In the sixth chapter of Wild Magic, Y’ALL ARE SO MESSED UP. I HAVE BEEN TRICKED. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Wild Magic.
Chapter Six: Magelet
I have been fooled. UGH.
You know, at the time I was reading this, I was intrigued by the narrative, but I kind of felt as if the story had slowed down a bit too much for my taste. I didn’t truly understand why any of this was important. The group traveled, Daine talked to a new animal, she did terribly during her lessons, and then this repeated two more times. What was the point? Where was this heading? Of course, now I understand what Tamora Pierce was doing here, and EVERYTHING HURTS FOREVER.
There is a lot that Pierce needs to get through to set up the devastating reveal at the end of this chapter, and it’s why I was a bit confused about the direction Wild Magic was taking. Part of that was because I felt like so many “mysteries” had been thrown my way. What happened in Snowsdale? Why does Daine nearly slip into the world of the People when she uses her magic? Why is she so ashamed of who she is and what she can do? And this chapter in particular just added more to that, and I could feel the weight of the narrative pushing down on me. Still, I enjoyed what I was reading a great deal. Wild Magic doesn’t feel like Song of the Lioness at all, and in terms of pacing, I must admit that it’s nice that this doesn’t feel rushed. This feels like its own novel, you know? I am watching Daine grow. I’m watching her discover how her magic is organized within her. Like I said last week, this is very much a coming-of-age novel in terms of how it unfolds, and it’s goddamn satisfying. IS ANYONE SURPRISED THAT I LOVE COMING-OF-AGE STORIES? No, none of you should be.
So let’s first discuss Daine’s attempt to explore her magic and how that backfired. Initially, I was horribly confused by what was happening. If you watch the video for this chapter (THANK YOU, KATE!), you can tell that I don’t understand it! I felt like I’d missed something. Why was it bad that Daine developed a very intense closeness with the other animals? Wait, was she doing some sort of astral projection? How had her spirit left her body? Honestly, without the reveal at the end of the chapter, it’s bewildering. I just went back and read the passage, and it’s totally difficult to analyze if you don’t have all the information you need.
On top of that, DAINE YOU NEED TO TELL SOMEONE WHAT’S GOING ON. Well, okay, it was easy for me to say that when I was reading this in real time, but how could she? Daine had spent so much time living in shame for who she was that she couldn’t bear the thought of losing these friends she’d just gotten. How do you explain a past like the one Daine has??? I can’t even bring myself to criticize her for lying to Numair for so long. It’s not that Daine believes Numair, Onua, Alanna, or Thayet are judgmental, terrible people. No, I believe she trusts them and respects them. This is more about how shame works to skew a person’s perception of those around them. Daine was so afraid of rejection that she chose to lie to people she cared about. That was the better option.
My heart. MY HEART.
When she finished, Stefan was looking at her oddly. “You know this little beauty’s changed, ’cause of you.”
She couldn’t tell what the emotion in his pale blue eyes was. “Me’n Cloud have been through a lot together.”
OH MY GOD, NOW I KNOW WHAT SHE’S TALKING ABOUT HELP ME. This is what’s so distressing and unfortunate about Daine’s predicament. Her perception is so skewed that she can’t see the fact that her friends don’t care that she’s different. Stefan is nonchalant about her kind of magic. Onua admits that she understands that Daine’s path is different than most other folks’. Numair clearly wants Daine to develop her talent beyond what she can do already, so it’s obvious that he doesn’t think she’s a terrible person because she is strange and unique. Yet Daine is unable to comprehend this, and she purposely fakes inability or lies about what she’s doing in order to hide herself. It makes me sad because I can relate to this with every fiber of my being. Y’all, I’m queer. This accurately describes more than half of my life. Lying to hide my true identity because of fear of rejection? IT IS BARELY SUBTEXT.
It takes a visit from that damn badger for Daine to finally come around. This is not until she lashes out at Numair, Onua, Evin, Miri, and Alanna, though. I just felt so bad at this point! It was difficult to see Daine continue on such a path, especially when I knew that her friends wouldn’t judge her. For real, Daine CALLS A SEA LION OUT FROM THE OCEAN AT ONE POINT AND NO ONE BATS AN EYE. Like, they barely react to the act, aside from the fact that the sea lion nearly drowns her. I think if these people are okay with this, perhaps you’re being irrational when you constantly lie to them. (Oh my god, I love the sea lion/humpback whale sequence SO MUCH.)
Again, this is all in hindsight and with the knowledge that the people Daine is surrounded by do care about her. Once the badger visits Daine in her sleep (AND GOUGES OUT HER SHOULDERS HOLY SHIT OUCH), she finally pulls aside Onua and Numair to tell them truth. And look, never in a million years could I ever have guessed what Daine was hiding, and this is seriously one of the most devastating backstories I’ve read in a long time. I don’t want to recall every detail of Daine’s experience because… shit, y’all, it’s too much. It breaks my heart. But I want to talk about what this means for her characterization. This whole time, I thought Daine was embarrassed that she was different and shamed for it. But her story isn’t that simple. Daine killed the bandits who murdered her family, and the people in her town HUNTED HER DOWN AND TRIED TO KILL HER. This is more than shame. We’re talking about a violent ostracizing on the part of the people she grew up with. Daine was traumatized by the event, and it explains every quirk of hers.
What’s so messed up about this, though, is that the badger knows Daine’s past, and it asks her to continue down this path anyway. Yes, some day, Daine will need to cope with what happened to her. She’ll have to face her magic. But the badger is essentially forcing this because of… something? I assume this has to do with the Immortals appearing in Tortall, and I know it’s a big deal. It just makes me sad that Daine can’t explore this part of her on her own time. Her destiny has forced her hand and forced her to dredge up these painful memories.
My god, this book, y’all. My heart hurts.
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