Mark Reads ‘Magic Steps’: Chapter 1

In the first chapter of Magic Steps, POSSIBLE CIRCLE OF FRIENDSHIP! Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Circle Opens.

Oh, this is going to be so much fun. Just as a reminder: please don’t hint towards who else shows up in the future. I want to be surprised about it because THIS IS GREAT! I want to be thrilled by characters I know returning and captivated by brand new ones I’ve never met.

ALSO. CIRCLE OF FRIENDSHIP. Oh gods, where is everyone else? What are they up to? I NEED TO KNOW EVERYTHING.

Okay, let’s start at the beginning. Since I don’t actually know what this book is about, I’ve got a lot to pick through here. Obviously, with a book that picks up after another series’ ending, I’m left with a ton of questions. Where is this set? How long has passed since Briar’s Book? Which characters show up here? How does this specific quartet differ from the last one? Some of those questions are answered immediately; Sandry seems to be the focus of Magic Steps. Wouldn’t it be cool if these books mirrored the order of the last four??? Anyway, she’s been spending time on her break from Winding Circle at her uncle’s castle. (What break? Summer break? Do they have those at school?) She’s now fourteen, placing this at least two years after the events of Briar’s Book, possibly three.

And Duke Vedris had a heart attack.

Tamora Pierce drops in this detail and then frames the entire introductory chapter around it. It’s affected Emelan, and it’s affected Sandry, too. These two characters have always had a tender, caring relationship, but you can also see the strain between them because of this uncomfortable reality. I imagine that mortality is on both of their minds, which isn’t to say that neither of them have ever had brushes with death. (Still not over the last chapter of Briar’s Book, y’all. I may never be.) But when Sandry can see the Duke’s weakness in his movements, it’s hard not to think about his eventual end. Still, Sandry pushes on; we see her here offering Duke Vedris help, scorning him for getting up early to do his usual work, and it’s all way too adorable for words. I like that there’s tension here that’s centered around two people loving each other. There’s no nastiness at all, and yet it’s still awkward. Is Sandry actually considering the possibility of staying behind to take care of the Duke?

We don’t know quite yet, but for the time being, she’s right by his side while he makes his first public appearance since his heart attack six weeks prior to the opening of the book. She’s clearly worried about his how strenuous his work is, particularly since Duke Vedris is the kind of extrovert who gets energy from talking to his subjects. He’s not one to want to stop talking to people. I wonder, then, why Pierce drew our attention to Jamar Rokat. I desperately hope that he’s not the sole character wearing a turban in this book because there’s an unfortunate implication there if that’s the case. Will he matter to the story in Magic Steps or was this just a chance for Pierce to show us that not everyone is a fan of Duke Vedris?

But y’all. Y’ALL. I did not expect to go into this book and immediately meet a new character. While the end of the first chapter hints at a huge amount of potential for Pasco Acalon, I spent most of this wondering why it was so necessary to see from Pasco’s eyes. Not that it was a bad thing! I found it quite thrilling. A character of color who summons magic THROUGH DANCE? Sign me the hell up. He’s got a sister – Halmaedy – who works for the Provost’s Guard (GO SAY HI TO BEKA COOPER FOR ME just kidding), and a fairly big family aside from her. He’s also got a best friend in Osabo Netmender, who I think is a fisherman? Osa seems to be primarily interested in catching fish, and that’s why Pasco is asked to dance over a net at the end of the chapter.

However, I got the sense that Pasco doesn’t really believe in luck brought about in this way. He quickly dismisses Osa’s examples of it working, but then… he does it anyway. Which perplexed me at first! Why go through with the ritual if you truly didn’t believe in it? Well, I imagine the silver crescent played a huge part in that. I’m also guessing that the fishing problem is significant enough that Pasco knows that his community needs it. At the same time, when he does start dancing, he feels the magic course through him:

Square by square he called the fish, and he felt them answer, their tails flicking through the squares as his feet did. Oddly, his legs and feet were so warm they seemed almost fiery, though the warmth only came as high as his waist. It wasn’t an uncomfortable warmth – if anything, it gave him strength.

So is it real? Does the magic help? Are these the magic steps referenced in the title? WILL PASCO ACT ON HIS INSTANTANEOUS CRUSH ON SANDRY??? These are the hard questions I’m asking.

Mark Links Stuff

– The Mark Does Stuff Tour 2015 is now live and includes dates across the U.S., Canada, Europe, the U.K., and Ireland. Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be the remainder of The Legend of Korra, series 8 of Doctor Who, and Kings. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
- Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!
– If you would like to support this website and keep Mark Does Stuff running, I’ve put up a detailed post explaining how you can!
– Please check out the All Mark Watches videos for past shows/season are now archived there!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
This entry was posted in Emelan, Magic Steps, The Circle Opens and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.