Mark Reads ‘Daja’s Book’: Chapter 8

In the eighth chapter of Daja’s Book, the group makes two important discoveries on a day trip to visit the Dalburz glacier. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Circle of Magic.



UGH, THERE’S JUST SO MUCH DEPTH HERE. It’s clear now that Polyam has been genuine with Daja throughout this. There’s still friction between the two of them, and most of that arises from the fact that Polyam is still part of a culture that Daja was ostracized from. It’s why Polyam is bewildered by Daja referring to her friends as saati. It’s such a serious term, but Polyam has no idea of what these people have been through together. However, Daja has been forced to adapt, and that includes bending her traditions to fit her new world:

“What else am I supposed to call them?” Daja asked, surprised. “Tris, Briar, Sandry – they’re as close to me as my own blood. It’s been a long summer,” she said, wishing that explained their friendship and knowing it didn’t even come close. “We’ve been through a lot together.”

May the Circle of Friendship never die, y’all.

Daja and Polyam do get a brief chance to be honest with one another about their roles within (or outside of) Trader culture, and it’s one of my favorite scenes in the book thus far. (WHY WAS IT INTERRUPTED? UNFAIR.) Of note is the fact that Polyam’s backstory demonstrates that, once again, Trader culture values luck in a way that’s immensely messed up. It is not Polyam’s fault that she is disabled, and it’s upsetting that she’s been made into the person she is all because of a landslide. Her low status within the caravan is due to her appearance and due to the fact that she can longer provide the same service to the caravan she did before she lost her leg. But she also recognizes that her status as a wirok is ultimately dissimilar to being trangshi. SO THIS HAPPENS:

She ran her fingers over the cap on her staff, as if memorizing the engravings and inlays that told her life story. “I’ll pray to Koma and Oti every day that you find a way to lay up so much zokin that your name will be taken from the trangshi logs, and you’ll be able to return to our people.”

There’s a respect that these two have with one another that I adore. I don’t think this is something that pretty much any other Trader would say to Daja. At the same time, we see how Daja tries to negotiate a price for her iron tree specifically so that it’ll bring Polyam the most zokin. This is not the relationship I thought these two would have back when they first interacted with one another. It is progress!


So, I know understand some of the major differences between mimanders and the mages at the Winding Circle, especially the four Discipline kids. As the group discovers the possible solution to the drought in the Dalburz glacier and a new thread of copper, Polyam expresses shock at the different ways in which magic manifests in these people. It makes sense that someone from a culture who deals with capturing wind (and knows how dangerous it is) would balk at the very discussion of manipulating the natural world to do what you need from it. While learning about the strip of lava that Daja sensed days before, we also get a glimpse of the possibility in that glacier.

Water. And lots of it. Of course, it’s a delicate problem. If lava can somehow be directed into the faults in the glacier’s valley, it can melt the glacier, sending much-needed water into Gold Ridge. However, they don’t want to flood the place, and they also haven’t discussed the possible negative ramifications of melting so much of a glacier. Hopefully, that won’t have other ill-effects on the environment here. Still, it’s an attractive theory, one that could relieve Gold Ridge of its many problems tied to their drought.

The same goes for the vein of copper that Daja accidentally found with her copper flower. The drought isn’t the only problem here; the failing copper mines have threatened the economy here. So there’s some hope! (And lots of sassiness from Briar when he corrects Niko’s tree.)

Which is why I think Pierce follows this up with Yarrun being utterly insufferable again. Look, I might be falling for a misdirect (AGAIN, LIKE I ALWAYS DO), but I don’t like, and I don’t trust him. When he puts out the fire that nearly latches on to an almond orchard, he has to announce himself to everyone. It’s a performance, and it’s his way of acting out this disturbing sense of entitlement and vindictive rage. There’s nothing enjoyable about what he does, y’all. It unnerves me because at the end of the day, Yarrun’s ego is more important to him than the safety of Gold Ridge. I worry that this is going to backfire horribly, and he won’t be the one who pays the price for it.

The original text contains use of the word “mad.”

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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