Mark Reads ‘Wild Magic’: Chapter 1

In the first chapter of Wild Magic, a recently orphaned young girl seeks company in a K’mir hostler. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to start The Immortals quartet.

Chapter One: Girl With a Pony

Guess what I know about this quartet?

  • It’s set in Tortall.

That’s it. I don’t even know if this is connected to the last book, if it takes place before or after Song of the Lioness, or… well, really, anything. IT’S TIME TO BE SUPER UNPREPARED. This is quite exciting!

Right from the get-go, I can see subtle changes from the last series. The Immortals opens with tragedy brimming on the surface, and it’s a backdrop to everything that happens between Onua and Daine. I get the sense that life in the Eastern Lands is much different from that of the capital and in the south, and what little I learn about the Snowsdale it sound like a sparse countryside. And it’s also one riddled with bandits. It’s because of this that Daine is in Cría, the capital of Galla, looking for work. At just thirteen years old, she’s thrust into the world of adulthood, left to fend for herself with just a pony at her side. It’s interesting that Alanna was also began her journey without her parents along her side, though this time around, Daine has the memory of her mother fresh at hand.

I’m also fascinated by the fact that Tamora Pierce chose to introduce us to (who I think is) the main character through someone else. Onua, a somewhat cynical and independent woman, greets Daine with a thoughtful eye. She knows the young girl is lying about her age, but I think she’s shocked that Daine is terribly open about everything else in her life. I feel like Daine’s grief is still raw around the edges, but she chooses to hide this because she knows she’s on her own.

Oh, right, and Daine is like the animal whisperer or something. Initially, this bizarre talent of hers is portrayed as nothing more than an odd talent. She can calm animals down, and they naturally trust her. Onua is so impressed with Daine’s ability to handle animals that she gives the girl a job, despite that in any other situation, she wouldn’t help someone like Daine. But this doesn’t feel like Song of the Lioness at all, especially since Daine has a far different outlook on life. Plus, I’d say Alanna’s actions direct Daine’s motivations, especially since we learn that many young girls in Tortall have been inspired by what Alanna did. There’s a whole section of this chapter where Daine excitedly talks to Onua about what Alanna means to her:

“Why – have you a fancy to be a soldier?”

Daine shook her head. “Not me. But if they girls for that, maybe they’ll let a girl be a hostler, or work around the camp, or some such.”

It’s not that Daine wants to be Alanna – and I’m glad Pierce is already differentiating the two of them – but that Alanna has opened up a world of possibilities for girls everywhere in Tortall.

Excuse me, my heart is bursting with joy.

And so Wild Magic opens with a journey of sorts. Onua decides to take Daine and her pony, Cloud, with her on the two-week trip down to the capital. (If Daine meets Alanna, I will just die, I swear.) Oh god, I can already see how I will project myself all over Daine. A young teenager who is eager to please setting out on a journey without the backing of her parents? HELLO, MY PAST. I refuse to do anything but make this experience personal to me because that’s half the fun of this, right? Well, at least to me, that is.

Unlike the start of Song of the Lioness, Wild Magic is sparse on information, and I’m kind of into this. We get bits and pieces about the capital (Alanna and Thayet and Buri OH MY GOD), but Pierce remains in the moment. This is about the subtleties of travel, of how Daine is close to animals, and of how Onua views her new companion. Daine is more than capable on her own, but, unlike Alanna, she doesn’t give off that outward confidence. She’s sure of herself, yes, but she’s quiet about it. Even when she demonstrates how good she is with a bow, she shrugs off the compliments. For Daine, she’s good at things that kept her and her family alive. Why is this something to be proud of? In that sense, Daine’s life in Snowsdale humbled her right from the beginning. How will this affect her upcoming adventure?

So, of course, we need to talk about the animals. Tahoi, Onua’s guard dog, is way friendlier to Daine than expected. Again, I chalked that up to an innate talent and nothing more. Some people are just good with animals. I tend to be the one person in my circle of friends who every cat and dog falls in love with immediately, and it’s been this way since I was a kid. But then a badger – A FUCKING BADGER THOSE THINGS ARE MEAN AS SHIT – crawls into Daine’s bed. And then he crawls into her fucking dream. Okay, so she can TALK TO ANIMALS IN HER DREAMS? What the holy fuck, for real? Apparently, Daine’s father basically hired a badger to keep an eye on his daughter, and I don’t even know how this is possible. Some sort of animal magic? Is that what the title of this book is hinting at? But if there’s anything in the first chapter of this book that totally drags me into the narrative, it is this.

Holy shit, what an exciting framing device. I’D LIKE SOME MORE, PLEASE.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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