In the sixth chapter ofÂ Magic Steps, Sandry learns the real reason behind the attack on Rokat House. Intrigued? Then itâ€™s time for Mark to readÂ The Circle Opens.
Trigger Warning: For violence, blood, and gore.
This keeps getting more and more messed up. Itâ€™s clear to me now that the scene in the Dukeâ€™s palace was meant to foreshadow the unbelievable act of brutality that would come at the end of this chapter. Qasamâ€™s fear is so much more unnerving now that I know just howÂ real it was.
Iâ€™m worried. Like the end of the last chapter, chapter six lays out a lot of exposition that IÂ expected later in the book. The mystery of Alzena, Nurhar, and their mage could have lasted much longer than it did, but Pierce reveals their motivationsÂ extremely early. WHICH MEANS THAT THEREâ€™S PLENTY OF ROOM FOR SOMETHING ELSE TO HAPPEN.
But before we start talking about the possibilities here, I did want to address everything revealed in this chapter. Just as Duke Vedris warned, the situation surrounding Jamar Rokatâ€™s murder is certainly complex, and I was thankful that I got a chance to understand more about Emelan as a whole and the layered political circumstances at work here. Namely, I got a sense for why the Rokat house was still allowed in this country and how Duke Vedris had negotiated that agreement. Myrrh is a vital import, but itâ€™s not like VedrisÂ had to rely on the Rokats for it. So when they appear to be reaping what theyâ€™ve sowed elsewhere in the world, itâ€™s understandable the Vedris and others arenâ€™t exactly eager to help them out. Isnâ€™t this what they do to others outside of Emelan?
But itâ€™s more complicated than that, and Qasamâ€™s breakdown in that room was the moment everyone (including myself) knew that this was a lot more serious and frightening than anticipated. (How awesome is that scene where Sandry gives Qasam her handkerchief because his is impractical? Gods, I adore her.) And thereâ€™s so much going on here, too! Youâ€™ve got all the interplay between Baron Erdogun and Vedris, as well as the reveal that the head of the provostâ€™s guard is largely unconnected to the merchantâ€™s world. These things shed light on the kind of ruler Vedris is, but they also help inform the atmosphere of this book.
So what weâ€™ve got playing out inÂ Magic StepsÂ is a business rivalry thatâ€™s morphed into a war, one where the Dihanur family are determined to wipe their competitors off the map. The scary part? It looks like theyâ€™ve already done it, at least as far as I know:
He drained his glass and set it down, shaking so hard that he nearly dropped it. â€œToday I received word they have gained the upper hand. In Bihan, in Janaal. My â€“ my father is dead, my mother, their parents, my sisters, and their husbandsâ€¦â€ He covered his face with his hands.
Who else is left? Who else lived in Rokat house? How many more people do the Dihanurs need to kill? However, I think thereâ€™s a more worrying end to this: If the Dihanurs succeed, does that mean theyâ€™ll try to fill the vacuum left in Emelan??? I suppose I wouldnâ€™t be so concerned about this if Pierce hadnâ€™t ended this chapter withÂ such a terrifying scene. Literally minutes after Qasam leaves the palace, heâ€™s attacked by Alzena and Nurhar, who are using a type of magic that isâ€¦ well,Â nothing.
She was clad in the essence of nothingness, like her husband Nurhar, and the mage, who was tucked in a niche in a nearby wall. The nothingness was the mageâ€™s special power, the unmagic that got them past the cleverest guards and the most powerful spells. It cloaked her and Nurhar and even himself in sheer emptiness. Guards and magical protections felt nothing because nothing was there. She could not even see Nurhar or the mage as she peered through the tiny slit in the spells that enabled her to look at the real world.
GREAT.Â JUST GREAT. So you canâ€™t even sense the magic because itâ€™s like aÂ void of magic. How are they going to combatÂ that? Iâ€™m also curious how the hell Pasco is going to play a part in all of this. I still feel like all these plots are playing out separately, you know? Damn, this isÂ really good. I am eager to keep reading!
The original text contains use of the word â€œmad.â€
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