In the third chapter of The Woman Who Rides Like A Man, Alanna struggles with the frustrating cultural mores that the shaman has put upon his people. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Woman Who Rides Like A Man.
Chapter 3: Bazhir Shaman
Okay, I think I’m okay with this development? About halfway through writing the review for yesterday’s Feed chapter, I realized that the Voice was saying that a non-Bazhir would be ruler of ALL the Bazhir. While it’s clear that the group admits new members if they prove themselves, this seemed like a bit of a stretch. But when Ali began to explain why this needed to happen, I noticed that he brought up the concept of balance once again. It’s something that’s common throughout this chapter, and it helped keep me engaged with the idea of Jonathan becoming the Voice. This is not about Jonathan conquering the Bazhir and assimilating them into his Kingdom. Rather, the way Ali speaks about this possible future, it’s clear that this is about the preservation of the Bazhir way of life. I’m all too sure about the logistics of this. Does this mean that Jonathan would be king of Tortall, and then the Bazhir would simply be a part of Tortall, too? Or would Jonathan have to give up his aspirations of being king in exchange for this? It seems like it’s the former, honestly, and I’m intrigued to see if this could really happen.
And so Coram leaves Alanna and the Bazhir, accompanied by Hakim Fahrar on his journey back to Corus. The choice is ultimately up to Jonathan, but I don’t doubt Ali’s insistence that Jonathan won’t turn down power of this magnitude. Oh shit, I guess that the world of the Court is going to be away long, is it? I mean, given the thieves that are caught later, clearly that whole world is going to come back in a big way.
But I’ll get to that in a bit. I really think my opinions of Akhnan Ibn Nazzir have changed with this chapter. It’s fascinating to me that coming into this, I was so worried about how the Bazhir were portrayed. But as I’ve spent more time with them, it seems that all their problems come back to one dude, not their culture. To me, that is a very important distinction. Pierce does not say that there’s anything wrong with women wearing veils. She doesn’t ascribe the poor treatment of Kara, Ishak, and Kourrem to cultural ideals. Akhnan’s characterization is far more about his fanatical interpretation of his own beliefs. I’m not comfortable saying it’s a religion, since there isn’t enough evidence to prove that. But whatever it is that Akhnan does believe, he’s so certain about it that he has no qualms about doing a Gate of Idramm, risking the entire tribe in the process. Unless I get any evidence otherwise, I’m starting to believe that Akhnan genuinely thinks he’s right. He is so set in his ways that it’s absurd to him that anyone can disagree with him.
Take for example his treatment of the three young Bazhir who have grown close to Alanna. Gammal, the blacksmith who tries to help Alanna mend Lightning, opens up about how terribly Akhnan treats those three children. I’d known that they were magical in a sense, but here, he details just how powerful they are – and how little control they have – when it comes to magic. The worst part? Akhnan does not believe in the Gift. The children are cursed in his mind. Look at the way he speaks to Alanna, too. He is constantly saying that she is corrupting those around her with lust and filth. I don’t think it’s at all incorrect to state that Akhnan’s fury is rooted in a deep and dangerous misogyny. He even turns that hatred upon any man who apparently supports Alanna, even going as far as insulting the Voice. It’s the man’s ultimate downfall, too. He’s unable to realize just how deep he’s dug his grave until it’s too late.
But before that final confrontation, Halef Seif confronts Alanna nearly a week after this when two of George’s thieves are caught spying on Alanna. Hahaha, George, you aren’t even subtle about your undying love for Alanna. He’s in a “temper” now that she’s gone. Oh god, how much do you want to bet that Jonathan is reacting the same way? Men are so adorable.
“Tell George I’m well and content,” Alanna added as ‘Fingers and his companion rose awkwardly. “I just need to live my own life for a while.”
Oh god, I LOVE THAT THIS IS WHAT TAMORA PIERCE HAS ALANNA SAY. It’s so plain, but it conveys a wealth of development for her. She is choosing to live her life away from the men who desire her, even if she feels attraction to both of them. She wants to be her own person first before she returns to that world. I LOVE THAT SO MUCH. I also love the fact that Pierce hints at Halef being able to hear Faithful, who totally puts Alanna on blast. Y’all, I love that cat so much.
I suppose at this point, I assumed that this book would be a bit similar to the last one. Alanna needed a conflict and a villain to fight, so it seemed obvious that Akhnan would be that villain. At the start of the fight that ended this chapter, I was only nervous about what possible outcome would unfold. Would Alanna be injured? Perhaps, but it also seemed like Akhnan had finally overstepped his boundaries. Given that the Bazhir and the people of Tortall shared a reverence for the Mother (that’s so neat!), his insults towards Alanna were a bit too much for those who overheard him. The Bazhir take honor EXTREMELY seriously, so it was obvious that Akhnan had become so swept up in his beliefs, he’d completely lost his bearings. He attacked Alanna in front of a whole host of tribesmen, many who had once supported him, and it’s all the evidence anyone needed that this dude was completely in the wrong.
Plus, Akhnan is an awful fighter. Seriously! I mean, given who Alanna had fought in the previous two books, I wasn’t afraid for Alanna. She was going to beat him easily, right?
Everything went black. The cloud that suddenly enfolded Alanna cut off all air and feeling. She fought, drawing on reserves of strength that had been built up over years of work and subterfuge. Slowly her own violet fire shoved the blackness away, sparking and flaring where it touched the crystal blade. In the distance she heard a cry.
oh my god WHAT
The blackness was gone. Akhnan Ibn Nazzir collapsed against her, his eyes wide and staring in death.
WHAT DID HE JUST DIE IN THE THIRD CHAPTER. What??? WHAT THE FUCK, ALANNA KILLED SOMEONE ELSE ALREADY??? Technically, she didn’t; she merely outlasted him, since he had tapped into his own life forces in order to survive. Regardless, the moment doesn’t make her feel any better. If anything, she realizes that another person has died at her hands, so she promptly tells Ali that she’s sorry she brought trouble to the Bazhir and she tries to leave. Like, she was just going to leave them all behind because she didn’t think she should interfered in this tribe’s community. That’s a big thing for a person to do, and even if Alanna is just being hard on herself, I respect that she was going to leave these people alone.
“You have slain the old shaman. You must now take his place until you teach a new shaman, or until one slays you.”
IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING
“Would you leave us defenseless against the shamans of the hillmen?” Halef asked quietly. Alanna closed her mouth, remembering the Bazhir tales of the hill-sorcerers. “That is the law. That is our custom.” He opened the door flap of the shaman’s tent. “This is your home now, Woman Who Rides Like a Man.”
THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING. OH MY GOD, I AM SO UNPREPARED.
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