryn realizes Dimetreus’ eyes are green, and not a dull black as he’d previously thought. This is an important breadcrumb!
The first time we see this color change is in the very first chapter when Cora is exiled. She notices her brother’s eyes appear hard and black, with hardly any of the green she’s used to seeing. At the end of SOL when Dimetreus snaps out of Morkai’s control completely at Centerpointe Rock, Cora sees his eyes have become vibrant green again.
Dimetreus’ eye color was a breadcrumb, not only hinting that he was slowly loosening from Morkai’s control, but that he had willingly allowed Cora to escape the dungeon.
5.) HE WHO CONTAINS THE MAGIC
Chapter 30 ANCESTORS
After escaping the dungeon, Cora returns to the Forest People to get their help to fight Morkai. When she talks to Salinda, she discovers the Forest People have a deeper insight into Morkai’s motive.
The breadcrumbs: Salinda shares what she knows about a war amongst the Ancient Ones (something that you discover more about in Veil of Mist as well as BOOK THREE)
She mentions that Morkai isn’t the first to try to claim the magic. BUT she assures Cora that it is known that he who contains the Ancient magic for himself can only be destroyed by it.
In Veil of Mist, our heroes learn this is actually part of an ancient prophecy. The words of the prophecy are, “He who harnesses the magic will be destroyed by it.” These words led Morkai to create the Roizan, a creature meant to be a channel between himself and the magic, which he thought would prevent him from getting destroyed by the magic.
What he didn’t forsee, was that he would be destroyed by the Roizan itself. That’s right, the Roizan KILLED him at Centerpointe Rock. So even though he never even got a chance to use the Roizan to harness the magic, he was still destroyed by the very thing he thought would prevent the prophecy from coming true.
As a proper self-fulfilling prophecy, the act of harnessing the magic still destroyed him.
How did you like those five facts?
There are plenty more, some are easier to find, some are subtle like the ones above. Some, you probably discovered the first time you read SOL. Like the animosity between Mareleau and her father. After you read the chapter Confession, it makes a lot more sense. Even some things she said to her father about Teryn have deeper context after that.
If you read my short story prequel, Princess of Thorns, you’ll find even more details foreshadowing her secret dedication to Larylis, her lack of female friends, and her animosity toward Cora in Veil of Mist.
In fact, the biggest breadcrumb ever was left in Princess of Thorns, but I can’t tell you about it yet because it contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Book Three! You’ll just have to wait until it releases (summer 2019!!!)
Until next time, happy reading!
For more bonus content, visit the World of Lela.