In the ninth chapter of Wolf-Speaker, the title of the chapter alone was already too much for me, and then I read the chapter, and then still done. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Wolf-Speaker.
Chapter Nine: War is Declared
Are you kidding me with that chapter title? Is this for real?
It is, and it is so fucking good. There’s a 0% chance I will dislike the last chapter because it’s all just too amazing. What Tamora Pierce achieves in this chapter alone is monumental! The scope of it, the narrative flow, the pacing, the plot twists… everything about this is the best of hers that I’ve read. Yet. Oh god, what if this gets better as I keep going? THERE ARE STILL TWO MORE IMMORTALS BOOKS, then another quartet, then two more, and I don’t even know how many Circle of Magic books there are. I am barely starting, and I am unable to handle my life, y’all.
Anyway, this chapter basically does two things: sets up the start of the war, and then begins it. (Interestingly, the end of the first video is at a perfect point to move into the second half of the chapter. Oh god.) Through this, she is able to convey just how huge this operation is. She utilizes the setting of the valley and the magical dome in conjunction with the absolutely massive cast of characters introduced since the start of Wolf-Speaker. There are so many characters. Even the starlings who were in like TWO PARAGRAPHS earlier in this book play a part. This is so incredible to me as a reader not only because it’s evidence that Pierce is goddamn talented, but because it’s rewarding me for the experience. That’s one of my favorite things about the Harry Potter series, too. I just have a thing for continuity, you know?
But that’s not just in the context of plot details. Chapter nine brings about some very satisfying emotional continuity, too. In particular, Daine’s growth is just something else, y’all. I raised a yogurt cup in honor of Daine/Quickmunch for this passage, but I want to quote it again for another reason:
Tkaa listened to Daine and said, “She has learned she has the ability only now. She asks me to say that if you do not tell her what she can do once the mages have left the castle, she will ask Quickmunch to bite you.”
This is hilariously sassy, of course, and I don’t want to detract from that. Just think about what Daine was like in the beginning of Wild Magic when she first met Onua. She was so nervous and unsure of herself that she it wasn’t even within her to speak positively of herself. And now she is sassily telling off an elder mage while inside the mind of another animal. And really, that’s why Wolf-Speaker has grown on me so much. Lines like this are funny, but to me, they represent something much more. Daine believes in herself. She believes that she deserves attention and respect. And perhaps that’s just a stretch on my part, but this Daine is so unlike what she first was, and I love this book because of that. The entire “war” that’s developed in the pages of chapter nine is entirely reliant on what Daine can do. I don’t want to diminish what other folks contribute, like Tait, Maura, or Iakoju. But how much of this would have happened without Daine? Isn’t she the key to binding this all together?
That’s not lost on me, either. The badger spoke of Daine uniting the kindred creatures in this valley, and Daine is unaware that she is doing just that. She’s got immortals, two-leggers, and a wide assortment of animals (many of them mortal enemies with one another!) working towards saving the Long Lake Valley. That is incredible to read, isn’t it? The fact that it’s unconscious on her part is equally as satisfying; it shows us just how natural this comes to Daine. It’s through this that we truly begin to appreciate the setting of Wolf-Speaker. As the various animals and creatures set out on their missions to disrupt and distract the mages of Dunlath, I really got a sense for the enormous community of animals within the valley. They gossip. Like, I know that may seem like an anthropomorphic representation, but it’s done in a way that isn’t silly here. I got the sense that Daine’s efforts to protect the valley were spreading rapidly amidst the population of creatures in the valley. This is going to be even more chaotic than the battle at Pirate’s Swoop, isn’t it? Oh god, wait, I just had a thought: THERE ARE STILL TWO MORE BOOKS AFTER THIS. So even if Tristan and Yolane are defeated, there is still more. OH GOD. What’s going to happen? What is going to remain unanswered? I’m scared.
Anyway, I noticed that for a moment, Daine was interested in how other creatures perceive the Stormwings. Genuinely so! I mean, I must also acknowledge that this is followed with a sequence where she and the eagle she is within trick the Stormwings into flying into trees, but still. There it was! A moment! She is thinking about the Stormwings in a new way!
How great is the narration regarding the night of the animals fucking everything up? IT’S GREAT, THAT’S THE ANSWER. Not only is it entertaining, but it is once again a fantastic representation of the way Daine has changed. She started this book with an outright resistance and fear towards animals getting too involved in human affairs. LOOK WHAT SHE HELPED ORGANIZE. Plus, I don’t think she expected all these different animals to help out so exuberantly, but why not? Why wouldn’t they want to get involved in protecting the place they live? It’s how Daine is going to unite the kindred, that’s my guess. That symmetry isn’t going to be easy to achieve, but this is how she’ll do it.
And that brings us to the declaration of war. My god, I was so nervous going into the end of this chapter. As Pierce points out, to go from such chaos to such silence the next morning is chilling. It was even more agonizing when Daine was racing up the causeway without any sort of protection. But once she got inside the castle, I was about ready to explode. BUT THEN I WAS COMFORTED BY BLUENESS AND SCRAP AND THE MICE AND ALL THIS CUTENESS. Well, only somewhat comforted. I, too, was confused where the model Numair spoke of could have been. Incidentally, I think early in this scene in the second video is where I correctly guess that it must be in the tower that was once billowing smoke. Was I prepared? NOPE. Yolane shows up, everything gets more stressful, and then Daine finds out something terrible:
I know what they mean, [Scrap] whispered. There is a lizard in the tower, a cold one. Colder than anything.
WELL, JUST FANTASTIC. Honestly, I really don’t know how Daine is going to get past a Coldfang with just a dragon that can unlock any door and a crossbow. Oh, and she can’t look the creature in the eyes, either. Oh, and then she gets knocked down the stairs. Oh, and how dare you end this chapter on a cliffhanger. JESUS, how is she going to do this??? Is there something in the room she stumbles into that can help her? Oh god, Kitten might be able to help… right? MAYBE?
I DON’T EVEN KNOW.
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