Mark Reads ‘Lioness Rampant’: Chapter 6

In the sixth chapter of Lioness Rampant, things aren’t totally awful for once, and I AM SO FULL OF FEELINGS FOR THE END OF THIS CHAPTER. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Lioness Rampant.

Chapter Six: Homecoming

You know, it just happened. I’ve enjoyed Song of the Lioness a great deal. It’s definitely a surprise for me. I didn’t know if I’d like this! I mean, I trusted the many people who swore by it, but, as I’ve explained before, I’ve always been hesitant to read fantasy novels. Tamora Pierce’s first Tortall quartet has been pleasant to read, has shocked me more than once, and got me incredibly excited about reading fantasy! It’s also been a blast to apply my queer lens to everything ever, too.

And then when Alanna walked into that ballroom, descending down the Great Stair, I just… oh god, I got really emotional? Like, I know I haven’t spent a whole lot of time reading this series, especially when you compare it to some of the longer ones I’ve covered for Mark Reads, but it just hit me. Alanna is all grown up. She is returning home as a hero, and she has won the respect and admiration of nearly everyone.

Oh my god, she did it.

But more on that in a little while. Alanna’s homecoming in chapter six is massively entertaining. While the plot isn’t advanced as much as it is in the previous chapter, Pierce is smart to take this break in order to set up the grand finale. Alanna’s return to Corus is a big deal, especially since I had expected it to occur much earlier than it does. We’ve had this multi-pronged narrative going for quite some time, and now all these characters are coming back together. That starts off with the reunion of George and Alanna, and that alone filled me a billion different feelings. I have grown to respect and adore George over the course of this quartet, and I just want the best for him.

Can we talk about how hilarious this is, though?

“Has he always been this obstinate?” she asked Faithful.

The cat sniffed. You’re a fine one to talk.

She grinned. “If I don’t know obstinacy when I see it, who does?”

I haven’t commented on it in a while, but I really adore the relationship between this mystical cat and Alanna. They’ve been together for so long, and they both know each other well. They’re both quick to call one another on their shit, and it produces moments like this. It got me wondering what the Goddess wanted Faithful to do. I haven’t forgotten the last time they spoke, and she said his time was nearly up. Was his purpose to keep Alanna honest? To guide her to her destiny? What will happen to him once that happens? Oh god, is he going to go away?

I must not think sad thoughts yet! I shall instead bask in the beauty that is Alanna returning home and remembering just how pleasant this place was. She’s been gone for so long, and it’s not that she regrets this. She had to get away from Corus after she killed Roger, and her journey was absolutely necessary. But home is familiar for her. She grew up with these people. They care about her, and they cared about her long before she ever had to prove herself.

Myles wept unashamedly, soaking his beard as he beamed at her with delight.

OKAY, THIS WAS THE FIRST OF MANY MOMENTS THAT GOT TO ME. Oh my god, Myles loves Alanna so much.

Coram stayed close to Rispah, and Alanna realized with a twinge of sadness that his days as her mentor-companion were done.

Oh god, this is the end. This was the first moment where I had to start acknowledging that I am almost done with Song of the Lioness. What are these feelings? Where did they come from??? Why did they wait so long to show up???

It surprised and delighted her to see Myles take Eleni’s hand; George saw her looking and winked. Later she accused him of matchmaking, and he made no attempt to deny it.

SEE, HE TOTALLY SHIPS THEM. It’s just so beautiful.

After this reunion, though, things get serious for a moment. That night, Thom uses magic to visit his sister. It’s sort of a precursor to Apparation, isn’t it??? It was good to see the twins reunited, and Alanna was a lot less angry with Thom than I expected. However, I did pick up on this:

With the talisman’s aid she saw that Thom shone with a rust-red fire, the color of old blood.

Okay, I think I’ve just put two-and-two together. This has to be the explanation for why Roger’s magic is back and his Gift is now red. He’s corrupted Thom’s magic and is siphoning it out of his life force. I’M CALLING IT, I AM PREPARED FOR ONCE. Please don’t let me be wrong. 

Much like this interaction, I was also impressed with Alanna’s behavior toward Jonathan. They last parted on such a sour note, but I guess distance and time reduced Alanna’s anger and distaste with Jon. On top of that, it’s clear that Jon is much too overwhelmed by what’s been happening to him to treat Alanna with anything but admiration and love. You know, sometimes that’s all two friends need: time and space. Sometimes, that’s all you need to work through your issues! Plus, does Alanna secretly ship Jonathan and Thayet? KIND OF, RIGHT? Oh god, Jon is smitten with Thayet, which I don’t blame him for. She’s awesome!

Alanna’s fight scene is a pleasure, too, because for once, it’s not full of terror. It’s a clever way for Pierce to remind us how far Alanna has come. Tonally, it’s quite reminiscent of all of her training scenes in Alanna, when she was still trying to determine how to navigate this world that she wanted to belong to more than anything. She was so uncertain that she’d be unable to do it as a young woman; she was terrified that even if she passed the Ordeal, she’d never be accepted as a true knight. And look at her now.

can you tell i am full of feelings

SO LET’S TALK ABOUT THE ABSOLUTELY THRILLING CONVERSATION THAT ALANNA AND ROGER HAVE. Like, for real, knowing that Roger was just hanging about, I knew that Alanna would eventually have to talk to him AND I WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED AT ALL.

“Hello, Roger. You look pale. Not enough time in the sun?”

His eyes, lighter than Jon’s, narrowed. “You’re cocky, aren’t you? Killed anyone recently?”

“No. It’s so depressing to come back and find one’s work reversed.”

ALREADY A BILLION PERCENT DONE AT THIS POINT. Oh my god, ROGER IS EVEN CREEPIER THAN BEFORE. And I know that’s largely because he shouldn’t exist, and that very fact unsettles me in my goddamn soul. But then Alanna makes me feel all better:

“There are sandstorms that strip man and horse and bury them – I’ve seen them. I saw bones piled higher than my head for the folly of a bad king and those who wanted his throne. I lived through a blizzard that froze every other living creature solid. Against those things, you’re only a man. I can deal with you.”

Alanna, I bow before you. I am unworthy. Oh my god, she is so incredible. It’s interesting, then, that no one can do anything to Roger. Once again, we know he’s evil, but it’s even more complicated than last time. Everyone knows he is just wrong. His existence, his presence, his goddamn face. But what can they do? Before, Alanna fought with her own secret grudge against, unable to know that Roger had put a spell on everyone to keep them trusting him. But now, everyone distrusts Roger of their own free will, and they still can’t do shit about him. Oh god, Tamora Pierce, how do you write stories? This is so intriguing and exciting. HOW ARE THEY GOING TO DEAL WITH HIM?

Anyway, I don’t know if there’s a version of this series on film, but I need to see fanart or something of Alanna’s outfit for her presentation at court. It’s made up of everything that comprises her life, a way to compliment the masculine and feminine aspects of her personality, and it sounds gorgeous. Also, I laughed so hard when I found out that Alanna fainted after getting her ears pierced. ALANNA, LOOK WHAT YOU HAVE FACED. Oh god, it’s so perfect.

So, let’s just talk about it. The Great Stair. The set-up made me anxious, obviously, and I dearly hoped nothing would go wrong. Buri and Thayet’s outfits sounded incredible, and I wanted to see this procession of fabulous ladies make their way down that set of stairs. When that moment finally came, I was just totally lost in the moment until this:

Remembering his disguise as a stern-faced Bazhir, George defeated the urge to beam like a proud lover. She’s done it, he though. My darlin’s made them pay attention and dance to her tune. And I thought only common-born knew how to do that.

I couldn’t ignore it anymore. Alanna did what she always dreamed of, and she did it on her terms. She wanted to become a Knight of the Realm more than anything, but she didn’t want to give up being a woman. She fought tradition, prejudice, bigotry, death threats, and her own rampaging self-doubt. She did it.

Oh my god, I just realized I don’t want this series to end. Oh god.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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