In the seventh chapter of Lioness Rampant, I am super nervous for the entire chapter, then pleasantly surprised! Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Lioness Rampant.
Chapter Seven: Period of Mourning
Okay, real talk: the name of this chapter set me on edge for every goddamn page. No, nope, DO NOT DO SOMETHING THAT MEANS I WILL HAVE TO MOURN SOMEONE OH GOD IT’S LIKE SPOILING ME WITH A CHAPTER TITLE. The problem is that word mourning can just mean a period of time spent in grief, and it doesn’t necessarily need death to happen. So whose grieving? What is Tamora Pierce’s intention in calling this chapter “Period of Mourning”?
Obviously, I’m not in her head, but I think this chapter is meant as the calm before the storm, as a moment where Alanna and the reader can reflect back on the journey we’ve been on this whole time. It’s interesting, then, that Alanna hasn’t lost anything, but it’s still a period of mourning. I almost feel like I’m missing some vital foreshadowing here, so I expect there will be a lot of rot13 on this post. I don’t blame y’all anyway. I’m positive that I’m so close to figuring this out, and it’s killing me!
Still, I understand that things are being wrapped up, and it’s making me kind of sad. I wonder how (or if) the other Tortall books are going to reference what happens in Song of the Lioness. Do Alanna’s actions carry over to the other series? Oh god, don’t answer that. But I get the feeling that the opening event of chapter seven – Alanna becoming the Champion – is a big, big, BIG DEAL. I mean, yes, it’s a huge, character-defining moment for Alanna of Trebond. There’s a conversation Alanna has with Faithful later in this chapter about how she’s interested in such opposing things, and I think Jon picking Alanna as Champion is the key to understanding what Alanna will choose to do. Alanna has entertained and lived through so many dichotomies and blurred the lines between them. I appreciate binary smashing a whole lot, and Alanna has really come to represent someone who refuses to accept that there are only two options in the world. She wants to travel and go on adventures, but she doesn’t want to give up her home and her friends and family. She wants to be a knight, but she doesn’t want to stop being a woman. She wants companionship, but she doesn’t want to settle for it. This whole series, Alanna has had to cope with multiple contradictions in her life, and it looks like she’s going to finally be able to conquer them in an empowering way.
It’ll be interesting to see what she can do as the Champion, but I’m also not sure if we’ll get to see much of that. The bulk of this chapter addresses Alanna’s growing anxiety about Jon’s coronation. I know something is going to happen when Jon is about to be crowned king, and I have no doubt that Ralon and Roger will be behind it. But there are no POV narration from the antagonists this time. All we have is Alanna being nervous all the time, which started to rub off on me. I was strangely comforted, though, by Jonathan, of all people. The dude starts saying shit like this:
“If I wantonly break into any of Alex’s homes, even the one he keeps in my own palace, what is to stop me from breaking into yours? Of all my subjects, I am the one least able to break the law.”
Well. Well. This is beautifully reasonable of you, Jon. And it’s not the only moment where I realize just how great Jon’s going to be as king. Even when he awkwardly asks Alanna if she’s still willing to marry him, he accepts her rejection with grace and humility. He agrees with Alanna that they’re just on different paths. You know, I’m genuinely impressed that Tamora Pierce chose to do this. When I first started reading Song of the Lioness, it seemed like it was only a matter of time before Alanna fell for Jon and they’d end up together. But Pierce purposefully directed the story elsewhere, and I love that she played on my expectations. Plus, I like Jon and Alanna when they’re just friends. You realize that Pierce wrote a story about two people having sex and falling in love with one another, but choosing not to enter into a relationship with one another while still remaining friends, right? When does that ever happen?
On top of that, Jon is still openly friendly with the other guy who Alanna has been affectionate and sexual with. These people are acting like mature adults and this is canon and WHEN DOES THIS EVER HAPPEN? Jon offers the position of Confidential Agent to George, giving him a full pardon of his “crimes” in the process AND a grant of nobility/the title of baron. He wants to make George a noble man, and it’s a genuine desire, too. Look how he says, “Please,” to George. Oh god, does that mean Alanna and George can both travel with one another? The possibilities are endless. But I’m mostly excited about this because F R I E N D S H I P.
So, continuing in the general theme of me being cautious and slightly terrified by this chapter, I stopped feeling good about things once the Goddess appeared to Alanna in the Hall of Crowns. My initial thought? Once the Goddess said that she was done guiding Alanna, I believed she was going to take Faithful back. I’m seriously going to miss that cat when it’s gone. But Faithful stays, for now. Instead, the Goddess appears to impart an important message to Alanna: no pressure, but this all rests on you. Faithful explains that there are certain events in the universe that cannot be touched by the gods. As he says:
People like you are the fulcrums on which the future turns.
Which, yes, puts a WHOLE LOT of pressure on Alanna, but I also like this idea that human lives inherently matter in the grand scheme of things, that the universe isn’t predestined. What we choose to do can affect the future.
He gave her ear a nuzzle. Don’t mess it up. I have a reputation to maintain.
Thank you, Faithful. Thank you for that.
I have nothing substantive or nice to say about Josiane and Delia. Big huge booooooooo to slut-shaming women who are willing to throw other women under the bus for their own advancement. Y’all are gonna lose! You are! And look, I don’t like them in the slightest, but I’m not all that okay with Liam and Alanna writing them by using mental illness to insult them. Boo on y’all, too.
So, let’s talk about Alanna and Thom! Si-cham finally arrives, months after George contacted him, and Thom is eventually convinced that it’s best if Si-cham helps him try to cleanse and purify his magic. I’m still sticking to my theory that Roger is responsible for the poisoning of Thom’s magic, but it appears that the solution Si-cham comes up with is at least starting to work. There’s a whole lot of awkwardness from Thom towards Alanna before this even starts to take effect, though. God, how unsettling is it that he’s so sick his lips are bleeding from being so dry? IT’S CREEPY. But Alanna agrees to take a transfer of Thom’s powers for just a week. I think it’s smart of Alanna not to use magic for that week, especially since she doesn’t know how her magic is changed because of it. But I noticed that she’ll be unable to use magic (or least reluctant) during the coronation. Oh. Oh. That can’t be good, right?
I don’t know. Yet. This chapter ends abruptly, right before the coronation, on a kind of silly note: Jonathan’s ceremony has Alanna calling the Dominion Jewel an “awesome artifact.” Yes, it sounds just as ridiculous as you thought it would. For things to be so calm only means that the next chapter is going to destroy me. Plus, there’s only chapter eight and an epilogue left. There’s a lot to wrap up in just sixty pages. Oh god, I’m nervous again. UNPREPARED FOREVER.
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