Mark Reads ‘Wolf-Speaker’: Chapter 5

In the fifth chapter of Wolf-Speaker, I’m distracted by a title and then WHAT THE HELL. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Wolf-Speaker.

Chapter Five: The Trap

I know that I say this often, but this is not the book I thought it was going to be. Now we have multiple plots all woven intricately within one another, and what the fuck is going on? The strangeness of this narrative is so appealing to me because all my preconceptions about Wolf-Speaker have been turned on their head. I think my favorite single sentence of chapter five defines this experience rather well:

The girl turned to her oddly assorted audience.

With just eight words, Tamora Pierce focuses our attention on just how weird this is. Daine has a pack of wolves following her; she talks to her horse; she is now a baby dragon’s adoptive mother; birds just took orders from her; and a goddamn basilisk has decided to observe her life. This is what this book has become. I absolutely love it. More than anything, I’m pleased by the addition of Tkaa to the group. He provides a soothing presence in terms of his dynamic. Oh, and he has answers. We know he snuck through the breach that the mages in Dunlath created, we know the “yellow mage” was largely responsible for it, and I know that it seems super mean that basilisks were cast into the Divine Realms. Y’all, why? Okay, sure they can turn anyone to stone, but they seem pretty nice! Why would you send them away! God, he is this endless source of knowledge, sass, and reassurance. For real, remind me why we need humans again? That’s what I thought. ANIMALS ARE SO MUCH BETTER.

Okay, I’m being ridiculous. But I’m just so disgustingly in love with this world Pierce has created, so much more than Song of the Lioness. Like, does it make sense to you that I love the fact that Tkaa and the wolves can talk to one another? This book is full of dialogue that happens in creatures’ minds. I am amazed by this in and of itself, but Pierce is able to write this without it sounding hokey or terrible. It’s engaging, it’s poetic, and it’s so unlike any book I’ve read for this site. Plus, Tolkien’s pony bigotry has been exposed by TALKING PONIES. Clearly, this is a much better scenario, right? What would our lives be without Cloud? Worthless.

And look, I liked Song of the Lioness a great deal! I’m always wary of saying this sort of stuff because it’s not an issue of what’s better or what anyone else should like. Based on my own preferences and taste, The Immortals is truly hitting every thing I love about fiction and fantasy in a way that’s new and refreshing to me. Let me also point out that this was published NINETEEN YEARS AGO. I was ten when it came out. That’s how fucking great this is. It feels like it was written yesterday.

Anyway, back to chapter five. Ugh, Tkaa is hanging out with the wolves. He turned all the tools to stone! HE IS THE BEST. My god, I adore how he treats the Stormwings who try to talk to him. They aren’t even worth an answer the first time, and the one time he does speak, he acts BORED. Bless him! It’s during this sequence that Numair’s request for tolerance from Daine regarding the Stormwings is brought up again. Cloud insists that Daine needs to stop treating all Stormwings as if they’re evil:

Their natures are opposed to yours, that’s all. A wolf’s nature is opposed to mine, but that does not make wolves evil. Until these creatures do you harm, leave them be. It is as the stork-man told you – learn tolerance!

I can’t deny that this is a good point. All we’ve been told about Stormwings sets us against them. On top of that, they’re being used by some nasty people who might be exploiting them, so who’s to say they’re actually evil?

After this, we are reunited with the LOVELY Maura, who has run away from home. Oh, Maura. The poor girl. I am, of course, going to be drawn to any character who escapes a shitty situation at home since I did the very same thing years ago, so I’m sympathetic to Maura. Plus, she’s ten. Holy shit, I was sixteen when I ran away from home. Maura totally beats me. Also, can we acknowledge that Maura’s life must be weird as fuck at this point? Her whole world has been turned upside down, and now Daine shows up with this mismatched pack of creatures, including two immortals, and there’s a magical wall surrounding her home, making it impossible for her to go back home. She is ten, by the way.

Clearly, the royal court in Dunlath and the mages don’t want anyone breaching the castle. I’m sure this is because of Numair and Daine’s appearance days earlier. Ugh, WHAT ARE THEY DOING THERE.

Pierce is saving this knowledge for a later part of the story, as she moves the narrative along with no answers. Daine’s able to warn the flying creatures in the area to avoid the magical wall, but it’s all she can do to keep them alive. And so the group moves to the caves that Brokefang had spoke of. Again, I can’t escape the bizarreness of this all. It’s so fantastic! To add to that, Maura reveals that she has the Gift, albeit an underdeveloped one. UGH, YES, CAN SHE JOIN THE GROUP, TOO? Oh my god, Numair could teach her, then Daine would have a magical friend, and I love friendship. I was so stoked that Tkaa urged Daine to treat Maura more nicely. YES, PLEASE.

So, this whole time, I enjoyed chapter five. It was a good read! I loved the worldbuilding, the characterization, and the continued tension of the unknown. And then this book became something else. Two things happened:

1) Slavery

For the second time in this book, we discover that the people of Dunlath are using other creatures as slaves. In this case, when Daine joins with a bat (I’ll get to that), the bat interacts with a hurrok. WHO REVEALS THAT IT MUST WEAR A SLAVE COLLAR THAT CONTROLS IT ALL THE TIME. Oh my god, this is horrifying. What is King Jonathan going to do once he finds out a fief of his is using slavery? Oh god, where is Numair?

2) Wisewing

Okay, first, I LOVE THAT ONE OF THE BATS IS NAMED “Eatsmoths.” Just what the fuck does this book think it’s doing being this cute? STOP IT.

On subject! Like, just watch the second video where I stumbled ignorantly into this disaster without applying any critical thinking. I’d picked up on the fact that Daine’s body was changing whenever she joined with another animal, and yet? NOTHING. Daine returns to her own body after many hours as Wisewing, and then:

Her ears were tired and sore, the muscles around them cramped from use. Reaching up to rub them, Daine touched a long flap of leathery skin that flicked to and fro, catching each quiver of sound in the air.

WHAT THE FUCK! WHAT THE FUCK SHE IS BECOMING A BAT. So, the more time she spends joined with an animal, the more dramatic the change? HOW COME NUMAIR DIDN’T KNOW THIS? WHAT THE FUCK!

This goddamn book, I swear.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Mark Links Stuff

 I am going on tour in 2013! There are 27 tour dates spread across the eastern half of North America. Please help suggest venues, offer up a place to crash, and RSVP for dates near you!
- ALL VIDEO COMMISSIONS WILL CLOSE ON FEBRUARY 9TH SO THAT I CAN WRITE POSTS IN ADVANCE FOR TOUR. The only exception to this are any upcoming projects I am doing, so I have listed all upcoming Mark Reads posts that are missing commissions.
- You can, however, commission me to read bad fic/fiction on ANY Mark Does Stuff Tour date. You can claim a specific date to have a live reading right here.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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