In the eighth chapter of Trickster’s Choice, Aly sets to work uncovering the tangled web of politics and deceit at Tanair. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Trickster’s Choice.
Chapter Eight: A Spy’s Work
It’s so fascinating to see Aly in action, especially since it’s also how we come to find out just how much Aly has learned from her father. That whole thing where she dresses up in special clothing to be able to sneak around? I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW THAT SHE COULD DO THAT.
But before I get to that, we have to discuss a thing. Nawat is that thing. I simply cannot fucking deal with his entire existence. I don’t think Tamora Pierce has crafted a secondary character this distinct or unique ever. She completely understands that he’s not a human… mentally? Yes, that’s about the best way I can describe this. He’s direct in a way that’s almost unnerving? Like, there’s just no pretension to him at all, and it’s so refreshing. I can’t ignore that this is a book about spies, intrigue, deceit, lying, and complication. And then we’ve got this crow-man who WALTZES INTO SPY MEETINGS AND JUST SAYS WHATEVER HE WANTS. I get that he’s not used to human interaction as a human, since he’s always been a crow, but I love the juxtaposition present when you compare him to everyone here. It’s incredible. It’s hilarious. AND IT’S INTERESTING! He’s not just comedic relief, you know? His role is very important in the story, and taking him out would lessen the experience.
Casual reminder, though, that upon learning what a threat Bronau was, Nawat and his flock offered to decimate Bronau and his people by scattering their bones “between here and the mountains.” Well, if that isn’t true love, THEN I DON’T KNOW WHAT IS.
I realize that I’m being repetitive here for those who watched the video, but just in case, I did want to talk about how much I love the idea that Aly and Kyprioth are perfectly suited for one another. I hadn’t even thought about that! But both of them appreciate adventure and chaos. They’re both quick to drop a witty statement or retort. And going back to that scene earlier in chapter eight, where Aly calls upon the god to tease him about his plans, I realized how much Pierce had put into their dynamic. It’s fascinating to me because despite that Kyprioth has a lot of literal power that Aly doesn’t, Pierce writes her main characters in ways that the gods literally come down to their level. I mean, I can’t ignore that Aly summons a god, and the god arrives seconds later. THAT’S KIND OF COOL.
But the bulk of chapter eight is a thrilling example of SPIES EVERYWHERE. Y’all, I learned so much in just twenty-odd pages, enough that I’ve got to rethink what’s happening. First of all, Ulasim, Lokeij, and Chenaol all confront Aly about her role as the god’s chosen one, and, aside from Nawat’s UNREAL interruption, things go really well. It’s nice that nearly everything is out in the open because it means these people (as well as Fesgao) can work TOGETHER. And friends? Except maybe not, since Aly is ready to bounce on out of this place come the autumn equinox. But friends?????
Anyway, it’s now confirmed that they’re all pushing for Sarai to be the next queen of the Isles. Well, it’s not just that. The raka have been waiting FOREVER for this chance, and here’s where I must admit that I don’t understand. Specifically, I don’t understand how the raka are planning on installing Sarai as queen. How does that work? What are Chenaol and Ulasim planning that I don’t know about? WHY AM I CONSTANTLY SO UNPREPARED. Part of that is by design, though. The reveal that there are spies everywhere (and I’m not even exaggerating here!!!) makes Aly’s task a million times harder. Granted, Chenaol is watching the spy in the kitchen, and now everyone knows that Veron is a spy. But there are FOUR MORE SPIES in Bronau’s party! Good god, this is too much.
It’s too much for me. If, like, two people ask me a question at once, my brain shuts off. But this is not the case for Aly, and if Aly has any sort of superpower, this is it. Her ability to process information, store it, and analyze it is just incredible. Though, I think calling it a superpower is probably a bit insulting to her character, because Aly learned how to do this. It was through her studies that she learned how to arrange items in a room exactly as they were when she entered. It was through paying attention to her father that she learned about all the basic code structures, and it was through hard work that she was able to memorize them. I absolutely love this implicit value being so present in the book, you know? And that’s something I’ve seen discussed in the comments, too. Hard work and dedication is a part of the stories of Alanna, Daine, and Kel, too!
So, it’s with this in mind that I devoured Aly’s spying in this chapter. She’s got the conspirators on her side (and they seem to have accepted Nawat, though that may be because they’re also terrified of him), and the duke and duchess have trusted her to do as she sees fit. The whole thing is culturally surreal, since she’s free to do as she please to her owners as a luarin slave, but this whole book has twisted up cultural norms in interesting ways, so I’m just going with it. JUST… Y’ALL. Aly sneaking around in Bronau’s quarters is THE BEST. It’s clear Pierce not only did her research, but figured out every single possible way that Aly might be caught or suspected of infiltrating Bronau’s stuff. So, technically speaking, it was satisfying to read this chapter. Obviously, it moves the plot along because SPIES. RUBINYAN DRAMA. EVERYONE IS SUSPICIOUS. Bronau is in MASSIVE DEBT, and he’s certain he can pay it off within the year. I DON’T LIKE THIS. So, clearly Pierce is setting this up for some big reveal that he has a way to make money that’s… fucked up? Maybe? I don’t even know!!! But I trust him even less now because there’s yet another motivation for him to double cross the Balitangs: financial desperation.
I do enjoy how much Aly chooses to leave all this information in the Balitang’s hands, though. Sarai and Dove are in the ~conspiracy~, inasmuch that they know that “Mithros” sent Aly to them for protection. I don’t doubt it’ll be much longer before Dove questions Aly’s story more harshly because if anyone is going to figure this out, it’s her. For the moment, though, the family accepts Aly and the information she gives to them. Well, Mequen isn’t quick to accept that Rubinyan is spying on Bronau, but he quickly realizes that Aly has no reason to lie at all. It’s an uncomfortable reality, but it is the reality of the politics in the Isles. So what the hell are they going to do? I’m still bothered by the fact that Bronau is in Tanair, and I’ll feel a lot better once he leaves. PLEASE LEAVE, OKAY. Still, I didn’t think Aly’s task was ever going to be that easy, but Bronau is certainly going to make things more complicated in the process.
I DON’T KNOW HOW TO SOLVE THIS.
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