Mark Reads ‘Sandry’s Book’: Chapter 13

In the thirteenth and final chapter of Sandry’s Book, CIRCLE OF MAGIC. I GET IT NOW. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Circle of Magic. 

Trigger Warning: For discussion of phobias in general. 

I wasn’t ready at all. LET’S DISCUSS ALL OF THE WAYS IN WHICH THIS BOOK HAS DESTROYED ME WITH ITS FINAL CHAPTER.

– Sandry’s Fear: There are ways this book has ruined me with overwhelming displays of beauty and joy, and then I’ve also experienced that thing Tamora Pierce does where she crushes me with emotional distress. One of the things I’ve found so compelling about Sandry’s Book is how she’s kept the trauma these kids have gone through a part of their stories in a way that respects what they’ve been through. And now, we’re beginning to see how they’re going they might be able to overcome their insecurities and phobias. That’s at the end of this chapter, though, and before Sandry and the others get to that point, she has a raw moment of fear that hurt to read:

Sandry had listened, shame and terror filling her mind. She was letting her friends down, sitting by useless when they were in danger. It had been the same when Pirisi was killed. Would she let that happen again? Couldn’t she help?

Well, that hurts.

– Sandry’s Talent: Given that the U.S. book was called Sandry’s Book, I wondered why her magic was left out of the previous chapter. While I’m sure folks have issues with the name of the book, I didn’t find it too distracting. But now I’ve got a sense for why someone might call this Sandry’s Book: she’s the thread the holds together the magic of her friends. When Daja, Tris, and Briar cannot cast the net of their magic far enough, she realizes that she can use her weaving to join them to one another, increasing their magic. THEY INCREASE THEIR MAGIC THROUGH FRIENDSHIP, Y’ALL. I’ll comment more on that later. What I want to focus on is how this whole sequence is a stunning reference to one of Sandry’s first lessons in weaving, where Lark reveals to her that her experience helped knot a string unknowingly. Here, though, it’s all about purpose. There’s no accident happening in this scene. Sandry knows exactly what she’s doing. Sure, she’s not certain if it will work, but she knows that she still has to try.

And oh my god, what each of the characters choose to imbue into the string is so perfect for each of them. Daja chooses a moment that validated her magic. Tris thought of a time when she felt like she belonged in the world. Briar chose a moment where he felt wanted. AND SANDRY CHOSE FRIENDSHIP.

help me.

– Mental Action: Admittedly, it’s hard to convey action that doesn’t necessarily happen within the physical world as we understand it, but Pierce takes an ambitious idea, and SHE MAKES IT HAPPEN. The magical interactions that unfold in this chapter are not hard to visualize, despite that they’re so strange. We understand what these characters are reaching for. And speaking as someone who has a hard time visualizing things in his own head, I’ve always appreciated that Pierce doesn’t leave me feeling confused about the setting, the location of any of the characters, or what affects their actions have. It certainly helped that I knew what specific elements or aspects of nature were attached to each character, and that was described beautifully. Of course, it all flows together so smoothly because it’s so easy for us to imagine these four characters working to help one another and the group as the whole. In that moment, their issues and concerns with each other don’t matter; they care only about safety.

– Their Lessons Matter: I loved the synchronicity here. Like Sandry’s lesson with Lark provided the key to joining them together, each character is able to pull from their lessons with their teachers to save themselves. Daja realizes that she can pinch wire out of the liquid metal to protect the suraku; Briar draws his knowledge from the shakkan tree to strengthen the cage; and Tris combines her knowledge of meditation, the tides, earthquakes, and a number of other things to save them all. I especially think that this matters because it supports the non-traditional format of this narrative. There was little conflict beyond the personal for the entirety of Sandry’s Book, and the threat of earthquakes was only in the last two chapters. But what happened over the course of these characters’ journeys allowed this tale to be told like this. If it weren’t for their studies and their sensitivities, how much worse would this have been for Winding Circle? Given how close they were to the hub itself, I wonder if the Hub would have collapsed if these four hadn’t been stuck beneath it.

– No Easy Healing: I did enjoy that Pierce showed us that what these four children had done took an immense toll on them, physically and mentally. It was consistent with what had happened to Tris!

– Death: I’m serious, y’all. I was so prepared to make a bunch of predictions for Tris’s book revolve around Honored Huath and his work at Wave Circle. I thought this book was setting up a conflict with him! And then, right after Sandry demands that Huath be punished for what he did to try and defy nature, NIKO REVEALS THAT HUATH AND THE ENTIRE CIRCLE DIED.

What the hell.

– Magical Thoughts!: Oh, the sheer potential of this new development is too much to happen. After sharing such an intense magical experience, all four of the Discipline students can now communicate entirely through thought. I CANNOT WAIT TO SEE WHAT THEY DO WITH THIS.

– Returning Home: Oh, I totally picked up on what they each did when they returned to Discipline. They went straight to the one thing that helped them get through their ordeal below the earth. (Except for Tris, but she plays an important part in the finale of the book, so I’ll get to her last.) Daja was the first to figure out a method to protect her friends below the earth, so she goes to her suraku and clean it as a sign of respect. And then… NOPE>

“It saved me twice,” she explained to her gods and ancestors as she set up her alter again. “I had to repay the debt.” If they were displeased that she had tended it before them, they showed no sign of it. She didn’t think they would be.

Like I mentioned in the video for this, it breaks my heart that Daja is still so committed to her culture and its ideals even after that very same culture rejected her because of bad luck. I’m going to project all over this because I’ve had such severe issues with being latin@ and Chican@ since I was adopted. I’ve wanted so badly to feel like I belong to my culture, despite that because I was adopted and don’t speak Spanish naturally, I was routinely rejected by other latin@ folks. It’s such a complicated thing to go through, and the identity politics associated with it are a nightmare to navigate. So even though this only was two paragraphs of this chapter, it still hit me REALLY HARD.

– Circle of Magic: NO. NOPE. I ALMOST BURST INTO TEARS READING THIS.

Sandry’s first act, once home, was to put her green drop spindle on a shelf. Beside it she placed the thread with four lumps in it. It had somehow woven its loose ends together as she had spun it underground, and now it formed a ring. There was no way even to tell where the loose ends had met: the circle was complete, the four lumps equally spaced.

IT’S THE TITLE OF THE SERIES AND IT’S A CIRCLE BUILT FROM THEIR EXPERIENCE TOGETHER AND IT’S EACH OF THEIR LUMPS AND THERE’S NO START OR BEGINNING AND I AM UTTERLY RUINED BY THIS BOOK.

– Circle of Friendship: But there was nothing here that destroyed me more than the ending of this book. Again, I can’t ignore how incredible it is that this book was written as it was because it should not work. And yet it does, beautifully so! Tris, who has the hardest time feeling any sort of affection for anyone or believing that her time in Discipline was going to be permanent, decides to give Sandry a gift. And it means so much to me that Daja, Tris, and Briar unquestioningly accept that Sandry is afraid of the dark and that it’s not going to go away immediately. So they decide to give her a crystal found in the ground they were trapped in, but it glows with their power, always providing her with light when she needs it. (I should also note that Tris offers to help Briar learn how to read, too!) Which means that a new circle has formed:

Sandry’s eyes filled and spilled over. “Thank you,” she said. “I couldn’t ask for better friends.”

CIRCLE OF FRIENDSHIP. IT’S REAL AND IT’S HERE. I COULD NOT ASK FOR ANYTHING MORE. Well, except more books, but I’m already getting that.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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