In the fifth chapter of Trickster’s Queen, Aly learns what she’ll have to do to make this rebellion work. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Trickster’s Queen.
Chapter Five: The Demands of Rebellion
Once more, this is a very dense chapter, so let’s split this up so I can talk about it!
Pavilion of Secrets
The initial demand of the rebellion that this chapter addresses: that these raka conspirators have got to start trusting that what Aly is doing is not a terrible thing. Fortunately, it’s not like Pierce is portraying the raka as being foolish here. As she explains:
Her father had taught her that spies spent much of their time explaining themselves to those they worked for, and that any spy must accept such explanations as part of the work.
In this case, Aly reveals that Topabaw recruited her as a spy earlier in the day, and imparts that this is a good thing. Granted, I get why the raka don’t necessarily trust this reveal right off the bat. After spending their entire lives only experiencing luarin generosity from the Balitangs, it’s still strange to them that Aly, a luarin herself, is doing what’s best for them. Well, and the more that I think about this twist, the more I realize that Kyprioth must be watching and cackling. It’s so funny that Aly is a spy for the spy she is spying on! I CAN’T GET OVER HOW HILARIOUS THAT IS. Fucking Kyprioth, I swear.
WHAT THE HELL DID THEY ALL JUST DO? Under cover of darkness and magical outfits, and with the help of a friend at the Dockmarket, Aly, Jimarn, Fegoro, Lokak, and Yoyox all sneak below the docks to the area where the slavemartet ships dock. Which is eerie enough as it is, but then Tamora Pierce has to go and remind us that this is where Aly was brought into Rajmuat. This has the story began, and along this strange journey, Aly returned to the same place to bring about the ending. That’s so cool to me!
Anyway, they measure the three docks. That’s it. And to make matters more confusing, Aly requests blazebalm from Ochobu and Ysul when she returns that night. I could understand wanting to set the docks on fire, but why measure them? I DON’T GET IT. WHAT ARE THEY PLANNING?
Bless Tamora Pierce for introducing such a vast palette of characters and actually spending time with them. When it comes to television, I’m a sucker for massive ensemble casts. (Hello, LOST, you’re my favorite.) I don’t even think I could name everyone at play at this point, and yet, whenever one of those characters appears in a scene, I know exactly who they are. Here, Pierce shows us the playful and respectful dynamic between Aly and Atisa, one of the women Aly had trained prior to arriving in Rajmuat. It’s so rad to see how Aly’s teachings have affected someone like Atisa, who clearly knows exactly what she’s doing. It’s also fascinating to think how this whole system – of training spies who then recruit and train spies of their own – works extremely well in terms of effectiveness and productivity. Aly can’t train every spy individually, you know?
THE ACTUAL REBELLION
HOLY SHIT, IT STARTED. IT STARTED?!?!?!? IT STARTED!!!!!!
“On the Jimajen lands, the Birafu estates on Tongkang,” he said. “The raka there have risen. They killed their guards and overseers and have cut the chains from the slaves. Governor Sulion of Tongkang had his mage far-speak to the regents’ mages asking for soldiers, but my captain says the first message was caught in the links of the Chain.”
YEAH, I DIDN’T EXPECT THIS AT ALL. But I should have! Aly knew that it was going to be a challenge to direct an entire people spread across the Isles and, truthfully, the time had been coming for a while. With news of rebellion spreading rapidly over the past couple months, it was inevitable that the raka somewhere would take action. Of course, it complicates things for the conspirators in Rajmuat. (But what hasn’t??? I feel like with every chapter, Tamora Pierce has essentially cackled in our faces, saying, “Well, now deal with this thing. GOOD LUCK.) Does it shorten the timeline that Aly is working on? Will she have enough time to set in motion all the rumors and disruption she has planned? WHAT IF THE RAKA WITHIN RAJMUAT START AN UPRISING BEFORE SHE’S DONE?
Shit is so real, y’all, and I love how tense and vicious this feels JUST FIVE CHAPTERS IN.
ha ha ha ha NOW I HAVE YET ANOTHER THING TO WORRY ABOUT ON TOP OF THE RAKA UPRISING. I am continually blown away by how skilled Dove is as a negotiator, as a possible spymaster, and as a genuinely amazing human being. The more and more I think about it, the more convinced I am she’s going to have this huge rule under Sarai’s rule, one that uses her skills and best qualities. Look how kind she is to Elsren while being diplomatic! Then she’s deeply sympathetic to the beggars in the Dockmart, offering coins to the children. Oh, right, and then she reveals to Aly that she used to leave the Balitang house all the time while growing up to explore the city and get to know the people around town. This is a real character in this book.
And yet, Aly and the others recognize how risky it is for Sarai to give away coins, and as they move into position, two squads of soldiers show up almost immediately (HOW THE FUCK DID THEY KNOW THEY WERE ALL THERE) to violently break up the crowd by royal decree. Yeah, assembling of more than ten people is outlawed, which is an actual thing that governments do. Tamora Pierce is not making that up.
Of course, it’s all made a thousand billion million times scarier when the lieutenant grabs Junai and utters a slur to her face, threatening to kill her. Which… it’s Junai. There’s no character here that’s more protective of others than her. She’s also the most prideful one, so Aly has to scramble quickly to get Junai away from this man. Oh god, IT HURTS. Because while it would have been satisfying to see Junai crush this man into a pile of dust, there’s no way she could have taken two squads. There was no way she could have fought without risking everyone else’s life, including her own. Oh god, CAN SHE GET THE CHANCE TO DO THIS LATER? PLEASE? THANKS.
As uncomfortable as it is, I’m glad that Pierce explores Nawat’s sense of identity and worth in this chapter, even if it means that Aly is portrayed as flawed in how she’s treated him. Ulasim reveals to Aly at the end of chapter five that he sent Nawat and his crows to Tongkang to help the people disappear before the regents discovered the rebellion there. Aly is, of course, completely heartbroken and furious, but I’m glad Ulasim doesn’t sugarcoat the truth for her:
“He wants to do something, Aly. A man needs something of his own, just as a woman does. And he and his crows can get messages to far more people on and around Tongkang than my mother and all the mages of the Chain. They can watch for warships and soldiers. He thinks he can even divert an armed party. His reasoning is sound. I approved it.”
Even when Aly tries to claim that Ulasim had no right to do this, he gently corrects her:
“He’s not your pet,” Ulasim said gently. “It is time that he learns if he is a crow or a man. As long as he sites in your shadow, he cannot be certain. And his stake in this is far higher than yours. He and his people are the raka’s cousins. You are only an imported luarin.”
It’s tough to hear, but it’s true. Obviously, she likes him a lot and is possibly in love with him. But she can’t lay claim to his agency. She can’t assume that her interests in this case overwrite Nawat’s, and it’s unfair for her to keep him around when his days are so listless and boring! Hell, earlier in this chapter, he admits that he wishes he had a place to fit in. Still, that doesn’t make it easier for Aly to accept the news, and thus, she’s on the receiving end of a lecture that Aly is usually the one giving. It hurts, it’s difficult, and it is awkward as hell, but you know what? It’s necessary. It needed to happen, and Aly needed to learn that she had trust Ulasim’s military choices as well as Nawat’s quest for purpose.
Please note that the original text and the video contains the use of the word “mad.”
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