Mark Reads ‘Trickster’s Choice’: Chapter 13

In the thirteenth chapter of Trickster’s Choice, Aly ponders her future with the Balitangs. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Trickster’s Choice.

Chapter Thirteen: Ladies of the Raka

Oh, there is so much to discuss here, y’all. SO MUCH.

Dove is too much

Actually, everyone is too much in this chapter, but good god, the character development for Sarai and Dove is LETHAL. Meaning I am so done. Chapter thirteen opens with Aly accompanying the sisters on a ride, though she spends the entire time with Dove, who isn’t nearly as interested in riding as Sarai. Through their conversation, Dove continues to reveal that she is a little spy in training, which is BRILLIANT. The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that Pierce is setting up Sarai to be the queen of the Isles, and Dove will grow to be… well, basically Myles of Olau. Or like Aly’s father! They’re so well-suited to this work, and it’s a pleasure to read. Plus, DOVE IS TWELVE. TWELVE. And she’s already figured out how to use what others might view as a disadvantage as a positive thing.

For real, y’all:

“What I know is that Winna understands the prince as well as anybody, even better than Papa. Her not trusting him to behave honorably, that worries me. Doesn’t it worry you? Because I don’t think we’ve seen the last of His Highness, not at all.”

Oh, Dove, you have no idea. Actually, wait. I don’t have any idea. But I know she’s right! I don’t trust one atom within Bronau’s body, and I AM THIRTY. DOVE IS TWELVE. SHE IS AMAZING.

Aly is too much

Unfortunately, this isn’t in the best way. Aly’s conversation with Ochobu is awkward at best. Now, I understand the context here: Aly is an outsider, and I do like the idea that because she’s unattached to this country and its politics, she can provide an opportunity for a new perspective for Ochobu. That being said? Oh wow, this is clumsily handled, and it comes off with the same arrogance Aly demonstrated back in Pohon when she lectured the raka there. And it’s not like what Aly says is wrong, either. I agree that a bloody takeover would be horrific; I agree that parsing pureblood raka from those mixed with luarin would be an offensive disaster; and kicking people out of the Isles, even if they support a raka royalty, would be a mess.

My problem here is that Aly sounds like she’s being condescending the entire time, as if Ochobu isn’t well aware of the problems that the raka face in overthrowing their oppressors. And really, that’s what bothers me about this. In terms of power dynamics, Aly is a white woman from Tortall telling a LITERALLY OPPRESSED brown woman what’s best for her and for her people. None of what she tells Ochobu is new information, and the mage even tells her this is the case! Honestly, it’s like Aly is rubbing the raka’s troubled past in Ochobu’s face at times, especially when she “reminds” Ochobu how the raka were able to be oppressed by the luarin invaders in the first place. I mean, think of it like this. Would you go up to the indigenous people of North America or Australia or to Palestinians and say some of the shit Aly does here? Oh my god, even all of the political complications and nuances aside, it’s just awkward.

Like the Pohon segment, I just wish there was a bit more subtext or in-text confirmation that what Aly does here is rude. I think you could read that into Ochobu’s reaction, especially when she tells Aly to leave for giving her a headache. Meh, it’s all too uncomfortable for me.

Nawat is too much

Not one of you is surprised that I just wrote that. He is so ridiculous and adorable and I just love how unique he feels. I mean, I know we’ve all come to the conclusion that he is the man-crow version of Dug from Up, but otherwise, I can’t really think of any character I’ve ever read who resembles him. He offers a unique perspective on humanity, on crow culture, and on loyalty. Through this, Pierce also explores Aly’s denial. Every time her feelings for Nawat present themselves, she’s quick to change the subject, to deny that they exist, and to do everything human possible to ignore that she’s developing an emotional attachment to this man. Admittedly, it’s strange to think about because Nawat could turn back into a crow. Like Aly’s stay in the Isles, Nawat’s appearance as a human is not permanent. Both could come to an end fairly soon. (Oh my god, how is Pierce going to deal with this? THERE’S ANOTHER BOOK OH MY GOD.) So why should Aly pursue companionship in Nawat if she’s just going to leave at the end of the summer?

(BECAUSE NAWAT IS AWESOME THE END.)

Stormwings are too much

BIRTHED IN VOLCANOES FROM STEEL EGGS. They are the most metal creatures in the world. Go back and read this section again while Judas Priest’s “The Hellion” segues into “Electric Eye.” It’s perfect. Perfect.

Sarai is too much

If any character is gifted the most character development here, it’s Sarai. Initially, we see that through her conversation with her parents regarding Prince Bronau. Like Dove, she reveals herself to be a lot more observant than she lets on:

“Well, I’m sixteen, and giddy,” Sarai told them mischievously. “My husband had best be faithful to me alone. Bronau isn’t likely to do that. Besides, unless King Hazarin gifts him with offices or estates, he’s not very wealthy.”

OH, YOU’RE SO WONDERFUL. Good for you. GOOD FOR YOU. But, y’all. Y’all.

“Don’t fret, Papa,” she said, her face turned up to his. “I’d never do anything without your approval.” She looked at Winnamine, hesitated, then said, “Or yours, Winna.”

Aly looked down, not wanting anyone to realize she had seen the sudden happiness in the duchess’s face. It made her feel very much an outsider. She missed her mother.

A DOUBLE DOSE OF FEELINGS. We’ve got Sarai expressing acceptance towards her stepmother and Aly missing her own mother. WOW. MOTHERLY FEELINGS EVERYWHERE. Too much.

But then Sarai continues to surprise everyone during a trip to Inti and Pohon. Her demonstration of affection and interest in the raka who come to see the Balitang sisters is UNREAL. The fact that she takes time to let each of these people speak to her is so admirable, and I love that it’s so genuine. But there’s an air of fearlessness to Sarai, too, and I didn’t realize it until that scene outside of Inti. Aly and Fesgao were so nervous about the group of raka who’d come up the coast just to see the ladies, and Sarai DOESN’T HESITATE FOR A SECOND TO MEET THEM. Like, seriously, go back and read the section where Kyprioth decides to SPEAK TO EVERYONE THERE, and notice that every person is concerned about this interaction except Sarai. Hell, she even acts a bit annoyed with Dove when Dove doesn’t immediately dismount and join her. This is even more proof that Sarai is built for this: she doesn’t fear the people she might eventually rule over. What I mean is that she inherently respects them as individuals instead of treating them as the luarin do.

SARAI, YOU’RE TOO MUCH.

Tortall is too much

ANOTHER DREAM VISION, AND OH MY GOD, KEL AND ALANNA ARE SPARRING WITH ONE ANOTHER, AND NEAL AND RAOUL ARE CHEERING THEM ON, AND WHY MUST YOU HURT ME IN THIS WAY. why. Of course, I have to put myself in Aly’s shoes. This must hurt her more. She’s clearly enjoying herself with the Balitangs, but she misses these people! However, more so than any interaction in this chapter, her dream vision reminds her that her time in the Isles is going to be coming to an end. Tkaa (OH MY GOD OH MY GOD) arrives to tell Alanna that her husband has located some sort of sign of Aly, which means that it’s only a matter of time before the best spymaster around finds her. (Well, there’s also the news that peace with Scanra might come soon, but George is going to find Aly OMG.) Aly has… what? Maybe a month left in the Isles? I mean, perhaps she could convince her father to stay with her and help until her wager is complete. I also suspect that if George gets too close, Kyprioth will intervene to delay him. Still, I can’t help but wonder how this is going to end. There are only three chapters left! I’m scared.

Please note that the original text and the videos contain use of the word “mad.”

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

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About Mark Reads

Vegan cyclist, Internet community nerd, atheist bookworm, high-five purveyor.
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