Mark Reads ‘Trickster’s Choice’: Chapter 6

In the sixth chapter of Trickster’s Choice, Aly spends her days learning the crows’ language and tending her goats until a surprise visitor arrives. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Trickster’s Choice.

Chapter Six: Of Goats and Crows


Aly’s Routine

I’m fascinated by the way that Tamora Pierce is able to find ways to parallel the journeys of her heroines, intentionally or not. This chapter reminded me a whole lot of Kel settling in at Haven in Lady Knight. Aly learns what her routine is with the Balitangs while she also deals with her “secret” assignment, much like Kel’s task set forth by the Chamber god. And, like the chapter title suggests, this involves a whole lot goats and crows! I love goats, for the record. They’re amazing. And kind of trickster animals themselves, actually! At least, every goat I’ve ever known was silly as hell.

There’s further development of the language of the crows for Aly, both in person while she’s tending the goats, and later in her dreams, when Nawat leads lessons. I did have a thought, though: Wouldn’t you be super exhausted after waking up from dream lessons? That’s like going to school while you sleep. No, thank you??? Oh my god, does Aly actually feel rested after she sleeps, or is this going to take a toll on her?

Okay, that’s actually not that important of a point for me; I’m just super drowsy as I’m writing this and thinking about how unpleasant it would be to continue doing work in my sleep. But I noticed that we don’t ever see Aly complain about this; no, she jumps into her spy work through the crows with a fascinating sense of eagerness, and I love that. It’s just that she’s got a difficult task ahead of her, and part of that involves integrating herself within this community. She spends time making sure that people at nearby farms and villages recognize her, too!


Daine’s child is a genderqueer, species-queer little ball of joy. Forever. Forever.

Dove and Sarai

Aly’s presence plays an important part in the development of the two Balitang girls, even if Aly has to constantly check herself so that her real identity isn’t suspected. That’s a challenging role for her to play, and we see her make a few mistakes while in front of Dove and Sarai. (Actually, she does so once in front of Lokeij, too.) It’s understandably an awkward position to be in because the two girls want to hear so often of Alanna and the other ladies in Tortall. Aly’s got to work through her own emotions and hide them from Dove and Sarai while also making sure she doesn’t reveal that she knows too much.

But it’s also really beautiful to read how the main characters of Song of the Lioness, The Immortals, and Protector of the Small have affected other woman, especially those far, far from Tortall. And that wasn’t their explicit goal, you know? No, they just wanted to fulfill their own dreams. (Though I think you could argue that Kel was a lot more aware of how her behavior would make things better for people who came after her.) And I love this idea that everybody needs heroes. It’s fascinating to me because even though I think hero worship can be a dangerous thing at times, the truth is that having heroes as a kid and a teenager was what got me through tough times. That’s what gave me hope. I mean, I could write a novel about heroes disappointing me, but I also recognize just how important it was for me that have someone to look up to. So I wonder, then, how that’s going to work with these two girls, Dove and Sarai. How are they going to deal with the possibility of people looking up to them?


Okay, clearly some of these people (like Chenaol or, in this chapter, Lokeij) are part of some sort of cabal of… secrets? I don’t get it. They’re suspicious of Aly in this really weird way because it varies between them being wary of her and then giving her really good advice? So… do they trust her? What are their motives? Why does Lokeij warn Aly to act less knowledgable? That’s a technique that would allow her to blend in better, so… he wants her to succeed??? Wait, how much do these people know about Kyprioth’s wager? Nothing? Are they all working for him? I DON’T UNDERSTAND.


BUT HOLY GOD, NOTHING IN THE WORLD READIED ME FOR THIS. I didn’t think much of Nawat’s sudden absence; clearly, it was important because Pierce mentioned it a bunch of times, but the only real thought I associated with it is that it highlighted just how lonely Aly’s life had become. She has no real friends, in the sense that she is portraying a person who isn’t her, and she can’t even be truly honest with any of these people. Nawat and the crows (and maybe the goats, hahaha) are about the only living beings that Aly talks to at all without having to lie, so when Nawat just disappears for a while, I felt sad for Aly. Still, as lonely as she was, I got the sense that she kind of enjoyed doing what she was doing because she had gotten the chance to use the knowledge instilled in her by her father. This was an adventure – albeit a dangerous one – for her.

Y’all. Y’all. The man who arrives in this chapter… GOOD GODS.

The strangest thing about him was the way his skin looked to her Sight: feather patterns showed under every inch of bare flesh.


“I am Nawat Crow,” Nawat replied. “They could do this, if they wished.” He looked up at the crows again. “They do not wish.”

THIS GENUINELY FEELS LIKE IT CAME OUT OF NOWHERE WHICH MEANS IT WAS LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE FOR ME TO BE PREPARED FOR THIS. Oh my god, is this actually based in an old legend or myth, or did Tamora Pierce just make this up? Because I’ve certainly never heard the idea that crows could become people. Also, Nawat became a person.

Wait, that’s technically not true. Nawat became the most adorable person in the world. There is an unmistakable and endearing innocence to Nawat which makes me think he’s more like Aly’s age or even younger. He approaches the world without nonsense or malice. He even acts like a crow, since he’s attracted to shiny things, like, I don’t know, GRIFFIN AND STORMWING FEATHERS. HE JUST COLLECTED AND CLEANED THEM WITH HARDLY ANY KNOWLEDGE OF HOW VALUABLE THEY ARE. I can’t help but like him?????

“Are you not glad that I came?” Nawat asked, a worried look on his handsome face. “I will help you better this way, with arrows, with the crows. I will be your friend.”

It should be illegal to be this cute??? HOW IS THIS FUCKING POSSIBLE. No, I can’t deal with this??? Everything about this should fail. The more I think about this, the more I’m convinced that practically no one else could ever pull this off, but here it is. A crow turned into a human out of nowhere, and he is too adorable for words.

“You will tell a fine story,” Nawat said cheerfully. “You do well with such things.”


Aly grinned. “Thank you for the compliment,” she replied.

“It is my first,” replied Nawat. “I am glad my first compliment is a good one.”

YEAH, I’M GONNA NEED YOU TO STOP WITH THIS. I am but one human, and you are testing my patience with your cute. He wins over EVERYONE. LITERALLY EVERYONE. The fact that a group of people who have suspicion written into their DNA accept him so readily is astounding to me. Goddamn it, Nawat, you are not fair.

Please note that the original text and the video below contain the word “mad.”

Part 1

Part 2

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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