In the fourth chapter of Emperor Mage, I AM SO CONFUSED! IT’S REALLY GREAT! Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Emperor Mage.
Chapter Four: Strange Conversations
Oh, let’s talk about all the strange conversations in this goddamn chapter, y’all, because THERE ARE A LOT OF THEM.
I need to number their convos because they have more than one and THEY ARE ALL REALLY STRANGE. While the two trade barbs back and forth every time they speak, I was completely surprised that both characters were able to be civil. Generally speaking, that is. When they’re introduced by Ozorne, though, MY GOD. It’s like a fight with words, y’all. SO INTENSE. I love that Daine plays herself up so sweetly here. It’s a brilliant way to deflect what Rikash tells her. I love you, Daine.
Y’all, I think Kaddar has a crush on Daine. Well, first of all, how could you not. But I think that their conversation is really kind of sweet? Honestly, it’s strange because Kaddar really has no reason to talk to Daine, so I think his interest in her is genuine. Plus, he’s the first person in Carthak that Daine is completely open with about her powers. She tells him everything! The mind entering, the ability to talk with them, her shape-shifting. I think that’s a big deal! The only other person Daine trusts this much is Lindhall. Hell, even when Daine refuses to eat antelope, Kaddar doesn’t eat it himself. Granted, he makes a face and quizzes her about it, but at least he wants to know the reason why, you know?
OH MY GOD, OTHER PEOPLE WITH WILD MAGIC. I’m a little weary of the idea of portraying more people of color this way, but they are certainly given to us in a very positive way. Oh my god, does this explain why Daine latched on to the wolves? Does each person with wild magic find it easiest to deal with a specific species? Regardless, I am eagerly looking forward to Daine getting to talk with the Banjiku again!
One part of Daine’s interaction with these people stood out to me the most, though, and that happens after they leave:
She returned to her seat and watched the entire thing without seeing it. Surely it wasn’t possible that her da, unknown for all these years, was a god! And yet – Ma had always told her that she’d been conceived in the forest on Beltane, and that her father was a stranger.
I HAD NEVER EVEN CONSIDERED THIS UNTIL IT WAS SPELLED OUT FOR ME. Oh my god, that would explain SO MUCH ABOUT DAINE. Her father is WEIRYN. Holy shit!
I knew that when Rikash came to Daine that this shit was gonna be good, and I was not disappointed. I love that these two keep insulting each other to their faces, but it’s done in an almost playful manner. Keep the sass coming.
But this conversation is more than just entertainment. Of course, Rikash has a purpose for coming to Daine. He wants to know about Maura! Oh, now you’re being polite! I see right through you, Rikash. Rikash hints at some “momentous event,” as Numair puts it, that will give him the chance to “pursue [his] own life,” and ideally see Maura. Oh. Oh. So he knows about whatever is in store for Carthak, does he??? HOW. I mean… I guess since he’s immortal, he’d have access to that information? I DON’T KNOW, is there like some private immortals gossip board he posts on??? I DON’T KNOW.
It’s through this that Daine and Numair unknowingly reveal that two of Rikash’s fellow Stormwings, Barzha and Hebakh, aren’t dead. He believed they were! Well, awkward. Seriously awkward! Oh god, what have Daine and Numair accidentally done???
After refusing a reward from Ozorne (MY QUEEN, I LOVE YOU SO MUCH DAINE) and taking a stroll in the gardens so all the bats could greet her (THIS IS LITERALLY ONE OF THE MOST UNFAIR SERIES IN THE HISTORY OF LITERATURE), Daine sees Rikash angrily talking THE SLAVE WOMAN FROM HER ROOM. Only she looks slightly different??? How is this possible? It doesn’t help that Rikash’s conversation with Daine is even more confusing than ever. Is Rikash gambling with the woman? Why is he so amused by the fact that Daine can see the woman and she appears as a slave to her? WHAT IS THAT WOMAN NOT TELLING DAINE???
But I was struck initially by the way that Rikash said, “Please,” when Daine started to leave. It’s not in Rikash to be kind in the same way that Daine understands it, and he makes a mind-blowing comment that people come to expect that the Stormwings to be crude, even if that isn’t necessarily the case. (Do they purposely act as they are expected, then? I am FASCINATED by this.) He’s also clearly upset by his discovery that Daine and Numair were actually telling the truth. Jokhun lied to him, Ozorne lied to him, and he feels as he betrayed his fellow Stormwings. Y’all, this is going to backfire against Ozorne, I’m calling it. I think that was evident when Rikash gave that metal feather to Ozorne as a gift. There’s no way he truly appreciates the emperor, so there must be something to that Stormwing feather that Rikash is hiding. He claims it’ll give the emperor immortality in a time of “peril of life and throne.” I BET IT’S A WEAPON OF SOME SORT.
Oh god, why am I even trying to be prepared? Watch me be horribly wrong again.
Oh god, I was thinking about a very specific trope that appeared in Harry Potter often that I complained about back when I was reading it: characters hiding and overhearing crucial information. That happened like five times in every book! Okay, I’m exaggerating, but you get the point. This, though? Oh my god, IT IS SO FANTASTIC. Daine is hiding as a badass bird hybrid so she can listen to and observe these two men. And lord, IT IS SUCH A STRANGE CONVERSATION. It’s left unsaid what it is Ozorne wants to do with Daine as a token of appreciation, but whatever it is, Numair knows it is awful. This frightens me!!! What does Ozorne have planned for Daine??? What did Numair mean when he said that once Ozorne got the throne, he “decided [he] no longer required mere human bonds”? I DON’T UNDERSTAND.
I was just as shocked as Daine that Ozorne so openly insinuated that Numair was bedding Daine, but HOLY SHIT, NUMAIR TRIED TO STRIKE THE EMPEROR. THIS IS BAD. THIS IS REALLY BAD. This cannot go well!!!!
AND THEN OZORNE CREATES THIS WEIRD FIRE CYCLONE REPRESENTATION OF NUMAIR AND HE CRUSHES IT AND NUMAIR’S EFFIGY SCREAMS IN PAIN AND WHAT IS THIS FUCKING BOOK DOING TO ME
This cannot go well.
I AM SO DONE I AM SO DONE. FINALLY, THESE CHARACTERS GET TO SIT DOWN AND JUST TALK, AND IT IS SO RELIEVING BECAUSE, AGAIN, I REALLY DON’T LIKE STORIES WHERE THE PLOT IS PROPELLED FOR HUNDREDS OF PAGES BECAUSE NO ONE CAN JUST ~HAVE A GODDAMN CONVERSATION~ AND IT’S LITTERED WITH ~MISUNDERSTANDINGS~
Oh god, Numair tells Daine that the badger needs to be more specific to be helpful, and I just wanted to jump into the pages and kiss him (with his consent, of course!) because THANK YOU. Fuck mystical beings and their vague messages. You aren’t helping! You are literally making things worse! You are a mystical being and can do anything so DON’T BE VAGUE!
And then, ODD’S BOBS, DAINE MAKES A STUFFED KING VULTURE COME TO LIFE IN FRONT OF ALANNA AND NUMAIR TO DEMONSTRATE WHAT GIFT THE BADGER GAVE TO HER AND i am so fucking done with this book in the best way possible. D O N E.
PS: How dare this chapter end with a cliffhanger. How dare it.
Mark Links Stuff
- I am now on tour!!! I have 26 events spread out across the eastern HALF of the U.S. and Canada. They are all free and all-ages. Come see speak about the Mark Does Stuff Universe and read terrible fanfiction live!
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- Commissions are still open while I am on tour! There may be a day or two delay to get them done, but I am accepting them graciously to help fund my tour!
- Nominate me for a Hugo award in fan writer or Dramatic Presentation – Short Form!