In the sixth chapter of The Realms of the Gods, Daine and Numair learn of the horrifying stakes of their journey. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Realms of the Gods.
Chapter Six: Chess Game
I admit that I am not sure I completely understand what happens here, but I’m okay with that. I’m enjoying the otherwordly surreality of this chapter. It’s a complex set of plot twists that reflect on how dire it is that Numair and Daine get to the Dragonlands, and now that I know that Gainel is based on Sandman/Morpheus, it also serves as a gorgeous love letter to The Sandman.
So, first things first! I am truly fascinated by the use and development of the darkings. We are witnessing an entire “species,” so to speak, come into their own, develop their own consciousness, and realize that they have agency. It helps to distract from the fact that they are quite literally made of Ozorne’s blood. Their origin might be relentlessly disturbing if you think about it, BUT I CHOOSE NOT TO BECAUSE ONE OF THEM WEARS A LEAF HAT. But seriously, Gold-streak is heading off with the badger to convince its brethren to refuse Ozorne’s control! That’s kind of amazing, though I’m worried about how Ozorne is going to react to them. If he can harm them with his Stormwing magic, what’s he going to do when he realizes the entire spy network that he created has revolted against him?
Amidst this, I feel like the bulk of “Chess Game” alternately deals with the revelations about Uusoae and the further growth of Numair and Daine as a couple. Come on, I’m not even turning on my shipping abilities here, and it’s obvious these two are adorable until the end of time. Ahem:
Numair reached, as if he wanted to stroke her cheek, then dropped his hand.
OH, YOU. You are so cute, Numair. It’s significant aside from the fact that I enjoy all things cute and romantic these days. Which is a big development for me! Oh god, when I started this site, I’d been six months off of a terrible and traumatic break-up, and my gods, I WAS SO BITTER. I hated romance and all depictions of it. Granted, I went straight into the love triangle of The Hunger Games, which is not my favorite part of that trilogy, but still. The fact that I can be so much more attuned to what’s happening to Numair and Daine is a big deal to me. It’s like I’ve finally been able to accept the fact that I can feel these things again, you know?
Anyway, I found it amusing that Broad Foot was fascinated by how well Numair and Daine packed up their camp. I bet he ships them, too. YOU KNOW HE DOES. Oh god, is he writing real-person fanfiction in his spare time? Don’t answer that.
I think it was clever of Tamora Pierce to build up the terror of the Mauler, only to have him amount to not much more than a practical joke. Yes, he is a real creature, but he basically toyed with Numair and Daine as they crossed that bridge. And I respect an immortal creature who knows how to terrify others for his own amusement. I tip my hat to you, sir!
And then we get to Daine’s dream. Y’all, there’s no shame here. I really don’t understand everything I read. I got the sense that the complicated, repetitive chess game was a dream manifestation of how the gods and Uusoae battled, though it’s entirely possible that it was a literal battle, too. I don’t know for sure, and I’m actually excited to see how y’all read this sequence. I will say that it fits, and that was what was most important to me about this section. Daine and Numair are visiting a dream world essentially, and Pierce uses her complex storytelling to give us a sense for how strange and distinctly non-human the place is.
It’s through this that we learn just how serious Uusoae’s presence is. Her ally in her quest to access the half of the mortal realm that she was forbidden to use – whether immortal or human – is the key to unraveling her attempts to destroy both the Divine and mortal realms. Whoever it is has to be killed, and I understood that this was a way to basically notify Father Universe and Mother Flame to what Uusoae is doing. Oh god, WHO ARE THEY? WHAT DO THEY LOOK LIKE? Oh, that whole part of the story is going to be ridiculous, isn’t it? Anyway, the easy answer seems to be Ozorne, but I’m hesitant to go straight for the simplest explanation. Is it possible someone else is Uusoae’s ally? How prepared am I?
Very little, as it turns out, because after this, it’s revealed that the Three Sorrows – Malady, Starvation, and Slaughter – have also been unleashed on the mortal realm. CAN SOMETHING GOOD HAPPEN TO THESE PEOPLE??? I commented in the video reading of this chapter that this experience has to be terribly frustrating for Daine and Numair. As they see how hunger, violence, and sickness ravages their world, they are faced with the fact that they can only witness this happening. They’re stuck in a realm where it’s impossible for them to help out their friends. This is never more apparent then when they have to choose which one of the Three Sorrows that Broad Foot is going to capture. While I certainly respect the choice the two make, I can’t imagine having to choose between three terrible things, knowing that Starvation and Slaughter will have free reign of Tortall.
THERE IS TOO MUCH GOING ON AT ONCE, AND I AM SCARED. Thankfully, we do get confirmation that the badger and Gold-streak have managed to claim the northern darkings to their side, but this is the last bit of positive news before THE WORST. THE WORST. Okay, wait, the pair’s journey through the desert at night is shockingly gorgeous, and it’s some of Tamora Pierce’s best writing. I am biased because I love nature? And I basically grew up right outside of the desert, so I know exactly what Pierce was describing as she talked about jutting rocks and sage bushes that impossibly clung to the ground. She was distracting me, getting me to appreciate the beauty of this place, before she metaphorically dropped me off a cliff. (Har har.) Daine experiences another Chaos attack where her magic feels like it has been ripped from her, and then:
Numair cried out. She looked up: A gray stone arm was wrapped around him, lifting him off his feet. Rocky, grinding sounds filled the air as the other stones began to move. Fumbling to get her bow up, Daine stepped back to get a cleaner shot.
The rim of the canyon broke under her weight. With a shriek, she dropped, bow tumbling out of her grip.
NO. GODDAMN IT, NO! She can’t fall, WHERE IS SHE FALLING TO? What’s at the bottom? THIS IS AWFUL. Also, WHY ARE THE MOUNTAINS MOVING???? Are these stone gods or something? Odds bobs, I AM SO DONE.
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