In the seventeenth chapter of Squire, there was a 0% chance that I could have ever been prepared for this chapter. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Squire.
Chapter Seventeen: The Kraken
WHAT THE HELL THIS WAS NOT FAIR OH MY GOD NO ONE TOLD ME THAT THIS BOOK CONTAINED HOMICIDAL MAGICAL ROBOTS.
- Tamora Pierce literally starts the action in chapter seventeen in the second paragraph. There is virtually no set up for what happens aside from the previous chapter. It’s just pure chaos and everything hurts and what the hell did I just read.
- Again, it’s nice that this battle sequence can be as complex as it is without me feeling confused about what these terms mean or where the characters are.
- Also, what did I just read???
- This might be the most thrilling, heart-pounding scene in all of the Tortall books I’ve read so far. Maybe Daine’s freakout in Emperor Mage beats this? Maybe. I don’t know, y’all, but I lost my shit when – oh, I’ll get there in a minute. I swear.
- Actually, I knew this would be messed up when Lerant reported that there were sixty or so men and two giants headed for Riversedge. The party in Northwatch was bad enough, but two giants? Great. GREAT.
- HOW SUSPENSEFUL IS ALL THIS??? It’s unreal. Every sound is terrifying. Every movement that Kel observes is a possible horrible turn of events. This chapter hurt to read.
- And so Kel is faced with a real, honest-to-Mithros battle that is the most intense, complicated thing she’s ever experienced. She performs brilliantly – was anyone surprised by this? – while doing what she can to keep Raoul in view and protect the people of the caravan that are being attacked.
- And then there’s that brief, unnamed character whose husband died in the caravan in the attack, and I want at least a short story centered around her because I want more of her.
- I felt so bad about Raoul leaving because I knew I’d be devastated if he didn’t survive.
- THEN IT KEEPS GOING. Oh my god, this chapter is the very definition of relentless.
- “Up she went, taking a perilous moment to choose her target: a blond man the size of a bear, frothing at the mouth as Scanrans did when they claimed war demons had possessed them.” LITERALLY FROTHING AT THE MOUTH. Also, I appreciate that Tamora Pierce took a trope so regularly associated with racist depictions of people of color and applied it to the white-passing people here. God, that is so great.
- “Lady Alanna isn’t modest – at least, not about the things she does well.” UGH I JUST LOVE THESE CHARACTERS AND THESE STORIES SO WELL.
- It’s about right at this point that the humor largely disappears from this story, though that’s not a criticism. It needs to. This is not a whimsical adventure, and as two men are hit with arrows near Kel, it was clear to me that this was a transition. This was going to get worse. It certainly got more complicated when Dom points out that there’s a mage in the rear of the Scanran group, one who is clearly gearing up for an attempt to hide his soldiers from view. That’s when Dom comes up with a brilliant idea: using griffin feathers to negate the “deception” that a mage uses. Seriously, it’s genius, and it works.
- And then Raoul is back! And he’s still alive! And then he leaves and I got scared again.
- Derom dies. DAMN IT. So far, it’s all side characters we either never met or were unnamed until their death. THIS IS WORRYING ME.
- “Dom, returning to his post, went down face-first. An arrow was buried in the thick muscle between his neck and shoulder.”
- I wish you could see my face right now.
- I’m leaving that bullet point up as evidence of how my brain sometimes just stops working. You can literally see my face reading that line in the commission video at the end. I swear to Mithros, I didn’t think that one through.
- For real, Dom better survive. HE BETTER.
- And then Kel is ordered to take command of Dom’s squad while he’s carted off by healers. Y’all, this is such a huge moment in Kel’s growth as a knight. The fact that Raoul not only trusts her but knows that promoting Symric is foolish is indicative of what sort of leader he is.
- “This might be the last time they ever spoke.” Oh, fuck you, don’t you dare do this to me. why? WHY????
- “Shurrup,” growled Symric. “Better Kel than me.” I love that Symric is immediately on Team Kel. Wolset? Yeah. I sort of expected that someone might be upset with Kel being in command during her first “battle,” and Wolset’s tired excuses weren’t surprising. Here’s what was, though: I had totally pegged him as the one named character to die during this battle because it seemed so obvious. He was the one who openly defied the “hero” in the chapter, so he was clearly going to die.
- Oh my gods, I was so wrong.
- I mean, there’s even that amazing scene where Kel risks her own life just to scold Wolset and call him a yatter-mouth.” Sure, it’s impractical and risky, but I loved it. And I was certain that this was confirmation that he was going to die!!!
- H E L P.
- And then things get weird. The retreat of the Scanrans doesn’t make sense, the noises are confusing, and Jump/the birds’ reactions are creepy. Something was wrong. Again, I assumed the obvious: There was a giant on its way. They were going to have to fight a giant.
- hah ah a ha aa aah aahaaaahahhhhhhh h h h hhhhhh
- “Kel gaped. She had never seen anything like this. The long, black, curved shaped that served as a head swiveled back and forth on the dull metal body without exposing a neck. The eyes were set deep in the metal, if those dark pits were eyes. The limbs seemed formed of large metal-coated bones – giant bones? – and fine metal chains and rods that acted like muscles. Pulleys served as joints. There were three joints in each limb between the splays of knife-tipped digits on its feet and hands and the limb’s connection to the body. That gave the things two extra elbows and two extra knees. Its slender tailed coiled and whipped, snakelike; it was tipped with a ball of spikes. The whole construction was nearly seven feet tall.”
- I DID NOT SIGN UP FOR THIS!!!
- THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE A FANTASY SERIES WITH MYTHICAL BEASTS AS ITS SOURCE OF CREATION AND I DID NOT SIGN UP FOR A HORRIFYING MECHA-BOT OF DESTRUCTION.
- I REFUSE TO GET OVER THIS. I SERIOUSLY SKIMMED OVER THAT LINE FROM SIR MYLES ABOUT METAL BEASTS AND PAID BARELY ANY ATTENTION TO IT, SO TECHNICALLY THIS IS MY FAULT.
- ACTUALLY, WAIT, NO, I STILL CAN’T GET OVER THIS. A ROBOT POWERED BY MAGIC WHO SPEAKS LIKE A CHILD.
- WHAT BOOK HAVE I SUDDENLY STARTED TO READ?
- Y’all, I cannot fucking deal with any of this. The way that thing jumps up onto Kel’s rock will terrify me until the end of time.
- You better believe I was convinced for a second that Jump would die by robot when he tried to bite it.
- “Symric lunged in, sword raised. The thing took his weapon and beheaded the corporal with its blade-fingers.”
- I am done. I am done with all of you, and done with this book. Can I just start yelling at all of you like I am currently doing with the Fullmetal Alchemist fandom? You know, just blame all of you for ruining my life because SYMRIC WASN’T SUPPOSED TO DIE. WOLSET WAS.
- HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO BE PREPARED FOR THIS BOOK? THIS IS UNFAIR.
- At least Wolset figures out to trap the robot thing’s head first.
- AND THEN KEL GETS REPEATEDLY SMASHED AGAINST A ROCK.
- WHY MUST YOU MAKE ME SUFFER THIS WAY, TAMORA PIERCE?
- JUMP HELPED TIE UP A LEG. BLESS HIM.
- “Now it hacked with it, cutting a long slash in one man’s scalp through metal bones and rods. He shook blood from his eyes and finished the job, giving the free end to his companion.” I don’t even know what to say at this point. This is just… I don’t know. I DON’T KNOW HOW TO DESCRIBE THIS. This scene simultaneously feels like it came out of nowhere and is exactly what should be here.
- “The thing turned its head toward her, it’s mouth on the same level as her face. “Mama?” it asked in a child’s voice.”
- WHAT THE FUCK!!!!
- THIS ROBOT CREATURE WAS ALREADY BAD ENOUGH. WHY WOULD YOU GO AND DO THAT. WHY???? WHY DOES IT TALK LIKE A CHILD? I AM SO SCARED FOR THE MOMENT I FIND OUT WHAT THIS THING IS.
- “White steam, or something like it, hissed from the hole in the thing’s skull. It formed a pale, wavering shape that cried, “Mama?” in the same voice as the monster. The wind blew the shape apart. The creature collapsed against its ropes.”
- Yeah, I’m done with everything. Are you telling me some sort of soul – potentially one that was a child – was in that thing? I am done with every single one of you who got me to agree to read these books. I am but a fragile man. You did this to me.
- I have no idea if this was enough kraken for Kel, but it is sure as hell enough kraken for yours truly. At least Dom, Lerant, and Raoul are all alive, though!
- “What are they cooking, up there in the north?” he asked very quietly. “How many of these things are they going to send us?”
- Oh. Great. A new possibility that I had not even remotely considered. great.
- I have no idea how there is only one chapter left. What have y’all gotten me into???
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