In the ninth chapter of Lady Knight, Kel has a grim experience at Fort Mastiff. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Lady Knight.
Chapter Nine: Mastiff
Ugh, this is a difficult experience, and I seriously appreciate that Tamora Pierce isn’t making this easy for the reader. But my heart hurts.
I’m thankful that Pierce is able to show us that Kel still has negative feelings, that she’s able to express disappointment or jealousy. To be fair to her, though, a lot of her jealousy stems from the fact that she has less supplies, less troops, less support, and less space. I think it’s totally natural to feel like she’s getting the short end of the stick here. Who wouldn’t feel this way? At the same time, she recognizes that she’s got a job to do, and she accepts what duty requires of her.
Still, it’s hard not to be envious of Fort Mastiff, Wyldon’s meticulously organized operation. It really was an awe-inspiring place, and I know Kel would feel like she was actually helping in the war against the Scanrans if that was the case. Except you are helping Kel, you just don’t know. I just want to surround Kel in hugs sometimes.
Owen of Jesslaw is too adorable for words. Prince Roald is really grumpy, though for a good reason. Harailt! AND LORD WYLDON. UGH. LORD WYLDON. I kept waiting to see if any other surprises were hiding in Mastiff, but no such luck.
Which brings up another point: I was terrified that someone Kel knew was killed at Giantkiller. 🙁
Actually, we need to talk about this. Owen accidentally let’s it slip that Giantkiller fell, which is devastating in and of itself, but the implications of it are horrifying. First, I was afraid that Raoul died because my brain just assumed that this had to do Raoul. Phew. However, this is such a horrible loss for the Tortallan side, and I think it’s also a way for Tamora Pierce to show us what war means. You could call the loss at Giantkiller a setback, but the reality of it is always right there. People died. They lost friends and soldiers. Refugees were kidnapped to be forced into slavery or murdered for Blayce’s killing machines. The horrors of war never feel like these abstract ideas. No, Pierce is always reminding us of how awful this all is. In particular, she uses Owen, who is constantly the most joyous and optimistic character, to reveal the massacre at Giantkiller. Here’s a kid so full of promise and hope, and he’s the one who sees what war does to people. I think that’s intentional! Even if it’s not, I think it’s very significant that the examination of war in Lady Knight is as grim as it is, even if Kel and her friends are winning battles.
Kel’s Meeting and Her Disappointment
I was certainly looking forward to Kel’s meeting with Lord Wyldon not only because I’ve come to enjoy Wyldon so much, but because I was eager to hear what he thought of how she was running things. Very quickly into their meeting, he grants her 30 more soldiers, which isn’t enough, but he admits that she needs more than she has. It’s a good sign! And as Wyldon updates Kel on what’s going on with the war, she can’t recognize that he is satisfied with how she’s run Haven. Even after everything she’s been through so far, she still itches to be on the battlefield, not running a camp for refugees. Part of that is due to the Chamber’s mission that she’s been given, and I imagine she wouldn’t feel as strongly had she not been tasked with stopping Blayce. Still, she thinks she’s not being utilized well, and she has this bizarre hope that the complaints sent to Wyldon (mainly from Idrius Valestone what a cad) will get her taken away from Haven. Oh gods, she still doesn’t see it! She’s literally the best knight to run a place like Haven! She still thinks a knight’s value is in fighting, which I don’t blame her for necessarily. That’s what she learned, you know? And it doesn’t help that people in Haven often tell her that the only reason she’s commander at Haven is to keep her from battle. She’s starting to believe that herself, despite that Wyldon exhibits every bit of confidence in her as commander. HE SMILED AT HER, Y’ALL. It’s too much.
It’s yet another difficult aspect of this chapter. Kel’s feelings about her service are complicated, and I’m thankful that Pierce is exploring them.
The Killing Machines
Yeah, I’m with Harailt: the killing devices worry me, too! There are so many of them, and while Kel’s found their one weakness, they are unfortunately rather easy to create. Even worse, as they’re used to capture more refugees, that just means Blayce can make more devices. And who would blame the soldiers for being downright terrified of the things? They FRIGHTEN THE HELL OUT OF ME.
But that’s how desperate Maggur is to win. He will associate himself with someone who murders children out of some perverse desire because he knows it will eventually win him the war. (And Scanran children are apparently not used for the devices, either.) However, the big moment in this chapter comes after Neal angrily wonders aloud why the gods haven’t intervened:
“But the gods have their own notion of time,” continued the Wildmage. “It isn’t ours, and sometimes they come at things in a way we see as, well, cockeyed. They may prefer to work through a human vessel.”
Obviously, she’s speaking from experience. (Specifically the events of Emperor Mage.) But Kel suddenly realizes that this applies to her, and she’s overwhelmed with guilt. How is she supposed to stop Blayce if she’s stuck at Haven? The Chamber had said her path would cross with his, but how is that possible if she’s never moving? I guess that suggests that Blayce will end up at Haven somehow, but I don’t see how that’s possible yet. Maybe he’ll have forces attack the place? But then… what? And why would the Chamber god let so many people die before this fated crossing of lives?
Ugh, this is all a scary, grim mess. War is awful, y’all.
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