In the second chapter of In the Hand of the Goddess, Alanna fights someone way older and more experienced than her for Jonathan, and then I HAVE BEEN TRICKED. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read In the Hand of the Goddess.
Chapter II: Duke Roger of Conté
We need to discuss three really important things.
1) Oh, Faithful can actually talk to Alanna.
I thought Pierce was being facetious!!! No, when Faithful meows, Alanna can hear an actually voice. Everyone else hears meows. This is FUCKING INCREDIBLE, and now I want my own personal talking black cat. Thanks. (I do own twin Siamese cats, but one has a broken voicebox and can’t meow right at all. It’s mostly a squeak. The other one just SHRIEKS her love at me, and I’d much prefer it in my language THANKS I’M A TOTAL CAT BIGOT.)
2) Alanna fights Dain and EVERYTHING IS FANTASTIC.
Right off the top, I loved that Pierce had Alanna lose initially. I don’t doubt Alanna’s skill as a fighter, but she was up against someone who was bigger, more experienced, and more desperate to win. While the Mother stated that Alanna had only three big fears, I’d argue that she has plenty more. Her issues with her own gender are only amplified when she has to worry about whether she’s going to be a good knight or not. While she fights against Dain out of a mixture of pride and duty, I still think she’s concerned with proving to herself that she belongs in the knighthood. She puts up a good fight against Dain, but in a moment of vulnerability, she wipes sweat from her eye and Dain goes for the kill, stabbing her in the arm.
However, when Dain doesn’t stop the fight, as the codes of chivalry dictate, this fight becomes something else. This moment is what helps Alanna grow, and Pierce is brilliant for writing it this way. Alanna is a rebellious young woman, that much is true. And here she is, fighting to uphold a rule that holds this society together. Now, that doesn’t mean she’s just going to sit there and ACCEPT WHATEVER LIFE GIVES HER. Instead, I read this as her defense of the structure of knighthood. She respects this world she’s a part. She understands the way it works, and this outsider is fucking that up because he can’t control his anger AT SOMEONE HE PERCEIVES TO BE A YOUNG MAN.
Even when she does beat him fairly, she doesn’t kill him, even though it would have been 100% justified by the code they all live by. She still shows him mercy, and this leads Myles to basically weep at her feet later. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but come on, he is totally being all fatherly to her, and I’m pretty sure he cried and wrote in his diary later that evening. As he should!
Ugh, so many feelings for Myles.
3) Duke Roger is evil.
OH MY GOD, SO TAMORA PIERCE DOESN’T EVEN BOTHER MAKING THIS A MYSTERY ANYMORE BECAUSE SHE JUST DECIDES TO DROP IN AN ENTIRE POV SECTION WHERE DUKE ROGER TELLS US ALL HIS THOUGHTS. No, I can’t deal with this at all. I THOUGHT SHE WOULD DRAG THIS OUT FOR THE REST OF THE BOOK.
Nope! Instead, Pierce lays it all out for us, narrating from Duke Roger’s point of view, revealing that all of Alanna and Thom’s suspicions are true. HE IS TOTALLY EVIL, AND NOW WE KNOW 100%, AND I JUST BARELY STARTED THE BOOK. Not only is he trying to get the throne, he tried to kill Jonathan twice, he knows Alanna is lying about her powers, and he knows Faithful isn’t a normal cat. Thankfully, he hasn’t figured out that Alanna is a girl, but damn it, the day he does, THIS IS ALL GOING TO HEll.
This is a very short chapter, but good gods, it packs a punch. I expected none of this.
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