In the eleventh chapter of Trickster’s Choice, new developments force Sarai to examine her feelings towards Bronau. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Trickster’s Choice.
Chapter Eleven: Migrations
Oh my god, this chapter was so entertaining. LET’S DO THIS.
You know, if Aly isn’t careful about her behavior whenever the Lioness is brought up, someone’s going to get suspicious. Still, I thought it was neat that Pierce had Aly reminded that Tortall is not the rest of the world. There are going to be people who don’t center Tortall as the most important place ever. In Lokeij’s case, he has no idea who the Lioness is, and it’s jarring to Aly that her mother’s nickname brings no reverence or awe from someone. Unfortunately, even though this ultimately doesn’t bother her, it does remind her that she misses Alanna. NOOOO, THIS ISN’T FAIR. ABANDON SHIP. I do appreciate that Tamora Pierce makes sure to put this adventure into this context: Aly is far from home, and her mother is most likely worrying herself sick.
Wow, feelings everywhere.
Soap Opera, Part I
So, I did touch on the fact that I found all of the scenes between Sarai and Bronau to be laced with humor. It’s feels so meta, doesn’t it? Pierce is aware of how these conversations play out, so what we read these two people saying is so transparently ridiculous. At the same time, Pierce respects that as absurd as is, it’s serious for Sarai and it makes Aly reflect on her own feelings about her past. IT’S SOO GOOD.
Anyway, let’s start with the first “secret” meeting between Bronau and Sarai. Oh gosh, I still feel really gross about Bronau, and this doesn’t make me look at him any more positively than I did before. I used the word “transparent” in the video on purpose because it’s painfully clear what he’s trying to do here. Like Aly, I was gobsmacked at how obvious his technique is! And to Sarai’s credit, as much as she enjoys the attention and the affection, she is quick to call out Bronau for breaking with custom. He’s not supposed to come to her privately about his feelings like this, and, even worse, it’s not like Mequen or Winnamine, his friends, would be opposed to him courting her. (Well, in theory, that is. I suspect that they both find Bronau less and less admirable as each day passes.) This purposeful act is yet another thing to paint Bronau as… shit, a creep! He’s a creep. HE IS SO CREEPY. Oh my god, when he started about his earlier pursuit of Winnamine, I was 100000% done with him. NO THANK YOU.
I also love how often Aly’s own opinions are interspersed within this, especially when she starts thinking about how she has treated romance. Initially, Aly believes that she and Sarai are very similar in how they approach other guys:
Now it seemed that she and Sarai had that in common: that their hearts could be racing as their heads remained cool.
This is complicated later, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I also adored that Dove showed up immediately, and then Sarai revealed just how aware she is:
“Besides,” Sarai added, “I had a chaperon. Didn’t I, Aly?”
Aly giggled and stood. “How did you know?” she asked.
“I just guessed,” Sarai replied.
BLESS. BLESS YOUR HEART.
Here’s what I didn’t expect, though. Given that all of us have had many conversations in the comments about age differences and power dynamics in relationship, I was totally struck at how these characters suddenly started discussing how weird it was that Bronau is twenty years older than Sarai. Like… yes! His pursuit of her should be viewed with suspicion anyway, but someone his age going after Sarai? Yeah, I think Dove said it best:
“So he’s twice as likely to get you pregnant as a boy your own age who loves you and doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
BLESS YOU AS WELL, DOVE. Oh god, she’s so great. Actually, they both are, and that’s sort of the point here. They both have their own flaws and the strengths, but in the end, they’re good friends to Aly and the possess qualities that will make them good leaders.
Nawat has a fascinating way of cutting to the core of human behavior in a way that forces Aly to think about how she acts. After Dove and Sarai leave, Aly ponders her own views on kissing. Mainly, she loves making out and doesn’t take it too seriously. My hero. Because RIGHT ISN’T MAKING OUT GREAT. Well, I mean, once someone is good at it. Because a bad kisser is an utter dealbreaker for me. DEALBREAKER 100%.
ANYWAY. Nawat shows up because he’s always just RIGHT THERE, being weird and bizarre and cute, and he asks Aly if Bronau was “mate feeding” Sarai. How are you a real character Nawat. Oh my GOD. As she’s explaining to Nawat that it’s a part of mating behavior, BAM. He kisses her. Aly is in such denial that she is attracted to Nawat. Understandably, it’s weird. It’s entirely possible that he’s not a permanent human. We don’t know the logistics of crow-to-human transformation, so what if he suddenly decides to become a crow again? So it doesn’t make sense to Aly to explore the feelings she has. Except feelings. Oh, Aly.
Kyprioth’s Field Trip
Whatever, I’m calling it a field trip. THAT’S TOTALLY WHAT IT WAS. Well, she didn’t pack a lunch or have to get her permission slip signed by her parents, but the point still stands. Kyprioth visits Aly in her dreams, but he breaks from tradition by taking her on a journey. It’s like… astral projection? Her consciousness leaves her body behind and the two of them fly to Rajmuat so that Aly can observe the death of King Oron. It’s the first time we actually get to see a lot of these characters instead of just hearing about them. Of course, Kyprioth can’t resist the chance to be mischievous again, so he uses Oron’s death to reveal a prophecy about the “harbinger of new power,” which totally foreshadows… one of the Balitang daughters. I still can’t tell if Kyprioth is planning for Sarai or Dove to be the new queen, and he’s clearly not going to reveal that to Aly. BOOOOO I NEED TO KNOW.
As uncomfortable as it is for Winnamine and Mequen to hurt their daughter when it comes to Bronau, it’s a necessary moment for them. They openly and honestly speak with her about her aspirations and the cautions she needs to take with Bronau. Even knowing that the prince will mostly likely leave upon hearing that Hazarin is now king, Mequen still reveals a painful truth: Bronau has been sleeping with Pembery every night. Oh god, my heart instantly went out to Sarai in that moment because… damn it, it sucks to realize that men can be so awful. OH, I LEARNED THIS THE HARD WAY AS WELL. While I won’t deny that the dynamics in heterosexual relationships can be quite different than homosexual ones, I don’t think most of y’all will be surprised to learn that gay men can be just as resolutely awful as Bronau is here. Actually, every guy who has ever cheated on me or led me on was significantly older than I was, too, so THERE’S THAT. GREAT. So, yeah, this particular line destroyed me:
“We build up pretty pictures of men, when we want to be in love. We hate to have them ruined.”
Wow, THANKS FOR REMINDING ME.
Soap Opera, Part II
Given that Sarai now knew that Bronau was not nearly as sincere as he wanted to appear, his conversation with Sarai is approximately 65% more ridiculous than it was before:
This was better than any drama the Players acted out for an audience. And this was a drama. Sarai played the desperate maiden, yearning for her forbidden love. Bronau was the older, jaded man who had found his heart’s desire when he ceased to look for it.
OH GOD, IT’S SO TRUE. And yet, Tamora Pierce takes this seriously:
Aly twiddle her thumbs. She tried to remember the passionate speeches that had been addressed to her. Had they been this nonsensical? Would she have swallowed them?
This sort of self-reflection actually makes me appreciate this passage so much more than I would have if this had just been a humorous piece of meta. Instead, Aly has to wonder if she’s acted the same way Sarai has, and that’s important for her characterization. It goes hand in hand with her growing attraction for Nawat, who she feels possessive towards once Sarai expresses interest in him. Oh, Aly, you aren’t so different Sarai, are you?
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