Mark Reads ‘Wild Magic’: Chapter 4

In the fourth chapter of Wild Magic, Daine must learn to cope with life in a big city, and then HOLY SHIT. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Wild Magic.

Chapter Four: The Queen’s Riders

It really just hit me in this chapter that this is totally a coming-of-age story about a girl going to the big city for the first time, and it’s done in such a fascinating way. It’s hard for me to not like Daine a great deal, especially since… oh god, come on. I grew up in a small town full of narrow-minded people, was forced out of my home at a young age, and who had to learn how to support myself years before all my peers did. Is anyone at all surprised that I can relate to Daine? You shouldn’t be! THIS IS MY LIFE STORY IN A FANTASY SETTING. Right? Except I can’t talk to animals, so I’m clearly being oppressed by everything.

This experience is overwhelming to Daine for a number of reasons. Obviously, she’s in a new place, so that’s going to throw her for a loop. But she’s also not used to dealing with people who trust her, who don’t judge her for being different, who pay her for her work. These things are so bizarre to her, but I feel like it’s a great place for her to be in. These are the people she needs in her life. AND WHAT PEOPLE THESE ARE. This is an incredibly familiar world, and it helps that Buri, Thayet, Alanna, Jon, and George are so readily mentioned and present. It’s comfortable. However, Pierce takes great care to introduce a whole new cast to Tortall, and OH MY GOD, THEY ARE ALL SO GREAT ALREADY. It’s nice to have more people of color around, too, and I get the sense that the kingdom that Jonathan runs is far more diverse than any past one, especially when you look at the portrait painted of Corus.

And then there’s this:

Daine smiled and waved good-bye. She was a little envious of Onua, with her home and friends, but she forced that envy down. For certain she didn’t want Onua to be alone in the world as she was.

WOW. WAY TO SHATTER MY HEART IN THREE SENTENCES. Like, okay, do you realize what this means to me? When I ran away from home at sixteen, this was my constant experience for years to come. I was at times bitterly jealous of the appearance of friendliness, of families who were close and affectionate. And despite having friends of my own, I never felt like we were that close. I knew that was because I was hiding an entire part of me. It wasn’t until years later when I was able to be out that I could start feeling like the people I met could actually get to know me. So I spent years experiencing this pervasive loneliness. It’s the main reason why I’m drawn to stories about it, and why series like Fringe, Harry Potter, and His Dark Materials have resonated so powerfully with me. Can this also act as my warning that I’m probably going to sob my way through The Immortals? Like, y’all, Daine was written for me and only me forever and ever. Okay, I know I’m being ridiculous, but I have this thing with certain characters, and I’m aware that’s the case for many of you, too. Is this going to happen again? PROBABLY.

“Odd’s bobs, this is a strange place! Knights who say call ’em by their first name and wizards that light tinder and queens that run around dressed like real people–”

Daine, I just love the way you talk. But for real, aside from that, do you realize what Tamora Pierce is doing here? She is showing Daine that there is more to the world than you can imagine, and there is certainly more to the world than the tiny town you grew up in. Again, did Tamora Pierce just steal my life? I am 100% okay with this, for the record. Especially if that means that I will suddenly get a friend like Miri, Sarge, or Evin, three immensely likable characters who Daine meets during her first full day as Onua’s assistant. Miri and Evin are both in training to be a part of the Queen’s Riders. Through Daine, we learn just what sort of training these students have to go through. I honestly expected that Daine herself would have to do it, too, but now I can see how Pierce is totally writing her into a different role. She’s still an outsider who just happened to get an in for this group, and by making her an assistant, Daine is able to observe and take part in a much more fascinating way. Plus, Daine has her own journey of discovery to go on, and I don’t think it fits to have her jump into this type of training immediately.

Still, Pierce is able to convey how overwhelmed Daine is regardless. Like, she genuinely cannot fathom the idea of wearing non-feminine clothing. She is so used to the patriarchal society back home in Snowsdale that she still believes she’ll be judged for wearing a shirt and breeches. And by gods, I love Kuri’s response to this.

“I’m not saying there won’t be people to carp and pinch at you. That’s human nature, alas.” Daine nodded. She knew. “But here life’s what you make it. Who you used to be doesn’t matter. Look at Sarge – he was a slave, once. Onua was beaten by her husband and left to die. Her Majesty and Commader Buri had to flee Saraine. Do you catch my drift?”

I do, and oh my god I love it. Also, I am going to beed backstory on Onua and Sarge right now. It’s just so incredible to me how this quartet is not about someone changing the social make-up of a kingdom. Instead, we’re seeing what the years of work that people like Alanna, George, Jonathan, Thayet, and others has done. This is what they’ve done to change Tortall, and for the better, I’d say.

And then – y’all, I feel like I’m just going to keep starting each new paragraph this way. I feel like a child while talking about this. It’s so ridiculously pleasant to read. As I said a few times while writing about Song of the Lioness, I really enjoy stories that explore what it means to make and keep friends, and I can see how that theme is carrying over to The Immortals as well. Daine is new in town, but she’s having an easier time than expected making new acquaintances and friends. I think that for the first time in her life, it helps her socially that she’s so good with animals. I get the sense that she was either demonized or bullied for it in Snowsdale, but here, as more and more folks discover whatever power she does have, they simply think she’s awesome for it. Daine’s defensive about it, and I don’t blame her. I don’t know her past in Snowsdale, since she’s been rather mum about revealing anything beyond a few mentions in the narration. What little I do know gives off the impression that her experience was traumatic. So it feels good that these new friends she’s made respond so positively to her. Miri in particular is open to Daine’s help regarding her ponies (while casually revealing that her uncle is a WAVE-SPEAKER and SWIMS WITH AND TALKS TO DOLPHINS there are dolphins in Tortall), and I think this is how Daine is eventually going to get over this fear she has of who she is.

Also, Farant tried. Oh, how he tried.

Pierce also uses this chapter to show us how hard it’s going to be for Daine to adapt. Like, okay, again, I’m going to relate this to myself, but the two years before my freshman year of college, I slept on floors or couches. I had a bed in my dorm that first year at Cal State Long Beach, and I often couldn’t ever get comfortable. Then, it was about five years before I had a bed again when I got my first studio to myself in MacArthur Park in 2007, and I couldn’t sleep in it for ages. My body wasn’t used to it! So good lord do I understand Daine’s sleep frustrations. Well, except for the whole “being warmed by cuddling animals” thing, which I am going to need Tamora Pierce to stop rubbing in my face.It’s so unfair!

In her dream, she walked down the road with Onua. Instead of ponies, they led people – the trainees – in chains. The night air was thick and sour, and marsh creatures made an incredible noise.

The noise stopped abruptly, cut off. Onua balted. “What’s that?”

A stench fell on them in waves. “Stormwings!” Daine cried.

No. NO. NOPE. NO THANK YOU. Oh god, what does this dream mean? Why are the trainees in chains?

Zhaneh Bitterclaws led her flock, homing in on Daine. “Kill it!” she screeched. Her left eye was a black and oozing ruin. “Kill this beast!”

SWEET MERCIFUL BABIES, THE DREAM WAS A WARNING.

More than fifty Stormwings stooped to the attack.

WHAT THE FUCK FIFTY OF THEM??? See, and then Tamora Pierce terrifies me because I hate the Immortals out of pure terror, so she drops fifty of them in one location, leaves Daine without a bow, and sets this series nearly a decade after the events of Lioness Rampant, which means I had to accept that any of the characters from that series could die, too. Or hell, what am I saying? Fifty fucking Stormwings just showed up. Anyone could die! But as frightening as this was, I realized that this scene served to demonstrate just how important Daine and her skills are. Without her sense for danger that warned her, I bet people would have died. She just saved everyone’s life. Is it convenient? Perhaps, but I like this because it’s helping to normalize Daine’s powers without making her feel terrible about it. She has worth because she’s unique, and that’s a damn cool message to send.

Oh god, is the bearded man Myles? Maybe? Wait, Myles doesn’t know magic, does he? Hmmm. Oh shit, I bet that’s Jonathan. He has a beard now! Well, okay, I hope I’m not wrong about this. ONWARDS I GO.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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