Mark Reads ‘Magic Steps’: Chapter 5

In the fifth chapter of Magic Steps, Pasco seeks out Sandry for guidance. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Circle Opens. 

Trigger Warning: For discussion of bullying, police brutality

Well, this escalated quickly. SO QUICKLY. I’ve got a lot to talk about, so let’s get to it.


Wow, I don’t feel bad for him at all. MAY MORE HUMILIATING THINGS HAPPEN TO HIM. It’s interesting to me how much of a prototype Vani is for the worst of the police force, the kind of guy who becomes a cop so he can continue to bully those around him. Only with the law on his side, of course. He strikes Pasco multiple times out of a misguided sense of blame, and then he says stuff like this:

“Stop it, Vani,” Reha protested. “You’d be cleaning chamberpots for weeks if Aunt Zahra saw that.”

“She won’t catch me, though, and you won’t tell if you’re wise.”

Oh, so he’s already one of those people, the ones who use fear and peer pressure while subscribing to the whole anti-snitch culture. Now, I’m not one to believe that this is an absolute; I totally get why many people or certain communities are hesitant to call the cops. I’d prefer not to myself because of… well, HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU HAVE TO HAVE ME EXPLAIN THIS. But in the context of Vani’s behavior and his future profession, this is a lot scarier. It’s why there’s so much corruption and systemic evil within the police force here in the United States. (I’m sure that’s the case in other countries, but I can’t speak to that with any certainty, so I’ll avoid it.) Not only are there plenty of bullies within these positions of power, but they’re encouraged to keep things internal. You’re not supposed to rat anyone out because it’s viewed as a betrayal of their code, you know? I have family on my mother’s side in law enforcement, and I grew up hearing about this kind of nonsense. The same goes for the military; my dad was in the Army, and he told us countless stories of looking the other way when people around him did truly heinous shit. Why?

Because you’re never supposed to tell.

I’m kinda stoked, then, that Edora Acalon not only refused to take Vani’s shit, but he criticized the others for not telling anyone that Vani was beating up on Pasco. That is how you shut down this kind of behavior. You not only stop the perpetrator from continuing to bully others, but you build an environment that encourages others to do what they can to stop this shit, too.


Magic Steps

Despite that I got an example of Pasco’s magic earlier in the book, I admit that I was largely unable to figure out how this kind of magic would actually work. Like… could you use it for practical purposes? What things could you do with dance magic? This helps answer that somewhat, though I still don’t exactly know what other applications it has. But I can tell that a lot of the power comes from intent and physicality. Pasco caused the three Acalons to float in the air because he wanted them to be affected by his dancing. Even if the magic was subconscious on some level, he suspected that his movement had some power behind it.

And this is where Sandry comes in. After Pasco dashes to the Citadel to get her, we get a chance to see how she’ll be as a teacher. She’s not perfect, and Pierce isn’t here to spin a fantasy around her. That’s one of the things that’s so great about this chapter: Sandry is well aware of her shortcomings as a teacher for Pasco because she’s still learning herself. And it’s not just that. She knows she’s entering a culture she’s not a part of. This feels like her introduction to harrier culture, so she treads delicately and thoughtfully throughout this, all so she can make this an easier process for everyone. FOR EXAMPLE:

Sandry nodded. “I understand. When I lived at Discipline, almost all we talked about was magic.” It wasn’t quite true, but it might help mother and son to relax, if she didn’t act critical.

Little things like this matter! And I appreciate that she cares about them enough to be considerate about how she interacts with those around her. When Gran’ther criticizes her for being a noble and Pasco’s potential teacher, she doesn’t offer up a witty retort. Instead, she demonstrates her talents and her professionalism, which says a whole lot more about her than words can. When it comes to teaching Pasco meditation… it’s a little more complicated. I got the sense that Sandry was very much aware of how strange this was. Pasco isn’t that much younger than her. She almost messes up before remembering that he needs to be warded, a perfect example of how Sandry is doing the best with what she has, and that means she may mess up with him. It’s an awkward situation, of course, but Sandry hides any potential embarrassment from Pasco. It seemed clear to me that Pasco was in awe of Sandry, so I think her demeanor helped her to win his respect.

Well, helping him figure out how to bring his friends back down to the ground probably contributed to that, too! Y’all, Sandry is so incredibly perceptive, and I love that she’s able to realize how Pasco will learn best:

He’d never work things out if she fed him the right answers. Of course, that meant she had to think of the right kinds of questions, those that would lead him to the answers.

With this sort of basis, I think Sandry and Pasco will fair well. They seem to already respect each other, which is a fantastic start, and her presence may have helped Zahra react better to the reveal that her son is a mage. I’m ready to see how this will go, y’all. It’s so exciting!

The Murder

LEAVE IT UP TO TAMORA PIERCE TO IDENTIFY ROKAT’S KILLER AT THE END OF THE FIFTH CHAPTER AND REVEAL THAT IT’S ACTUALLY A TRIO OF KILLERS. Alzena, Nurhar, and “the mage.” Who, by the way, is addicted to DRAGONSALT, so much so that it’s the only thing he’s relying on to get through the day. So we’ve got two people, one of whom is the granddaughter of “the mage,” using a man’s dragonsalt addiction to murder the Rotat family.




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

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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