In the tenth chapter of Sandry’s Book, I AM SO THRILLED WITH THIS BOOK. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Circle of Magic.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of animal abuse and bullying.
OH MY GOD, THIS IS JUST SO WONDERFUL. Yet again, I don’t even understand how this book is going to end because where is the main conflict? However, it doesn’t affect how much I’m enjoying this, and I think that’s incredible in and of itself. I didn’t know you could pull this off! It seems impossible, and yet here I am. That being said, I wonder if this book is specifically about how these four characters come to accept themselves. That could be a central conflict, and it would work beautifully.
I say that because of the cathartic reveal made partway through this chapter. Everything that leads up to this moment highlights character traits and suggests that these kids are at the right point and place in their lives to grow. Which is very important! Once I went back through this chapter, I picked up on things I didn’t catch when I was reading this the first time, though I was very aware of THE GREATNESS OF SANDRY. BECAUSE SANDRY IS SO GREAT HERE.
Let’s start with that, because I can’t get over how fearless and determined she is once she sees wrongness. It’s a consistent quality of hers, and I love the idea that she uses her privilege and position to do right by others. She’s quick to recognize that a dog is being harmed, and when she observes that a bunch of merchant boys are responsible, SHE DOESN’T HESITATE TO KICK THE CRAP OUT OF THEM. Six boys, y’all. She saw a group of six cruel boys, and she still tried to save that dog all on her own. That’s incredible. I ADORE THE VERY GROUND SHE WALKS ON.
And then we see how each of the other three Discipline kids join in. Daja hears a commotion, recognizes Sandry’s voice, and immediately goes to support her. At the very least, I think that Sandry and Daja are probably the “closest” of anyone else here, which isn’t to deny that Daja is going through issues with these people. But I noticed that there was no hesitation here. She knew Sandry was in trouble, and she never once questioned getting involved.
Briar is… well, he’s a lot more complicated:
What was he supposed to do, rescue her and Daja? Because they lived together, did that make them his gang?
He sighed. He did owe Sandry for yesterday, and in Deadman’s District, debts always had to be paid sooner before later. Besides, it looked like a good fight, against plump merchant boys.
Briar’s reasoning is not one based in friendship or mutual protection. He has to wager what purpose this serves or how he can benefit from acting. Which I understand, given his past. Briar has to wager these sort of things because he’s so used to being unable to trust anyone. On top of that, I don’t think there’s anyone more resistant to the idea of fitting in or assimilating into this culture than Briar. He’s averse to doing anything that might suggest he’s going to find permanence here, and that includes being friendly for the sake of it.
In a sense, I think that Tris is similar to Briar. She’s also got to determine whether getting involved is appropriate for her or whether she risks getting hurt in the process. It’s a fair consideration! But it’s Sandry’s kindness (represented by the tapestry she gifted to Tris) that inspires her to do something. Initially, that’s looking for an adult, but then she sees the water in the harbor and HOLY SHIT, THIS BOOK TAKES A DRASTIC TURN. I found it an exhilarating examination of Tris’s power, particularly since it was so intentional. Once she FLOATED ON THE AIR AND PULLED WATER OUT OF THE HARBOR, she didn’t react with fear; she pressed on. And I think that’s why Pierce couldn’t keep the truth away from these kids anymore and why Niko reveals what he knows about them and their natures. What Tris does is with purpose. Of course, she finds out that this doesn’t mean she can control the power she summons, but I’m with Sandry here: Tris still stands in front of the others to stop her waterspout from destroying him.
Let’s also appreciate this:
Rosethorn glared at them. “You were told to stay out of trouble.”
“It wasn’t so bad.” Briar put a hand over an eye that was rapidly going black. “Nobody was killed.”
THANK YOU, BRIAR.
And then it just gets better. Sandry continues to stand up for what’s right, at great risk to herself, and I think it’s yet another example of her using her privilege as a noble to do good. I’m not suggesting that she was unfair in appealing to her uncle, but she used her nobility to speak the truth. And that is important. Duke Vedris’s decision is so wonderful, too, because he calls the bluff of all the parents who are outraged that their sons got their asses kicked by a bunch of poor kids who are clearly younger and smaller than their children. But it’s during this tense conversation that a random woman says this:
“If she’s ignorant of it, why is she with Lark and Rosethorn?” a woman snapped. “Everyone knows the mageborn are placed in their care.”
WELL, IT’S OUT IN THE OPEN NOW, ISN’T IT? Each of these four characters manages their shock and acceptance to different degrees, though, unsurprisingly, Briar is the one who has the most trouble with the concept. He repeatedly tells Rosethorn that Niko was wrong about him, despite that there’s an unreal amount of evidence to the contrary. Why is that so? Why does he reject this notion so outright? I worry that Briar is resistant to seeing himself as special or having any sense of worth, and it makes me sound. He’s such a resilient kid who has been dealt a shitty lot in life, and he takes it personally. Lord, do I ever understand that. It’s hard not to believe the universe has it out for you when you live like Briar has. As Niko later points out to them, each of these kids has basically been through hell recently, and finding out that you’re mageborn on top of all of that is a jarring thing to experience.
In that sense, I do understand why Niko’s been so deliberately mysterious, though I support these characters demanding answers from him. They deserve it at the very least because their lives are full of mistruths and disruptions as it is. So what is this going to mead for them? I admit that it’s hard for me to theorize about the implications of all this because I’m so unfamiliar with how mages work in this universe. Is there a social stigma attached to magic? Why do the people in the markets react so viscerally to use of magic? Is there some other subtext or context here that I’m missing? What journey are these four kids going to be on now?
I did get the sense that even amongst mages, these characters possess a very special and unique form of magic, which is why none of them tested positively for magic in the past. But what’s responsible for mageborn children? Is it a genetic thing or is it unexplained? Why are these four so important to magic as a whole? WHEN WILL ALL OF MY QUESTIONS BE ANSWERED?
The original text contains use of the words “crazy” and “stupid.”
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