In the tenth chapter of The Realms of the Gods, Daine faces Ozorne and Uusoae. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Realms of the Gods.
Chapter Ten: Judgments
I can’t believe there’s an epilogue left and this is all over. I don’t want this to end at ALL. I have loved this so much.
Bah. Let’s get to this!
I’m splitting this review up to deal with the two main plots that Pierce resolves in this chapter. For the first half of “Judgments,” we are given a brutal, violent, and gory fight between Ozorne and Daine as she refuses to give up without attempting to end us life once and for all. That’s such a powerful decision on her part because we know she doesn’t take life lightly. The fact that she wants to kill Ozorne (justifiably so!) is a big deal! Plus, she’s so single-minded about it; she puts aside her concern for Numair because she knows she needs to end Ozorne’s life now, or he’ll probably just repeat this all over again.
I love that their fight starts with verbal sparring because so much of their initial contact was a form of the same thing back in Emperor Mage. Granted, Daine was testing the waters back then, trying to figure out how she felt about the emperor, but it’s still important. This is what they’ve come to: trading insults. (Which is also fascinating when you see how she chooses to deal with Ozorne insulting her versus how she treated Rikash doing essentially the same thing. She trusted Rikash, she knew that his jibes came from a good place, and she also didn’t hate everything he stood for.)
This exchange only lasts a page or two before the trap Ozorne set is completely annihilated by Daine, Leaf, and Jelly. It’s awe-inspiring how quickly they disable the winged apes and the Stormwings. It’s also why this is so upsetting:
The two darkings flared crimson, and exploded.
Nope. Nope. Goddamn it, Ozorne, YOU KILLED ANTHROPOMORPHIZED BLOBS. You are dead to me. Seriously! Only Tamora Pierce could create literal blobs of Ozorne’s blood and make me develop an emotional attachment to them. Distraught, I worried that we’d see Daine in a similar state to the one at the end of Emperor Mage. In a sense, she is the same. She’s motivated by the loss of her friends, and she’s desperate for revenge. But this has a different context and feel to it. Daine knows that killing Ozorne will stop this cycle from repeating again, so her battle with him is far more furious and terrifying.
This is one of the more exhausting fight sequences I’ve ever read, and Pierce constantly keeps us engaged in the logistics of the situation. She conveys how tired Daine and Ozorne are; she reminds us that they’re both broken and bleeding; she relates the severity of this to us. We are shown that Daine’s power to shapeshift is not unlimited, just as Ozorne’s magic is finite. My god, that moment that Daine becomes like “a Chaos thing myself” is so scary! It’s not that I thought she would become that, but that she had resorted to such random transformations and drained her energy. Could she control them anymore?
It’s fitting, then, that the badger claw given to her many books ago is the thing that saves her. Again, this fight is perhaps the most violent imagery in all of Tortall so far, but it needs to be. There’s something symbolic to me in Daine slashing Ozorne’s throat and belly, by having his life spill over her. She is the one who remains. And their fight really was one about death and life all along.
Good riddance, Ozorne. You won’t be missed.
I am both entirely pleased and frustrated by how the entire subplot with Uusoae and the gods is resolved, though my frustration has nothing to do with the writing and everything to do with me being sad. And my emotions are all that matters, obviously. But when Daine was transported to that weird realm of nothingness that belonged to Father Universe and Mother Flame, I KNEW SHIT HAD GOTTEN THE REALEST. Oh my god, I have really, really enjoyed the weirdness in this book, and this takes the cake:
“Still, to follow one’s nature is no excuse to openly defy one’s parents. Return to the confines of your own realm, Uusoae. There you will be confined in a cage of dead matter and starfire until your mother and I feel better about you.”
THE PARENTS OF THE UNIVERSE LITERALLY GROUND UUSOAE AND SEND HER TO HER ROOM. It’s so deceptively simple, and I ADORE EVERY SECOND OF IT. And then my happiness turns into this bittersweet sadness as Daine faces the gods she’s met and interacted with over the course of this series. But nothing punched me right in the heart quite like this:
Beside the Sun Lord a black cat slumbered in a silver chair. The Great God tried to shoo it away, but the cat refused to take the hint.
NO. NO, IT CAN’T BE!!!
She held out a hand for it to smell. It did so, examined her with bright purple eyes, then sat in front of her and began to wash.
OH MY GOD, IT’S FAITHFUL. I am so done with this book forever and ever. And that’s not even the only thing here that destroys me. It’s like Tamora Pierce turns this into a procession of everything I’ve loved in this book just to remind me that it’s all ending. The badger god. Broad Foot. Gold-streak. Oh my god, Godl-streak’s statement alone was enough to ruin me, and it keeps going. Gainel comforts Daine, giving her his coat to help heal her wounds.
There’s one thing that Pierce has done consistently, and it’s portraying the gods as distinctly nonhuman in their behavior. They come from a different world, quite literally, and they don’t act as we would. So while I am irritated by Mithros’s decision, I get why he would act in a way that seems rude to us. He basically forces Daine to make a choice, and it’s done in a way that almost seems like he blames her for what’s happened in the mortal realms, the Divine Realms, and the realm of Chaos. Truthfully, it’s not her fault at all; she was just an acting part in the whole thing. (And I do appreciate that the dragons are furious with Mithros; Diamondflame and Kitten both take Mithros to task for a terrible decision.) Regardless, she has to make a choice: Does she return home to the mortal realm or does she become a lesser goddess in the Divine Realms? Oh my god, what a painful predicament, y’all! How? How can she value one over the other? How can she break her promise to her mother? How can she leave Numair behind?
Yet amidst this, Daine still has the fortitude to recommend that the Stormwings remain with the mortals. Like, she’s got this life-changing decision in front of her, and she still takes the time to defend the very nature of the Stormwings. MY GOD, THE CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT PRESENT HERE IS SO BEAUTIFUL. I can’t forget how I was once repulsed by their very presence, and now I’m saddened by the death of one of their leaders. This is good writing. I mean, COME ON:
“You’ll forgive me for saying so, but you don’t look like you’d care to punish yourselves.”
EVEN IN THIS TRAUMATIZING SCENE, SHE STILL HAS TIME TO BE SASSY RIGHT TO THE GODS’ FACES. I love her. I LOVE HER SO MUCH, Y’ALL. And then the badger god gives her his support, and I am so done.
Wait, no, I’m not. Tamora Pierce doesn’t allow this. Because then, Sarra comes to her daughter, releasing her of the promise she made, urging her to go and be with Numair. It is so goddamn beautiful, y’all:
“Seeing you here taught me you’re adult now. You’re needed, and you’re valued, and you’re loved. Those are wondrous gifts, sweetling. I can’t let you throw them away.”
Sarra. Sarra. My heart was just so proud and sad and a million things all at once. Her mother loved her enough to let her go. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO DEAL WITH ALL THESE FEELINGS AT ONCE? At least the badger god is still going to check in on Daine, but the dragons will be leaving, as well as the darkings, who will be living in the Dragonlands for the time being. As Daine bid goodbye to these beings and gods, it was a way for me to say goodbye as well. This is the last time I’ll see most of these characters. But getting one moment with Sarra as the Green Lady? Oh god, you are purposely trying to destroy me, aren’t you, Tamora Pierce?
I can’t believe I have just one epilogue left in this quartet. I DON’T WANT THIS TO END.
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