In the second chapter of The Realms of the Gods, Daine explores the Divine Realms. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Realms of the Gods.
Chapter Two: Meetings with Gods
Well, I can tell I’m going to love this.
I never thought I’d get such an intimate look at the Divine Realms. After the brief peak in Emperor Mage, I wasn’t sure we’d ever return there for a significant length of time. Maybe another moment where Daine popped in again, but not five days. And that’s just so far!
While Tamora Pierce spends a great deal of time giving us some impressing and stunning worldbuilding in this chapter, it’s the emotional moments from Daine and her parents that really make this memorable. That’s due in part from the fact that Daine has been reunited with her Ma and Da, something I never even thought would be a part of this series. And while they all miss one another and are glad to be together, this story is not without some moments of pain and awkwardness. I mean, the very first thing that happens in this chapter involves Sarra scolding Daine for acting strange to her Da. It takes this entire chapter for both characters to better understand one another, but at the start, Daine is overhwhelmed and unsure how she’s supposed to react. Her whole world’s been turned on its head in a matter of hours!
It’s here that we finally get a solid introduction of Weiryn, who is kind to Daine, but actsâ€¦ well, let me borrow a word from Daine. He’s aloof. He’s detached, and he certainly acts like he’s a god. He doesn’t seem all that pleased that Numair came through with Daine, despite that he readily admits that they both would have died had Weiryn not pulled them into the Divine Realms. Soooooooooooâ€¦ that’s awkward, dude.
Then Tamora Pierce just casually mentions that there is another realm, the Chaos Realm, where Uusoae wages a war against the Divine Realms. Like, I don’t even understand this at all, and I don’t care. THERE’S A FOURTH REALM, Y’ALL. How many are there??? Oh god, I love parallel worlds so much. I will never stop loving them.
Right, back to awkward:
“You taught me a woman has to know how to defend herself.”
“I never!” gasped Sarra, indignant.
“You taught me when you were murdered in your own house,” Daine said quietly.
I need to compile a book of DESTRUCTION BY SINGLE SENTENCES or something, because this would be one of the top ones. Like, here is a succinct summary of why Daine has become who she is, and she just spoke it to the very mother who died in her own house.
There are a few moments in this chapter where Daine has glimpses of her own mortal realm, one occurring during a long bout of sleep. So, she still has a connection to her world, one that allows her to see things happening. (I assume they’re happening in real time; I don’t consider them to be visions.) Just in terms of the story, they serve to remind Daine that there’s a horrific war raging at home, one that is rapidly spiraling out of control. I like the placement of this first one because what follows makes Daine feel conflicted.
From the moment she wakes from her FOUR DAY SLEEP (!!!!), Daine gets a chance to explore this realm, and it is ridiculous. It is! That’s not meant as a negative descriptor here; it’s just that the Divine Realms really are as divine as I had hoped they would be. Gods walk freely, speaking with Daine openly. (She can’t use her wild magic to converse with any of the animal gods since they’re immortal.) There is a duckmole god, who I want to be best friends with. HE LITERALLY VISITS DAINE’S MA JUST FOR HER COOKING DURING THE WARM SEASONS. There are seasons in the Divine Realms!
Pierce really holds nothing back in the scenes that follow, filling them with descriptive prose that highlights the true beauty and wonder of this place. I don’t feel the need to go through each and every detail (though let me FREAK OUT about sunbirds because OH MY GOD THEY ARE AMAZING), but I did want to address a few details:
- I’m really loving the idea that all things in the Divine Realms are the essence of what they are in the mortal world, so they’re more fulfilling and tasty than Daine is used to. I WOULD REALLY LOVE SOME OF SARRA’S PORRIDGE.
- Even the gods have to cope with the fact that their realm was designed by “gods” who dropped chaos vents all over the place. I still don’t get how the Chaos Realm works, but I’m intrigued by it. I’d like to know more!
- I do not trust that darking. I am pretty sure it’s the same ink blob that Ozorne had in the opening of chapter one. If it’s not, then I am completely confused as to what it is.
- Queenclaw is my goddamn cats, I swear to gods she is.
While I certainly don’t want to discount the importance of all the worldbuilding, I found that Daine’s interactions with her parents are the most significant parts of chapter two. Daine now has to cope with the fact that her Ma is a god, the Green Lady, who now provides help in childbirth and healing to the people of Snowsdale. How’s that for tragic irony? The very people who turned against her and especially Daine now ask her for help. But for Daine, it’s an unsettling thought. If her mother is a god, does that change her very identity? I loved this part:
She loved her mother, but there was no denying that Sarra needed looking after. Without it, she would seek plants on a cloudy day without taking a hat. Gods were dignified, all-knowing, all-powerful creatures, weren’t they?
I adore that Daine latches on to a single, simplistic detail: her mother not using a hat. That’s how she tries to understand this! (It also highlights the fact that her mother hasn’t been in her life for years if this is how she views her.) Have her mother’s faults and idiosyncrasies been washed away with divine power? Will Daine even recognize her anymore?
At the same time, we realize that Daine’s insistence that she needs to go home have hurt Sarra. I’m happy that Pierce also allows the narrative to see things from Sarra’s point of view. Plus, it contributes to the conflict building within Daine: Does she stay in this wonderful place, or does she go home?
But I wanted to end with my single favorite moment in the chapter. Daine’s father is very god-like. He has a less-than-impressed view of mortals and a heightened sense of his own importance. Which is not to suggest that he isn’t an important god, but it’s clearly inflated to a small degree. Of course, that’s just my perception of him; he has such a detached view of humanity that Daine actually argues with him, defending her “sentimentality” towards living creatures and humans.
Oh god, are you ready for this?
He sounded like those humans who claimed that poverty made the poor into nobler souls.
I HAVE LITERALLY HAD PEOPLE TELL ME VARIATIONS ON THIS. TO MY FACE. When I lost my job and had to drop out of school, I had to borrow money from a friend who was rather well-off so I could not get evicted from my apartment. He told me that I shouldn’t have a problem getting through this bump in my life since I grew up poor. When I countered that I didn’t want to be poor, he seriously told me that he envied me because I could still have a pure soul. Oh my god, FUCK YOU. Really? REALLY?
So bless you, Daine, and bless you, Tamora Pierce. I am so happy this line is in the book. It’s brilliant.
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