In the sixteenth and final chapter of Trickster’s Choice, everything hurts forever. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Trickster’s Choice.
Chapter Sixteen: Betrayal
So, I sometimes refer to the videos attached to these reviews in passing, or I’ll point out some ridiculous thing I said, but largely, I sort of think of them as separate from the review. And I get the sense that a lot of y’all do, too, which is great! I’m glad I’m not repetitious, and I’m glad that I can entertain y’all in various ways. It brings me great joy!
I think that I would normally address this ABSOLUTELY NOT OKAY chapter by listing all the things that ruined me, or just quote a lot and give a play-by-play, because this chapter is not okay. But I think that this chapter requires a lot of reflection about what just happened rather than just reacting to it. I don’t often do this, but I would recommend you watch the videos at the end of this post for that sort of commentary from me. I’d really like to focus on what this chapter means for these character and the story at large because IT’S REALLY, REALLY, REALLY GREAT.
I mean, look. This chapter hurts, obviously, and I’m going to address that in a bit, but I’m just so struck by how important Dove, Sarai, and Winnamine were to this massive battle over Bronau’s betrayal. It’s scary to think that the death of Mequen really is the way that Tamora Pierce introduces them to the very real risks they face in the future. It’s frightening, isn’t it? I’m interested to see how Dove and Sarai act in the next book because this is some traumatic shit, y’all. And yet, in a moment of pure chaos, Winnamine uses a cadelabrum to smash someones face in. Sarai faces off with Bronau – someone vastly older than her and with far more experience in sword fighting – with little hesitation after he fatally harms her father. And Dove, silent but deadly, kills Bronau when she appears out of fucking nowhere to sink two arrows right into his throat.
That’s not to ignore Aly’s contribution here, but I’m saving that for later. These three Balitang women are resilient and powerful, and it just makes me so sad to think about how much pain they’ll be in while still pressing on. I think that’s what’s most impressive to me because I know I shut down for MONTHS after my father died. These women? A week later, they’re already preparing for winter. Winnamine has taken over the job of overseeing all of Tanair, and they do so while mourning.
So where does Winnamine come in when it comes to the future of the Isles? It’s now her and her step-daughters against a vicious political court, and I doubt that the Balitangs will be left alone, now that the line of succession passes to Sarai. I imagine that all three of them will rely on one another for support and encouragement. I even admit that it’s really great to see Winnamine take charge. Her interaction with Rubinyan is thrilling because it’s obvious that she was always good at this, you know?
I just wish her husband didn’t have to die for me to see this. LET’S ALL BE REALLY FUCKING SAD.
Let’s talk about Nawat briefly before I explode with feelings about Aly. The dude called upon his fellow crows to turn into humans so that he could save Aly and the Balitangs. DID YOU READ THAT SENTENCE. THAT IS A THING NAWAT DID. His dedication to Aly just destroys me every time. How is he real? Did y’all suspect I would adore him or were you worried I would hate him? And I am not going to let this go unsaid: ALY PREENED NAWAT BACK FOR THE FIRST TIME. That is also a thing that happened in this chapter LEST YOU FORGET IT.
Oh, Aly. Aly. Like the Balitangs, this chapter is a huge turning point for her character, and one of the things I noticed was how brutal Aly’s wounds were. This somehow felt worse than anything Alanna, Daine, or Kel went through, and it’s the visceral nature of it that makes it feel like an omen. This is the start of something that’s going to be difficult and hard as hell, you know? Bronau is just the beginning. The ruling class of the Isles is desperate for power, and with a three-year-old in the throne, it’s only a matter of time before someone acts as Bronau does here to grab for control. It’s scary, but it’s reality, and Aly meets that reality head-on. It scares the hell out of me, but Aly?
No, not Aly. After all of the heartbreak here (NOOOO MEQUEN AND LOKEIJ, THIS ISN’T FUCKING FAIR), I was surprised by how quickly my emotions turned to GIDDY JOY. Which, again, I won’t apologize for my near-tearful outbreak of happiness when I realized the most recent caravan contained GEORGE COOPER. Oh my god, the amount of tension built into this was ridiculous, hence my ridiculous reaction. THEY ARE FINALLY GOING TO BE REUNITED. Well, first, George hears what her daughter has done for these people, which is not okay because the very thought of George being proud of his daughter makes me want to burst into tears.
But once the two are finally in each other’s arms and they begin to understand exactly what got them where they were, I was just so pleased by Aly’s ultimate decision. I mean, especially given recent events, I would not have been surprised if Aly agreed to take a break from the Balitangs. However, this makes more sense. It makes much more sense that Aly came to love and respect these people through her wager with Kyprioth, and he suspected as much of Aly when he made that initial wager with her. Aly is playing a vital part in a massive revolution, one that has a very real possibility of happening. The allure of home is seductive, obviously, but I love that Aly sees how important this fight is, how much it means to the Balitang children and to the fiery raka she’s come to know. Leaving? That would be the worse option.
So Aly, that brave warrior spy, decides to stay in Tanair to help Dove, Sarai, and Winnamine. The future holds a chaotic and messy battle, that much is certain. And Aly still chooses to stay. It’s such a beautiful end to this novel that gives it closure as a narrative while still leaving us in anticipation for the future. The main antagonist is dead, but the raka have a hell of a fight ahead of them. I’m glad, then, that Aly is there to help them.
Y’all, these Tamora Pierce books are so great. I had a fantastic time reading this, even though I had a few issues along the way. This was thrilling and emotionally NOT OKAY AT ALL, and it’s precisely what I love about Tamora Pierce. AND THERE’S ANOTHER ONE!!! Thursday, I’ll post my predictions for Trickster’s Queen and the commission video for the short story “Testing.” Then, on Monday, WE START TRICKSTER’S QUEEN. Oh gods, it’s so exciting!
Please note that the original text and the videos contain uses of “mad,” “stupid,” and “crazy.”
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