In the sixth chapter of Emperor Mage, Ozorne puts on a ridiculous display as peace talks stall, and it’s clear this is going to backfire horribly. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Emperor Mage.
Chapter Six: Carthaki Magecraft
I must say that the central conflict of this book is structured in way that’s completely unlike any of the past books, and I love that. I’d say the past six Tortall books I’ve read all had some general end in sight, some goal that Alanna or Daine had to reach or overcome, and there was a clearly defined antagonistic force along the way. This is the first time that we aren’t dealing with the same sort of focus. Ozorne is sort of an antagonistic, but only in ambiguous terms. The goal of this novel? Get out of Carthak alive. As we learn more about the horrible prediction that the badger gave Daine, this is less about Daine overcoming anything, and it’s more about how these people appear to be caught up in something they have no control over. And that’s fascinating to me, especially if you start looking at Emperor Mage as a book about control, free will, and resistance. Throughout chapter six, we see how Kaddar gradually understands what sort of culture he’s been raised in and how much he despises it. As he starts to vocalize criticisms, I got the sense that we are seeing a shift in him that’s going to play out as this story heads towards its inevitable show-off.
And honestly, that’s what I am totally blown away by. I’m unprepared for Emperor Mage despite knowing that there’s no way the Catharki empire can avoid the gods getting their revenge. It’s going to happen, and the horrifying appearance during Ozorne’s naval display is confirmation of that.
Let me back up. First things first! Like the fact that lightning strikes two statues of Ozorne on the second page of chapter six. Oh, and the sky was clear. So that means some god was so upset with Ozorne that they felt it necessary to destroy these idolizations of the man. Shit is going to go down. And lord, it continues to. A somewhat forgettable exchange that Daine overhears from a Tusaine statesmen comes back to the fore during Ozorne’s banquet that night. The entire affair is a garish, ridiculous display of power, one that I rightly read as being a TERRIBLE IDEA. Plus, Kaddar was especially on edge during the whole boat trip, which was made worse when Numair took it upon himself to be a TOTAL BUTTFACE.
Numair. NUMAIR. What the hell do you think you’re doing? Your desire to protect Daine is nice if it wasn’t so creepy and uninvited. She has more than demonstrated an ability to take care of herself. You know, since she spent an entire novel behind a magical dome without you. I don’t like the presumption here that Daine needs Numair to defend her or protect. Even if it comes from a good place, that doesn’t mean it’s a good thing. You can tell it hurts Daine, too, since she’s mortified by her friend’s behavior. Dude. Why did you do that? Even with the knowledge of the arranged marriage, I still think Numair shouldn’t have done this.
This is then followed by one long sequence of pure absurdity. Initially, I thought that Ozorne was showing off to impress the other delegates, but once Ozorne revealed that he’d secretly brought his entire naval fleet to the party, it was obvious this wasn’t a parlor trick. This was some ill-advised attempt at frightening the other nations. Like Daine, I was shocked that Kaddar openly despised all of this, but only because I’m not used to him being so openly critical of his uncle.
A hand gripped his arm. “Shut up,” Varice said fiercely. “What’s the matter with you? Do you want to disappear like his last heir?”
WHAT??? WHAT HAPPENED TO HIS LAST HEIR???
No answer about this, but what the hell. Now I have to worry about Kaddar “disappearing” over his opinions. I am liking Ozorne less and less the more I learn about him. So are the gods, apparently, because this whole display ends with a frightening appearance of the STATUE OF THE FIRST EMPEROR OF CARTHAK. No, like, the literal statue comes to life, shows up unscheduled (how was Ozorne calm during this???), then passes along a message in Old Thak, the first language:
“He said ‘Woe.'” The prince’s voice was quiet and even. “And ‘Woe.’ Then he said, ‘Woe to the empire – we are foresaken. The gods are angry!'”
LORD. HOLY SHIT. This is even more blatant than the lightning bolts. Was I surprised that Ozorne wasn’t going to heed this warning? OF COURSE NOT. Instead, I was utterly gobsmacked that this segued into a dream Daine has where the Graveyard Hag visits her and reveals that DAINE IS THAT GOD’S VESSEL. What the shit??? I was impressed that Pierce made it clear that it was Daine’s fortitude and personality that got her chosen as a vessel, not because she may have had a god for a father. (Does that remove the possibility that Weiryn was her father? I guess so.) The Hag says that Daine needs “imagination, a strong will, and determination. And anger – plenty of it.” Which excites me for a very personal reason: I have a whole lot of anger within me as well. I have done what I can to move on from the pain of my upbringing, but, like Daine, the memories of what happened to me will always make me angry. That won’t go away. So what is that going to mean for Daine? How will her anger return to her, and how will she utilize it? And why does the Graveyard Hag insinuate that Daine’s power to bring dead animals to life is important? I don’t get how this is going to help her!
As if this chapter needed any more plot twists, I am done, y’all:
“We were told Ozorne wants Kaddar to marry Kalasin in the spring and bring her here to live. No marriage agreement means no treaty, in spite of the fact that he never mentioned a wedding when he and the king arranged these talks.”
FUCK. FUCK!!! What the hell, Ozorne? Was this whole peace negotiation a sham? Did you trick everyone into coming here just to drop this in their laps? I DON’T LIKE OZORNE.
The final section of chapter six isn’t that upsetting. Yet, I should say. We’ll see what comes of that cliffhanger. After all the drama in this chapter, it was nice that Kaddar and Daine just got to talk with one another while Daine learns about the university system. In particular, I was interested in Kaddar’s opinions on slavery. The man has the moral fortitude to understand human sadness and understands how disgusting Carthaki’s imperialism is, but he’s shocked that someone would dislike slavery? Really, dude??? It’s this dissonance that makes me wonder just what kind of person Kaddar is and where he’ll stand when all the shit comes down at the end of this book.
Oh, hey, what about this?
Daine, watching, noticed something in there that looked uncomfortably like a human form on a bier, covered with a dark cloth.
WHAT THE HELL SECRET IS LINDHALL HIDING IN THAT ROOM??? Oh god, I like Lindhall a lot. Is this going to be something that’ll ruin him for me? I AM SCARED.
“Carthaki Magecraft” ends on a cliffhanger that is totally unfair because why is Numair invisible in Lindhall’s office? Why? WHY IS HE DOING THIS? Ugh, this book is making fun of me. No fair!
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!
– Mark Reads Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is now published and available for purchase! It’s available in ebook AND physical book format, and you can also get a discount for buying the ENTIRE SET of digital books: $25 for 7 BOOKS!!!
– 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!