Mark Reads ‘Trickster’s Queen’: Chapter 13

In the thirteenth chapter of Trickster’s Queen, it’s time to figure out what the hell to do. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Trickster’s Queen.

Chapter Thirteen: A Change of Plans

After hearing Sarai’s letter no one had anything to say. They just sat in silent gloom on the steps.

Because seriously, what could you say? Tamora Pierce doesn’t ignore how immense, game-changing, and downright upsetting this situation is. In a lot of ways, this is an uncomfortable chapter. The conspirators have to admit their faults, and Pierce addresses the ramifications for all those left behind by Sarai. I’ll reiterate what I said in the video: As much as I’m happy that Sarai did what she thought was best for herself, I can’t deny that she left a mess – both political and emotional – behind her.

She also turned Nuritin into a GIANT BEACON OF TRUTH. Oh, lord, Nuritin, you are one politically savvy surprise. Well, I suppose she’s not much of a surprise because while she has some unfortunate views on gender roles and public behavior, she drops so much knowledge on everyone here, and they all needed to hear it. She knows that they were all fooled, she knows the regents will offer the same marriage to Dove, and she knows that no one is as vexed about this as Aly. I loved that Nuritin didn’t even want to know what was up with Aly. At this point, her primary concerns are in making sure the family is taken care of and that they take advantage of the offer just provided to them so that they aren’t chased to the ends of the earth by the regents.

Aly stared back at her with admiration. “I want to be her when I grow up,” she murmured.

BLESS YOU. I will take this one moment of humor and joy for what it is because WOW, THINGS ARE SO COMPLICATED AFTER THIS. There’s a pervasive silence to the pages that follow this conversation, and it’s an extremely effective way to convey the quiet horror and shock of these characters. It’s not until the Balitangs return to their home in Rajmuat that we start to see signs of complete and utter chaos. There was one really awesome moment before it all went to hell, though:

“They act like it’s the end of everything.” Dove’s soft voice sounded tentative.

“But it isn’t,” Aly replied. “It could be the beginning.”

And this brief conversation felt so RENEWING. Yes, there was going to be chaos in Rajmuat once they got home, but before they did, Aly and Dove were both already up for the challenge. It hadn’t even been 24 hours yet, and they were already devising ways to keep the rebellion going.

“I don’t need a maid,” Dove said. “I need a friend.”

OH NO, YOU’RE NOT DOING THIS TO ME ARE YOU.

Dove understood duty to those who needed her. Dove could be trusted to keep a clear head. She was one of the most ferociously intelligent people Aly had ever known. Aly had seen it the night before: they must put Dove on the throne.

“I will be your friend until the end of time,” she told the younger girl.

LAY DOWN. CURL UP. CRY. THIS IS MY LIFE’S MOTTO. Oh my god, I ADORE THESE TWO. And while I am going to miss Sarai’s intensity so much, this passage got me terribly excited for the prospect of Dove ruling. My god, I just have to bring this up again, but HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I SAID THAT I THOUGHT SHE’D BE A GOOD RULER. And now it’s happening.

Well, there was a lot to work through before they got there. The trip home was full of rattled nerves, and despite Dove’s charming behavior and the good news about Nawat’s mission, shit got WAY TOO REAL WAY TO FAST once they entered the courtyard. I felt a lot of respect for Winnamine in these scenes, as she had to admit this terrible thing to her people and her staff, and she did so with grace, tenderness, and respect for the people of Balitang house. This wasn’t easy for her. She’s talking about her own daughter running away! Like, I am sure she’s dealing with a myriad of confusing and traumatizing emotions, and yet, she presents herself as the calm head of the house, and MY HEART JUST HURTS FOR WINNAMINE BALITANG, OKAY.

“We must be happy for her. She wrote that she loves Master Zaimid. While we could have wished her to love closer to home, we had no choice in the matter.”

While my heart continues to crumble, can we acknowledge how cool it was that Winna constantly spoke of Sarai’s right to choose? It happened throughout chapter twelve when Sarai was faced with the prospect of the marriage proposal, and it appears again here. I love that, and I love that she’s genuine about it.

And then WE WAIT. We wait because the only thing that mattered at this point was how the conspirators would react. There was no way that this was going to be a calm meeting full of gentle concessions and quiet admissions. Understandably so, Sarai’s elopement is a serious thing, a possible wrench in the plan. That being said, I was confident that Aly and Dove would be able to convince the raka that Dove was not just a suitable replacement for Sarai, but maybe even a better choice than Sarai.

On top of that, the fact that Aly had figured out Ulasim’s master plan – using the coastal rebellions to suck Rajmuat dry of armed forces – also seemed like another thing that would further help the raka conspirators realize that the rebellion could absolutely go as planned. And I just need to stop and shout ULASIM OH MY GOD! What’s so great about this is that it has nothing to do with Aly and everything to do with years and years of planning on the part of the raka. And Aly admits that outright!

Aly was silent, awed. Years of preparations by Ulasim’s predecessors had gone into the picture she saw here. They and he had built it up bit by bit, deciding who needed instruction, and who could be trusted to exercise their ancient hatreds of the invaders at just the right time.

Incredible. Simply incredible.

So, the raka conspirator meeting. It started off just as chaotic and furious as I expected. Of course, since I anticpated something, Tamora Pierce had to go be evil again by WHISKING ALY OFF TO THE DIVINE REALMS SO THAT KYPRIOTH COULD YELL AT HER AND THREATEN TO KILL HER ON THE SPOT. And this isn’t the first time this has happened, but Aly’s commitment to talking shit to the gods? It’s the most beautiful thing in the universe. Kyprioth could have torn her to shreds at any point during this conversation, but:

What could she do but talk back? He was a great god and could do as he wished with her. If she was going to die, she wanted to die arguing.

MY PERSONAL HERO NOW AND FOREVER.

I also have to appreciate that the crows’ wager was for each of them to get a big shiny necklace. Like… a shiny necklace. I LOVE IT. IT’S SO PERFECT FOR THE CROWS AND NO ONE ELSE. Oh god, the DAWN CROW and SKY, THE CROW GODDESS. Y’all, I can’t get over this. Aly is in the Divine Realms??!?!?!?! WHAT IS THIS BOOK? HOW IS THIS BOOK REAL? HOW ARE WE ALLOWED TO READ IT WITHOUT COMBUSTING FROM THE EXPERIENCE? Oh my god, I just can’t deal with how fascinating the crows and their culture are. But this one line in particular was just too much:

“I must say, I see why our cousin Nawat feels so strongly about you.”

Oh, you just stop right there. STOP IT. Wow, I miss Nawat a lot? Like, way more than I ever did before since he left. UGH. FEELINGS.

I think it’s neat that Kyprioth finally returns to Aly and admits that she was right, that it was Graveyard Hag who was behind this current turn, that Aly is right to go with Dove, and that it was a mistake for him to threaten to kill her. A god. A GOD IS SAYING THAT TO HER. Aly has gods apologizing to her. STILL MY HERO.

I admit that for a brief moment, when Aly returned to her body and THREE WHOLE DAYS HAD PASSED, I was a bit disappointed that I’d not seen Dove and Aly try to convince the raka that Dove should be queen. I had been looking forward to it! However, there’s a brilliance in what Pierce does here. By taking Aly out of that meeting and sending her to the Divine Realms, Dove had to convince the raka all by herself. She had to prove to them that she could be queen, and I imagine it was a lot more effective that way than if Aly had tried to do it.

Let’s just bask in the beautiful end to this chapter, y’all.

Chenaol winked at Aly. “What do you call four dead governers?”

Aly blinked at her, her mind still trying to catch up. “I don’t know.”

Chenaol grinned a wolf’s grin, all teeth and predatory intent. “A good start.”

BLESS THIS BOOK.

The original text/videos contain uses of the word “mad,” “crazy,” and “stupid.”

Part 1

Part 2

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About Mark Reads

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