Mark Reads ‘Trickster’s Choice’: Chapter 5

In the fifth chapter of Trickster’s Choice, Aly does what she can to settle in at Tunair while keeping an eye on Dove and Sarai. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Trickster’s Choice.

Chapter Five: Settling In

I’m just realizing that the “mystery” at the heart of this is barely hidden as a mystery in the narrative itself. Oh my god, the prologue alone told me the answer to this. So it’s neat to me that Tamora Pierce essentially gives us the reason why Kyprioth and the raka are so obsessed with Dove and Sarai. Instead of deflating the story, I’m now more excited than ever because THIS IS ESSENTIALLY AN OPPRESSION REVENGE STORY. Isn’t it? This is about the raka finding one of their own who is a direct descendent of Sarugani and bringing her to power. But… there are two daughters? WHICH ONE WILL BE QUEEN? Both? Can it be both? Okay, I’m jumping way ahead of the narrative, but this idea that the savior ISN’T THE MAIN CHARACTER is also so fucking great, y’all, because I would have had exactly no interest in Aly becoming the new ruler of the Isles. Instead, her task is to protect other people, and… well, wait, it’s a lot more complicated than that. Let’s get into this.

Aly’s Demotion

Seriously, when you stop and think about it, Aly’s “demotion” is certainly a surreal event. She’s offered freedom from being a slave, she refuses it, and then she gets more work. But this is what she needs to do in order to satisfy Kyprioth’s wager. If she is to keep these girls safe, she has to be unassuming. She’ll become an exception, the center of attention, if the rest of the slaves find out that one of the only luarin slaves was just freed. Given that she has to try and glean as much information from her raka companions as possible, being freed would have been a disaster. Mequen and Winnamine react fairly appropriately to Aly: They’re shocked and bewildered. I think a lot of that came from how open Aly was. Despite that she is deceiving them for her own reasons, she’s very direct with them, and you can tell they’re both unused to slaves or women speaking to them as Aly does. But she has to gain their trust by demonstrating that she knows what she’s doing, and through her outward displays of confidence, I think she’s able to do that. Still, I can’t ignore how weird this is, only because I never expected the duke and duchess to offer freedom to Aly. I believe that she’s clever to reject the offer, and the role she comes up with in response will allow her a better chance to get to know Tunair Castle and the people who inhabit than if she’d just been a servant.

The Crows

Does this technically count as wild magic? Regardless, Tamora Pierce makes Trickster’s Choice even weirder with Kyprioth’s introduction of the crows. I admit that I have no idea where this aspect of the novel is going because… talking crows! Who aren’t people? Maybe they are? Maybe they’re just seem anthropomorphized? I don’t understand. But Kyprioth finally steps in to provide Aly with some help, which is actually refreshing to me because a god listened to the person who they were working with. I mean, given how often Kel begged the god of the Chamber to help her and they were silent, this is just great, Kyprioth appears multiple times throughout the chapter, and while he is frustratingly ambiguous as gods tend to be, he’s actually helpful!

So he gives Aly a giant flock of crows to act as her spies. It’s a little bit Kel, a lot of Daine, and a billion times weird. Which isn’t an insult! I’m into weird! Actually, let’s make this more weird because it’s not a flock of crows; it’s a murder of crows. So Aly has a network of spies that’s a murder. I’m interested to see how Pierce is going to keep this different from the sparrows that Kel had; they’re already teaching Aly how to count/communicate, and that feels a little too similar to me.

Crows, y’all. Oh shit, I JUST REALIZED THERE’S ONE IN THE BANNER. I swear I run this site.

Nighttime Wandering

After a particularly strange day, Aly does what she wanted to for the first time in Tanair: She spies. It’s super exciting and tense to read, and I love that everything her father and grandfather has taught comes to light through this. It shows us that one can become special. As much as Kyprioth insisted that Aly was born to this sort of destiny because of her family, I’d argue that her attentiveness over the years is what pays off the most. How else would she have been able to successfully spy on Sergeant Veron as she does here? It may be part natural talent, but it’s at least an equal part of studiousness.

Oh, right. SERGEANT VERON IS A SPY. OH. OH SHIT. OH MY GOD, I ALREADY HATED EVERY ATOM IN HIS BODY, AND NOW I HAVE ANOTHER REASON. How is Aly going to stop Veron from passing information back to King Oron? How does she prevent anyone else from revealing too much information to Veron without telling them Veron is a spy? Why did everything get so complicated so fast???

But this book is not done with me. Not even close. Because then Aly notices that someone is still awake in the hostler’s quarters, so she boldly enters them, putting on her best innocent Tortallan slave face in the process. I still think Fesgao suspects that Aly is not who she says she is, but for the time being, Aly is able to surmise that these four people – Lokeij, Chenaol, Fesgao, and Ulasim – are connected in some meaningful way, and that Duchess Sarugani wasn’t a lower class noble. No, she’s far more important to the raka than these people are willing to let on, and this sheds a whole lot of light on the bizarre interest in Dove and Sarai. Immediately following this, Aly has a revealing conversation about Kyprioth with those two girls, who tell her of Kyprioth’s prophesized return to the Isles. So now Aly knows what we know: that he is interested in getting revenge for what happened to him at the hands of the other gods. The pieces are falling to place, and this book is just barely starting. SO EXCITING.

The Lioness

And then Pierce gives an emotional wallop that I was not ready for. Kyprioth’s promise of “letters from home” arrives in the form of a vision that Aly dreams. It’s a vision of her mother, deep in Frasrlund, being paid a visit from King Jonathan, who is the unfortunate bearer of bad news: Alianne is missing. It’s heartbreaking to see Alanna so deeply upset, but then we get this:

“I know Aly has the tools to survive. She can defend herself, she’s cleverer than I ever was, and she has all those things George taught her. I have to believe she’s alive, and she’s doing her best to stay that way.”

It hurts because I’m guessing that Aly has never heard her mother express confidence in her like this. And this sort of validation is what she’s been looking for for years, so the irony of how she finally hears this is probably not lost on her. Alanna knows how special her daughter is, and it takes her being kidnapped and enslaved to say it out loud.


Please note that the original text and the videos contain the words “stupid,” “mad,” and “maddened.”

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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