Mark Reads ‘The Broken Kingdoms’: Chapter 14

In the fourteenth chapter of The Broken Kingdoms, YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Broken Kingdoms.

Chapter Fourteen: “Flight” (encaustic, charcoal, metal rubbing)

As brief as this chapter it is, I really adore the imagery N.K. Jemisin gives us in Shiny doing what he does for Oree. Of course, that’s initially a mystery because we don’t know what it is Oree came up with as an escape plan until she casually reveals it in conversation.

But we have something else to talk about before that. I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT HAPPENED BETWEEN HADO AND SHINY. Y’all, what.

“Who are you?” That was Shiny, though I hardly recognized his voice. It trembled, wavering from need to confusion.

“Not who you think.”

“But –”

I am myself.” Hado said this with such savagery that I nearly forgot myself and flinched. “Just another mortal, to you.”

WHAT DID I MISS. Because this doesn’t make sense to me. It sounds both nonsensical and like I’m listening in on an inside joke. Why are Hado and Shiny talking as if they sort of know each other? What does Hado mean by not being who Shiny thinks he is? I DON’T UNDERSTAND.

“You are not quite yourself,” Shiny said suddenly. “Something of him lingers.” Hado stiffened perceptibly beside me.

“Not the part that gives a damn about you,” he snapped, and got up, stalking toward the door. “Speak of this again and I’ll kill you myself.”

WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT. Okay, I thought that maybe Hado was a god in disguise, but then wouldn’t the others be able to tell if he was? And why does Shiny seem both confused and convinced about his identity? I STILL DON’T GET IT.

To make matters worse, it’s clear that the threat of Nahadoth is now more real than ever:

“When the sun rose this morning, it was black.”

Even with Yeine keeping the Nightlord in check (somewhat), I worry that he’s falling perfectly into place for Dateh’s plan to work. Goddamn it, I DON’T WANT THIS. So how are Shiny and Oree going to stop them? Well, first, they’ve got to escape, so this is precisely when Jemisin reveals what Oree came up with:

“I don’t know how long it will take for the magic to come,” he said. Or whether it will come at all, he did not say, but I knew he thought it. I was thinking it myself.

“So I’ll fall for a while,” I said. “It’s a long way down.”

SWEET CHRIST, SHE’S GOING TO JUMP OUT OF THE WINDOW. But it does make some sort of sense. Shiny can only access his power when he needs to protect a human, and this would trigger it IN THEORY. But they’re going to JUMP OUT OF A WINDOW TOGETHER. I loved, then, that Jemisin made this such a beautiful and emotional sequence. I think she could have gone straight for the terror of the moment, but instead, this is about closure and courage:

Deliberately, I summoned the image of Madding as he had gazed at me in that last moment. He had known he was dying, known that I was the cause – but there had been no hatred or disgust in his expression. He’d still loved me.

My fear faded. I moved back, away from the window.

Gods, I love it. In a way, Oree isn’t afraid of death. At the very least, it is a way for her to gain control over her own body, to prevent these creeps from using any more of her blood to destroy the Nightlord. But it’s also an act of bravery, to face something as a mortal that in any other circumstance would certainly bring death. So Oree makes a swan dive out of the window, and Shiny follows her. And she is not afraid. Even when she believes that her plan didn’t work, it’s almost… relieving? Is that a good word for that? I think she’s relieved that it’s all going to be over. However, when Shiny’s power bursts to life, Jemisin gives us one of my favorite mental images in the series yet:

We streaked toward the earth like things I had imagined but would never see with my own eyes. Like a comet. Like a falling star.

It’s heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. They become a sign of hope that Oree most likely will never witness herself. It hurts so good.

And it works, at least temporarily. I’m guessing that Shiny burned through his power too quickly to sustain the entire fall, so I’m hoping that he was able to break her fall a bit, but… gods, I have no idea what’s going to happen next. I assume the main character doesn’t die AGAIN and 140 pages from the last page. BUT I GUESS ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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