Mark Reads ‘Lioness Rampant’: Chapter 3

In the third chapter of Lioness Rampant, Alanna and her companions join up with an interesting party that leads to even more chaos and uncertainty. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Lioness Rampant.

Chapter Three: The Warlord’s Daughter

Right off the bat, Tamora Pierce messes with my own expectations about the new characters she introduces, and in the process, she makes this perhaps the most fascinating story in the entire Song of the Lioness quartet. It’s such an unexpected moment, especially so far into this series. Alanna is still struggling with what she wants to do in her life, and now she’s been sidetracked by… well, is she being distracted? The situation with the warlord’s daughter is intense and complicated. She’s still on her way to the Roof of the World to find the Dominion Jewel. The only different is that she’s got Thayet and Buri coming along with her. More can’t hurt, right?

I’m not too sure of that yet, but for the time being, I am way into how these two characters were introduced and then integrated into the book. Of course, I anticipated that Alanna, Liam, and Coram would be forcibly taken to the warlord Liam spoke of in the previous chapter, and this would change Alanna’s quest. However, Pierce very quickly twists my expectations because Thayet and Buri are not antagonists. Through these characters (and Thayet in particular), Pierce explores what Alanna’s sense of independence means. I love that Alanna discovers another set of women so much like herself. Sure, there’s some humor in this, and both Coram and Faithful don’t let the opportunity get away from them to make fun of her. But here’s a woman (Thayet) who has been forced into a difficult situation, one where her gender and her birth dictate her future, and yet she purposely resists that. Then there’s Buri, who hates taking orders, behaves as she wishes, and is brutally honest. Like, for real, can Thayet, Buri, and Alanna just become the bestest of best friends, already? I’m already happy that they’re getting along, so let’s just keep this train of F R I E N D S H I P going!

So, there’s a lot of information given to the reader in this chapter, and at times, I did feel like I was struggling to comprehend the complex politics at work here. But I came to understand that princess Thayet jian Wilima and her companions were abandoned. Yeah, Buri is more upset about this than Thayet, who tries to reasons that the men who left them behind had the interests of their own family in mind. But yeah, the warlord’s own army men ditched them, and Buri is not at all happy about this. Still, she is immensely thankful that Alanna and her group have agreed to accompany them to safety, especially since Buri’s own sense of duty has her attention equally split between protecting the princess and the children.

About those children: I am so much like Alanna and babies it hurts. I AM ALWAYS TERRIFIED OF DROPPING THEM. Once kids can walk and babble, I am fantastic with them. Put me in front of a newborn or an infant? I become an utter fool terrified of doing everything wrong forever. My younger sister is only four years or so younger than I am, so I didn’t really have much experience being old enough to be around a super young child, so I have no frame of knowledge for this stuff. Plus, I’m a ball of anxiety as it is. I can barely deal with my own life, and now you want me to think about not dropping a baby for thirty seconds? SEVERE OVERLOAD OF EMOTIONS, EVERYONE. What if it’s hungry? What if it needs to go to the bathroom? WHAT IF IT’S A DEMON CHILD? Why am I taking such a simple concept and hopelessly complicating beyond coherency? Welcome to my anxiety brain, y’all.

I do like that Alanna gradually does learn to care for the kids, but the ultimate message isn’t that Alanna IMMEDIATELY NEEDS TO HAVE FORTY CHILDREN. Instead, she learns to appreciate what other women in her life have had to do, and she can contribute to taking care of those in the group, too! Plus, Coram shows her up with his fantastic baby care skills, and I can’t help but feel that this is incredibly hilarious. He’s so nonchalant about it!

Alanna felt odd. Coram could’ve had a family years ago, if he hand’t been working for Trebond.

Coram looked at her. “Don’t start sayin’ maybe ye should bring me home to Rispah. We’ve something to do before we head back.” He touched her shoulder. “I’ve been raisin’ ye. I’ve no complaints of my life.”

I love Coram so much, y’all.

There’s a fascinating bit of backstory that Buri provides to Alanna (and us) about why exactly Thayet isn’t with her warlord father. I’d just assumed that they were heading back to him, but Buri outlines how an oppressive culture clash between the K’mir and the Warlord led Thayet’s mother (and Buri’s mother and brother) to die as a protest against the Warlord’s regime. It was unthinkable that the the K’mir could live their life with their customs intact under the Warlord, and so Kalasin committed suicide as an act of revolutionary protest, while Buri’s mother and brother died protecting Kalasin. Alanna, simply, does not understand this. She doesn’t get how Kalasin’s act is both transgressive and important to her people, a way to rally fellow K’mir to explain why the Warlord’s actions are deeply offensive to her culture. Alanna has always fought her battles with the expressed understanding that she stay alive the entire time. At the same time, she’s never had to deal with something like cultural assimilation or erasure to this degree. I wonder if this story is meant to foreshadow something from the future. Perhaps not, but I’m hoping that Alanna can eventually learn to understand why someone would do something so drastic.

This chapter also builds on two specific concepts that have been longstanding issues in Song of the Lioness. Alanna firstly continues to deal with what her purpose in life is. Here, she misses George deeply, and even Jonathan a little bit. She’s homesick, but I get the sense that she knows returning home wouldn’t make her feel complete and satisfied. She’s still wandering the country, and while she’s got a mission, what else is she supposed to do? This is brought up again at the end of the chapter when Alanna wonders if finding the Dominion Jewel is going to do anything to cure her chronic restlessness. Sure, she’s on an adventure with a bunch of new friends, but once that’s done, what’s next? I don’t really know, honestly.

Second, Alanna uses her magic (much to Liam’s fright) in order to help the group steal supplies from some nearby bandits. Song of the Lioness hasn’t strayed from addressing Alanna’s identity crisis in this context. I mean, the whole reason she became a knight was so she could avoid learning magic. But now, it’s clear that the Gift will always be a part of her. While I think she’s more comfortable with using it herself, it doesn’t help that Liam is so unnerved by it. It makes her feel uneasy. It’s not just for romantic reasons, though I imagine Alanna’s disappointment with Liam’s fear isn’t helping. But even Buri says that magic is “dishonorable.” Is it??? Perhaps culturally for the K’mir, but I don’t think Alanna is being “dishonorable” by using what comes naturally to her to help others. However, all of these recents events, combined with both of these issues Alanna is struggling with, most likely contribute to the dreams she is having. Alanna worries about being powerless or useless when Tortall most needs her, but I think she’ll be able to rise to the occassion.

The group reaches Rachia, where everything becomes SUPER FUCKED UP. I mean, seriously:

1) ASSASSIN.

2) After a badass chase scene, the assassin commits suicide to avoid talking.

3) The convent is giving Thayet and Buri a hard time and refusing entrance.

4) Alanna invokes her right as a Knight of the Realm of Tortall (OH MY GOD, IT’S SO GREAT) to get them all inside the convent, only to learn that Princess Thayet’s father is dead.

5) WHICH MAKES EVERYTHING SUPER COMPLICATED AND AWFUL. Some people want to murder her, one might want to marry her, and Thayet and Buri definitely cannot stay.

6) Oh, and by the way, the First Daughter who told the two they can’t stay? That’s Thayet’s cousin. HER OWN FAMILY CAN’T TAKE HER IN.

It’s an awful, miserable situation, but at least the children are safe. And so Alanna offers to take the two of them with them to the Roof of the World. It’s companionship, and Alanna deeply respects both women, knowing that she can possibly save them if she allows them to come with them. I wonder how they’re going to react to Alanna’s pursuit of the Dominion Jewel if she finds it, though. Like… damn, that’s some shit, you know? It’s a big deal! But I’ll have to save that for the next review. The group, disguised as mercenaries (with some help from the Daughters), take just three days to make it up to the Roof of the World. Did I say I was excited yet? Y’all, I AM SO EXCITED!

A quick note about Mark Reads video commissions: I have updated the Mark Does Stuff store page for my video commissions to reflect a policy I’m going to have to start to enforce more rigorously. It’s been practice for a single commission to cover up to two 15 minute YouTube videos for Mark Reads stuff. I have no way of knowing or checking the length of what I’m being commissioned, so I have to trust that whatever a person has chosen can fit into 30 minutes.

This is not intended to single anyone out or make them feel bad, as I don’t think anyone is doing this intentionally or maliciously. But people are commissioning me for things that are absolutely HUGE, far longer than a 30 minute read. This includes chapters for books on this site and fanfiction stuff. I don’t find out how long something is until I’m in the midst of it and I realize I’m making three, four, or five videos.

I want to be fair to folks who are paying for these videos to know that they’re getting (generally speaking) the same amount of time as anyone else. At the same time, it’s unfair to me, especially as I’m putting in up to an hour, hour and a half of extra work for a single commission when it’s really the amount of work for two or three commissions. I was hesitant to do anything about this, but I had just caught up with commissions when I was hit with about ten new ones, and so far, all of them have been four videos long just to cover the content.

So! I love doing these videos, but I need to be more even and fair about this. If you can’t afford more than a single commission, I can totally work with that. You can give me sections you specifically want to see read, and I’m certainly not going to be picky if it goes five minutes or so over time. I am just asking folks to please keep in mind that the longer the piece I’m reading is, the harder it will be to fit in within the originally stated confines of the video.

Thanks everyone! This is NOT retroactive, by the way. If you’ve purchased a commission from me before today, you don’t have to adjust it in any way. I’ll still do the whole thing. I appreciate your support! It really helps keep this place running.

Mark Links Stuff

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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