In the prologue and first chapter of The Realms of the Gods, I get a taste of what I’m in store for. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Realms of the Gods.
Prologue / Chapter One: Skinners
- I actually enjoyed the prologue, despite that I don’t normally go for introductions that summarize previous novels in a serialized story like this. Here, it feels like the opening of a fairy tale, a matter-of-fact way of setting the stage. And once it switches to the perspective of those in Tortall, it really works. Shifting through the various folks who had magic, we’re given the sense that something massive and life-changing just happened.
- Let me just warn you ahead of time: A lot of this review will feature me going, “HOW DID I NOT THINK TO PREDICT THIS???” There’s a misconception in my last predictions post, and it’s that Tamora Pierce didn’t give me much to go on for The Realms of the Gods. I’m totally wrong. We knew that the Carthaki mages had opened gates into the Divine Realms, we knew Kaddar was going to destroy the spells that kept them open, and then… yeah, THIS ACTUALLY WASN’T TOTALLY RESOLVED. But I didn’t really think about it at all! So it makes sense that the magical barrier would be weakened by what Ozorne and his mages did. But to be put out completely? Oh god, this is going to be a disaster, isn’t it?
- So, a Stormwing is in the opening of chapter one, so I assumed that they were observing Daine and her friends for… well, I entertained this idea that it might be Rikash, and he might want to help Daine after what she did for him. Well, that theory lasted like two minutes. OH WELL.
- HOW DID I NOT THINK TO MAKE A PREDICTION ABOUT OZORNE? Come on, Mark! If you don’t see a body, they’re not dead and gone. And even then, dead bodies still come back in Tortall. But it completely slipped my mind. I guess that I was so satisfied with the end of Emperor Mage that I didn’t need anything else wrapped up. That meant I was woefully unprepared. HELP ME, I AM GOING TO BE MORE UNPREPARED THAN USUAL.
- “The Stormwing brushed the latch with a steel claw; the top flipped back. Inside lay five small, lumpy, flesh-colored balls. They wriggled slightly as he watched.” OH MY GOD, I LITERALLY JUST REALIZED WHAT THESE WERE WHILE RE-READING THE CHAPTER FOR THIS REVIEW. OH MY GOD. IT’S THE SKINNERS. So who is their mistress???
- Inar Hadensra isn’t going to survive this book. I’m calling it. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if he killed Ozorne before he died.
- WHAT THE HELL IS THAT BLACK POOL??? Is it a living creature? Another immortal? Did it later become the Black Oil from The X-Files?
- No book in this quartet (or Song of the Lioness, for that matter) has ever began with such chaos. It’s overwhelming. In the pages that follow Ozorne’s departure, Tamora Pierce gives us a visceral, brutal, and terrifying glimpse of what Tortall is like now that the Divine Realms have spilled out into the world, and how this has also affected Tortall’s relations with other nations. Not only are an untold number of fairly horrific creatures attacking all over the kingdom with no rhyme or reason, but Tortall’s enemies have taken this opportunity to either side with the immortals or to use the chaos as a chance to attack where Tortall is weak. It’s awful, and we can see how bad this is in Daine, Numair, and Kitten’s total exhaustion.
- By the way, twelve goddamn weeks have passed since the prologue. That’s three straight months of constant attacks and absurdity. HOW??? HOW?
- Then, as if Numair and Daine needed another complication, a main named Ulmer arrives from the village of Greenhall with reports of a new immortal. This one is not only LITERALLY immortal, as nothing seems able to stop the creatures, but it SKINS LIVING THINGS ALIVE WITH A TOUCH. NO. NOPE. NO FOREVER.
- It’s not the most crucial detail ever, but I’m kind of into the idea that Port Legann is closed off with GIANT CHAINS. That’s it. Bless. It’s so marvelously simple.
- As soon as Pierce used the phrase “dead zone,” I thought of Stephen King.
- Anyway, not the point! This is: “Gliding over the last bank of living trees, she found the Skinners. There were five in all: wet, flesh-colored, two-legger things. They had no eyes, ears, noses, or mouths, but they didn’t seem to require such niceties. They forged ahead blindly, touching anything that lived. When they did, plants became dull instead of glossy. Tree bark vanished. Within seconds, vegetation went dark, brittle, dead. As the creatures touched things, parts of their own flesh changed color – brown, green, reddish, like bark or leaves in texture. Those patches would grow, shrink, and vanish rapidly.”
- There is nothing in Tortall that I have across that quite terrifies me and inspires me to run away shrieking quite like the Skinners. There is not enough NOPE in the entire world. I don’t like them at all. They scare me on a spiritual level, I swear. Oh god, so you know that sequence where Daine tries to communicate with them and everything just goes all awful? WHAT IF THEY CAN SKIN MAGIC AWAY FROM HER? What else would cause a “hole” in her magic like that?
- “The Skinners had formed a circle. Their eyeless heads were turned up, as if they could see her.” You stop that right fucking now. What the hell has this book become already? This is some Hellraiser bullshit, and I am not having this.
- And then they attack that hare, and suddenly, this is a horror film, and I did not sign up for this series to have it scare the shit out of me. What the hell!!!! HOW IS DAINE GOING TO DEFEAT THESE THINGS???
- Luckily, after freeing some chickens, she meets up with Numair. Okay, two against five is slightly better odds. I was worried Daine would have to face them alone. Even better, Numair’s amazing ability to blow the Skinners apart seemed to be the one thing that would give them the advantage over these creatures. Daine was a good shot, so I didn’t feel so bad!
- “Swiftly each of the Skinner chunks doubled, redoubled, and spread. Each sprouted a pair of stumps to stand on, and stretched. Now there were ten Skinners, five large and five smaller ones. Their attention fixed on her and Numair, they came at a run.”
- I didn’t agree to read The Immortals so that I could have nightmares. THIS IS NOT PART OF THE CONTRACT, GODDAMN IT. What is this? Why is this? WHY MUST I EXIST IN A WORLD WHERE SOMETHING LIKE IS EVEN THOUGHT OF?
- “The ground before the advancing Skinners ripped open. They dropped into the crevasse.”
- THIS IS WHY. SO THAT MY LIFELONG DREAM OF THE EARTH OPENING UP AND EATING FOES COULD ACTUALLY HAPPEN. NUMAIR, YOU HAVE MADE ME VERY HAPPY.
- “Five spots near them exploded as Skinners leaped free of the ground.” YOU CAN’T THWART THE MOST PERFECT REVENGE FANTASY EVER. YOU CAN’T! YOU WERE EATEN BY THE EARTH. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE???
- And then those hands grabbed Daine, and I panicked. Oh my god, the Skinners had gotten her, and this was THE FIRST CHAPTER.
- Except they didn’t. Because Daine just got pulled into the Divine Realms by the badger god. REMINDER: THIS IS THE FIRST CHAPTER.
- It’s her mother
- Her mom.
- IT’S DAINE’S MOTHER.
- HER MOTHER IS HERE.
- I AM GOING TO CRY.
- DAINE IS GOING TO SEE HER MOTHER AGAIN.
- “She was twelve again, and in her bed in Galla.” Welcome to Tamora Pierce’s writing, where she’s able to destroy you with a single sentence.
- “This is your father,” Sarra told Daine. “This is the god Weiryn.”
- Well, this is how Tamora Pierce is going to write a book better than the three before it in The Immortals. This is what she’s going to do to us in the first fucking chapter.
Mark Links Stuff
– 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!