Mark Reads ‘Trickster’s Choice’: Chapter 4

In the fourth chapter of Trickster’s Choice, Aly begins to understand just how complicated her wager with Kyprioth is going to be. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Trickster’s Choice.

Chapter Four: The Road

THIS IS REALLY GREAT? And this book is utterly unlike anything in the Tortall universe. This idea of essentially making Aly a slave and a spy at the same time makes for exciting reading and rich character development. And I can’t get over the fact that this is a new character in a new duology and she is already changing and growing. Yes? YES.

Also: KUDARUNG. There are flying horses in the Isles!!!! Not hurroks, but just regular ol’ horses who can fly!!! CAN ALY FLY ONE, PLEASE? THANKS.

Well, that’s probably not going to happen, especially given that Ulasim reveals that the luarin king bred the horses against raka tradition. And I like that the text itself criticizes Aly when it needs to happen, like in the instance where she’s insensitive in her curiosity about the kudarung. Aly’s doing her best to learn as much as she can about this culture, but it was only a matter of time before she messed up. She takes in stride, too, knowing that it’s not about her. Take note, racists.

This chapter comprises a long and treacherous walk to Tanair Castle from Dimari, where the Balitangs will be spending their exile, and along the way, SO MUCH HAPPENS:

  • With one exception, the raka continue to eerily gaze upon the party, especially the two Balitang daughters, as they pass. NOT ONE RAKA EVER SAYS ANYTHING AND I AM SO CONFUSED.
  • The food described in this book so far has all sounded so delicious that I’m just angry. I want it!
  • A NEW SETTING! We get to experience the jungles of the Isles, and it’s awesome.
  • But the main plot thread here is Aly’s suspicion that there’s something deeply wrong with the silence and lack of raka once they’re in the jungles. This is significant because it’s the first time Aly is put to the test. She’s got to protect Dove and Sarai, but she has to do so in a way that doesn’t expose her true intentions. Because of all the world- and character building prior to this, we know the stakes. We know how complicated this is going to be for her. She’s got to navigate her way through slave narratives, what’s expected of her from the luarin, and what’s expected of her from the duke and duchess, who are only aware that she’s been touched by a god.
  • And she does this BEAUTIFULLY. Yes, she comes very close to revealing a bit too much. I suspect that Fesgao is on to Aly, but other than that, she’s able to get someone else to raise the issue with the duke and duchess, and then she mildly suggests the very plan that takes care of the robbers.
  • However, the end result of Aly’s plan doesn’t turn out as she anticipated, and for a moment, this chapter got immensely uncomfortable. Killing some of the robbers turns out to be the easiest solution to the problem presented to the Balitangs, since it will reduce the chance of more raka coming after the party to rescue those captured; plus, then there won’t be any left to attack any caravans that follow them.
  • And yet, it’s also the most difficult solution because Aly, Mequen, Dove, and Sarai know that these specific raka men are absolutely poor. The evidence of their poverty (which was the result of luarin imperialism) is staring them in the face. These people can’t live any worse, so what is killing them going to do?
  • Of course, then there’s Sergeant Veron, who is a stereotypical luarin to a T. The dude still refers to raka people as dogs, openly and with malice. Ugh, I like exactly no parts of him. Not a one.
  • Amidst the decision that Duke Mequen has to make is the ongoing absurdity that is the raka’s obsession with Dove and Sarai. Y’all, the book is seriously taunting me to my face at this point. I can’t figure this out, and it hurts. A god and the raka people revere these two young women as if they are gods themselves. I don’t get it! Who was their mother? Why do the raka robbers refuse to hurt them? What is happening?
  • I’m with Aly, though: I felt all kinds of things for Sarai and Dove, who refuse to entertain any option of dealing with the robbers that involves their death. I can’t ignore that they’re half-raka, and I assume that plays a part in why they refuse inhuman treatment of these people. In the end, it’s Dove who comes up with idea to enslave the robbers making them swear a blood oath to prevent them from turning on their owners. (Okay, I have to comment on the idea of blood oaths because holy shit that is so brutal.) It’s the best solution that protects the Balitangs without committing murder. (Though I’m utterly confused as to why the rakas thank Sarai after her sister was the one who saved them.)
  • It speaks to something within these two girls. They have refused to turn themselves over to luarin mythologies and prejudices, even when it doesn’t benefit them, and I was just so proud of them, especially Dove.

That being said, I can’t figure this out. I recognize that Aly is in a precarious situation, so it’s not like she can just go up to anyone and ask them. She’s luarin to most of the raka, so it’s way too complicated for that. Still, I’m totally fascinated by where this story has gone already. I haven’t been so unprepared so quickly before, have I?

Please note that the original text uses the words “idiot” and “lame” (in the context of a horse).

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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