Mark Reads ‘In the Hand of the Goddess’: Chapter 10 – To Duel The Sorcerer

In the tenth chapter of In the Hand of the Goddess, Alanna finally confronts Duke Roger in the most badass way possible. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read In the Hand of the Goddess.

Chapter Ten: To Duel The Sorcerer

Look at that chapter title.

I had a lot of fun reading this because one of my fabulous readers commissioned me to read all of chapter ten for a Mark Reads video. This circumstance got me appreciating this chapter a whole lot more than I might have if I’d just read it like a normal person. It’s written particularly well to be read aloud, as Pierce’s understanding of tension and drama comes across in “To Duel The Sorcerer.”

What’s so fantastic to me is that Alanna’s battle with the Duke of Conté is both mental and physical, and that’s what surprised me. Her entire confrontation of him in front of everyone is so bold, ridiculous, and frightening. I didn’t expect this at all. Part of that is because I assumed the same problem Alanna had faced throughout the story – that she never had proof – would continue to plague her. Sure, she found a way to break into Duke Roger’s room, but I assumed she’d get caught. Hell, that part of this chapter had all the signs of BAD IDEA written all over it. She closed herself within Roger’s room twice, and Faithful came with her to the workroom instead of acting as a lookout. THIS WILL BE A DISASTER, I thought.

BUT IT WASN’T. Wait, I mean it was, considering what Alanna found in that room. Oh my god, Duke Roger has been MESSING WITH EVERYONE. The fact that so many of these characters refused to act on their suspicions (or didn’t even have suspicions) WAS A GODDAMN PLOT POINT AND I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW THIS. Holy shit, what an awesome twist.

It’s made even better, though, by the fact that this chapter features Alanna decided that the time is now. Her urgency is what gives this chapter its strength. Multiple times, we see how she refuses to wait and let the world pass her by. It’s why she reacts the way she does when she realizes that the Queen is terribly sick. It’s why she reasons that breaking into Roger’s room now is the best option for her. It’s why she then takes the proof that Roger has been manipulating all of them – mentally and physically – AND LITERALLY GIVES IT TO THE KING IN FRONT OF ALL HIS SUBJECTS. I can’t. I CAN’T. It’s so direct, and y’all know how much I love it when characters/stories are upfront and honest.

But I think this is also a sign of Alanna conquering her last fear. Yes, her confrontation of Duke Roger is certainly about the love she has for her friends, and that’s an important theme that I don’t want to ignore. But it’s easy to see that she wants to just be herself, to put herself before these people and stop the masquerade. I’m surprised I didn’t figure this out before Roger accidentally cut her clothes off her when they battled.

Well, I’m getting ahead of myself. I adored that Alanna’s friends literally had her back as she approached the king and plainly laid out the dolls she’d collected from Roger’s workroom. I adored that she straight-up admitted that she’d been dishonorable in acquiring these things. She didn’t even try to hide this! She opened up with it!

Despite that the evidence was pretty damning, I actually don’t fault the King for giving Roger his right of combat. He’s following the rules of chivlary, I imagine, and doing what he thinks is right given the circumstances. I mean, it can’t be easy to hear that your closest advisor is trying to kill you and everyone you love and respect. Plus, there was a part of me that wanted to see Roger and Alanna fight, so I am being selfish by enjoying this.

I also expected that Roger would employ some method of cheating. He was desperate to prove that he was “right” so that it would look like he was telling the truth. Plus, he was well aware of how talented Alanna was with a sword. Still, I was shocked by how violent and brutal their combat was. Both of them suffer some fairly serious wounds. Oh, and Roger is a DIRTY CHEATER. Ugh, I dislike him so much!

But the real moment climax of this chapter (and this book!) is the moment when Roger cuts away Alanna’s clothes, and the entire court discovers she’s a girl. In that moment, things could have gone in so many directions, but Thom steps up to gloriously explain the situation and support his sister. OMG TWINS ARE THE BEST, AREN’T THEY? I know this from experience.

And I know this is about Alanna’s quest to do good, but I thought it was very significant that in the moment her truth is laid out for all to see, she suddenly has the resolve to fight Duke Roger. To me, she’s been freed. She’s had this horrible burden lifted from her, and it doesn’t matter if King Roald hates her for it, she can’t regret what she did. That catharsis provides her with the fury and determination to BRUTALLY KILL DUKE ROGER IN A MATTER OF SECONDS. 

She looked up. Everyone in the chamber – even Jonathan, even Thom – stared at her with some kind of horror. For a minute she was afraid of herself.

She had killed the king’s nephew. She had killed her greatest enemy, the most powerful sorcerer in the Eastern Lads.

HOLY. SHIT. Incredible. What an incredible end to this story. Well, yes, there’s still an epilogue, but I’m so happy with how this was resolved. Plus, Pierce didn’t ignore the emotional weight of this sort of violence. IT’S JUST SO GOOD.

Now enjoy me reading this chapter for the first time. IT’S A TREAT. There is lots of giggling. Thanks to Kate for commissioning this chapter!

Part 1

Part 2

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About Mark Reads

Vegan cyclist, Internet community nerd, atheist bookworm, high-five purveyor.
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