Study Guide

Blood Red Road Chapter 1

By Moira Young

Chapter 1


  • It's hot out in Silverlake today, wherever that is. Pa has been working hard on his "charms and spells" ever since the drought started six months back (1.4).
  • The narrator explains that Pa has been different ever since Ma died. He doesn't treat their youngest sister Emmi like he treated her and Lugh when they were kids.
  • While Lugh repairs the roof of their house, the narrator plays with her best friend Nero. Nero, as it happens, is not a Roman emperor, but a crow. The pair can communicate somehow.
  • Emmi tries to help out, but the narrator coldly tells her to get her butt moving. This is apparently her thing. Also, her name is Saba. We're learning so much.
  • Meanwhile, Pa is stomping out some sort of sacred circle in the field. He calls to Lugh and Saba to come help him out.
  • Annoyed by his father's superstitions, Lugh runs over ranting and smashes Pa's makeshift altar. He calls him "crazy" and runs off (1.57).
  • Saba finds Lugh "at Ma's rock garden" (1.64). We learn that Ma died soon after giving birth to Emmi due to medical complications. That might explain Saba's anger toward her little sis.
  • Lugh tells Saba that he wants to leave Silverlake. Given that they live in the middle of a wasteland, however, and that their only neighbor is some weirdo named Procter John who uses a drug called chaal, that's going to be a lot easier said than done.
  • Side-note: both siblings have a "birthmoon tattoo" on their right cheekbones to honor their birth in midwinter (1.121). Pa apparently moonlights on L.A. Ink.
  • After skipping stones, the kids head home. But something bad is headed their way: a massive dust storm.
  • Lugh and Saba begin sprinting back home and shouting for Pa and Emmi to take cover. It's too late, however, and the storm overtakes them. Saba is almost struck by lightning.
  • But then something even scarier happens: five "men on horses appear" (1.208). Given how rarely the family sees anyone, this is a big deal.
  • As the men approach, Saba notices that one of them is Procter John. The other men point at Lugh and ask John if he's the eighteen-year-old kid born at midwinter. John says yup.
  • Procter John scurries off and the other four dudes start chasing Lugh, who rightly deduced that something bad was up and turned tail.
  • Saba runs over to get Pa's help. Oddly, Pa starts talking as if he knew that this was going to happen and rambles about how there's no way to avoid it.
  • Suddenly, Pa springs into action. He and Saba launch arrows like they've had one-on-one lessons with Legolas. Which just so happens to have been our dream last night, but that's another story for another time.
  • Before they can free Lugh, however, Pa is shot with a bolt shooter by one of the riders. Saba hulks out and tries to kill the baddies, but they just take Lugh and leave.
  • Both Emmi and Saba are devastated and have no idea what to do next. They decide to turn the house into a makeshift pyre and burn the whole thing down.
  • After everything's set up, Saba tells Emmi that she's going after the guys who kidnapped Lugh. She's going to drop Emmi off with a family friend named Mercy on the way. Emmi wants to come along, but Saba is adamantly opposed to the idea.
  • The kids light the house on fire and leave.