Mark Reads ‘Trickster’s Queen’: Chapter 7

In the seventh chapter of Trickster’s Queen, Aly learns much from the darkings and has a frightening experience with the Balitang family in the streets of Rajmuat. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Trickster’s Queen.

Chapter Seven: Putting Darkings to Work

I didn’t even realize how much I missed the darkings and their strange ways until they reappeared. This is just so fun to read, even if it does get pretty scary there for a bit. Actually, it got SUPER SCARY. But we’ll talk about that later. FIRST, THOUGH:

“I snoop,” Trick said proudly. “Dove have beads. Sarai have many, many beads. Duchess have beads. Rihani have beads. Chenaol –”

Aly raised a hand for silence. She had the idea that the enterprising creature would have told her the contents of every jewel box in the house if she had asked.

Who else immediately thought of Nawat at this point? Because seriously, Nawat and the darkings pretty much talk the same way. Great, now I miss Nawat. I HOPE HE IS OKAY. Regardless, as funny as it is to listen to the darkings speak, it’s important that they’re here. In just one night, they amass more information about the people of Joshain Street than Aly has gotten the entire time she’s been there. INCREDIBLE. Unsurprisingly, this bit got me all excited.

“Daughter in Kadyet House is kissing her maid.”


Aly continues to use the darkings to her advantage, and I cannot wait to find out what they learn. She places one in Grosbeak’s office after dutifully “reporting” to him as Topabaw assigned her to. Again, I had to take a moment to appreciate that Aly was pretending to be a spy for a spy while being a spy for the rebellion. If that shit doesn’t impress you, then it’s impossible for me to convince you otherwise. (Tatiana Maslany or Anna Torv as Aly. You’re welcome. Okay, age-wise, it doesn’t work, but we all know those two actresses can do layered character acting so, again, you’re welcome.) It’s going to be so fun when she starts seeding information to this man so that all these terrible luarin nobles distrust one another and everything is chaos and I CAN’T WAIT. I CAN’T WAIT.

Then we’ve got a hint of another possible ally in Master Edgecliffe, though it’s entirely possible that someone in his store is sympathetic to the raka cause. I doubt this is the last we’ll hear of him. The same goes for the brief story of Imajane’s irritation with Topabaw, which I doubt is a singular thing. IT’S WORKING. ALY’S PLAN IS WORKING.

However, I think that Tamora Pierce includes the next scene with the Balitangs as a reminder of how brutal the luarin rulers are. It’s necessary for us to know that this isn’t going to be an easy rebellion, regardless of how well Aly’s plans are working. The only reason I say this is that prior to the “riot” sequence, everything goes so smoothly for Aly and the conspirators. They have more spies on their side than ever before; they’ve got new allies; they’re turning the city’s gossip against the luarin class; and Aly is able to slip more darkings into the nobles saddle blankets. But this isn’t going to be an overnight success by any means, and it was terrifying to see the King’s Watch demonstrate their power after the raka are goaded into a riot. First of all, BOO TO FERDY TOMANG. Ugh, you made it so much worse. Yet as impractical as Sarai’s reaction was, I still respected that she chose to speak up in support of the raka. Well, I should also say that Sarai threatening to strike Aly was SERIOUSLY FRIGHTENING. However, the King’s Watch showing up to LITERALLY TRAMPLE PEOPLE WITH THEIR HORSES is the worst part about this. It really does speak to what Sarai brings up pages later when she rails against what just happened: the ruling class views the poor raka as disposible. Which is also why it’s so significant that Zaimid, that dreamboat of a man, quickly heals the young raka boy with a broken arm and heals a cut on Eyun’s cheekbone. (And Dove also offers the kid food I JUST LOVE THESE PEOPLE SO MUCH.) Then he takes off to help all the raka injured in the riot instead of attending Sarai back to court like all the other nobles? UM WHO ARE YOU. my dream. Anyway, let me stop being ridiculous so I can comment on this incredible exchange:

“This is not the behavior of a properly bred young woman, it is the behavior of spider monkeys!”

“After seeing all those ‘properly bred’ people just sit there while people were being thrashed, I’d rather live with spider monkeys!” cried Sarai, eyes swollen with furious weeping.

BLESS YOU, SARAI, AND DOWN WITH RESPECTABILITY POLITICS. Oh my god, I loved this scene so, so much. I love it because Sarai is so right. She knows that this behavior has been sanctioned and passed along by the people ruling this country. She recognizes the endless oppression that the raka face, and she knows how impenetrable it feels. And as gross as Nuritin can be at times, even I was surprised by this:

“Getting enough power among ourselves to force the Crown to change how it rules the people, that is the way to change.”

Even if I disagreed with her, that was shocking because WAIT A SECOND, IS NURITIN AGREEING WITH SARAI ABOUT HOW THE RAKA ARE TREATED? What the hell? Ugh, Nuritin, YOU ARE SO COMPLEX.

This chapter ends on an empowering note, though, and I have hope because of it. As distressing as the riot was, I love that in the final scene of chapter seven, there’s a bit of redemption and catharsis to be found in Aly’s plan to set fire to the slave docks and ships:

When she had been brought to those docks and the slave markets beyond, she had promised herself that everyone who had fetched her there would come to regret it. It might take her years to find the actual pirates who had captured her, but the docks, and the vessels of some providers of captives for sale, made for a very fine start. She rather thought her mother would approve.

Well, first of all, I approve greatly of this. (And now I understand her comment earlier about wishing the crew were still onboard the ships.) But I love that this sort of vengeance is validated in this way. Aly gets a bit of closure while also seriously damaging the ability of the slaveholders/dealers to bring more slaves to Rajmuat and the Isles. It’s a form of direct action to help dismantle this horrible trade, so yeah, I kind of SUPER ADORE Aly for this.

Please note that the original text/videos contain uses of the words “idiot” and “stupid.”

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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