Mark Reads ‘Magic Steps’: Chapter 7

In the seventh chapter of Magic Steps, everything is so messed up. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Circle Opens.

Trigger Warning: For talk of death, violence.

I am keenly aware of how unprepared I am for this book. It’s moving so quickly! HOW IS THIS HAPPENING NOW.

The Aftermath

Pierce is setting the pieces in place for the group to find a method of seeing unmagic in use, and it’s making me nervous. I’m now fully expecting some sort of awful confrontation between the Dihanurs and the people of Emelan. And we’ve got Sandry to thank for being the only person to even notice that Alzena and Nurhar left behind an essence of themselves on the two Guardsmen who survived the attack. That mark or smear is the only clue that eventually leads Wulfric Snaptrap (WHAT A BEAUTIFUL NAME) to the truth about what happened to Qasam.

It’s scary, and it’s a mess. One Guard – Guryil – broke his leg after his mount had their legs slashed. If it weren’t for Sandry’s observational skills? Look, I don’t even know what would have happened to Guryil. The unmagic stain on him was sapping the healer’s magic away, making it impossible to work. Would he have had to heal naturally, or would he have actually gotten worse? If unmagic really is the opposite of life, as we’ve seen in the mage utilizing it for Alzena and Nurhar, does that mean Guryil would have eventually wasted away?

That’s an unnerving thought. (This is an unnerving book, let’s be real.) But Sandry’s weaving magic saves the day, since she’s able to send threads of her magic into Guryil, weaving them around and through the shadow, and then SHE CLOSES IT ALL UP IN A MAGICAL CLOTH. Like, how is that not the coolest shit ever??? It just is, y’all. Of course, they’re going to have to come up with something a lot more efficient than having Sandry do it all by herself. But more on the unmagic in a bit!


Again, I appreciate that Pierce doesn’t make Sandry a perfect teacher. She knows that she’s got shortcomings as a tutor for Pasco, but that also doesn’t mean she’s awful. I think she’s pretty talented myself, but there’s room to grow. It doesn’t help that at times, Pasco is a lot more literal than she’s used to. For example:

Sandry tried to remember how Nike had explained it to them. Briar had chosen a carved wooden rose, Sandry a drop spindle, Daja a smith’s hammer. Tris had never said what she had imagined. “Well, it could be one of the rocks here–“

“Why ever would I want to fit into a rock?”

Bless you, Pasco. Perhaps the bribe method that Lark suggested will work better for him, as well as the change of scenery. I’m glad that Sandry was able to realize that Pasco was not comfortable studying in the palace because it was too uncomfortable. Perhaps The Crooked Crow will serve him better!


I was actually prepared to start shipping Yazmín and Lark because why not, but the idea of Duke Vedris and Yazmín dating is really, really adorable. Her arrival here is a blessing in two sense. A lot of Sandry’s current stress is due to how overwhelming her life is. She’s tasked with taking care of both Duke Vedris and Pasco, and her own studies are most likely taking a backseat to these pressing matters. Yazmín, if she’s interested, could actually alleviate some of that work, you know? I also think it’s crucial that when it comes to dancing, Pasco has to learn from another dancer. For the introductory stuff, Sandry is just fine as a teacher, but she knows she’ll reach a point where she cannot guide Pasco at all.


The more I think about unmagic, the more it messes me up. Can unmagic get out of control? Like, what happens to all the unmagic left behind, like it was on Guryil and Lebua? Is it only active when being used by a mage? Oh god, WHAT ABOUT THIS:

“People also use it to collapse distances and walk between places, if they can bear it,” Lark added. “One man who jumped from Lightsbridge to Nidra through unmagic lay in a fever for a year, raving. Later he wrote that his senses all went dead; he was trapped inside his own mind.


Fariji Rokat

I don’t even know what to say. It’s beyond what could be described as “messed up.” Alzena is so ruthless here, and it’s clear that her superiors truly wanted her to destroy everyone in this family. She kills a baby, y’all. A baby, a young girl, Fariji, and then the possibly pregnant mother. There’s no remorse or hesitation. In fact, all she feels is a mild irritation that this wasn’t as fun as it could have been.

There ought to be fun in this victory over the hated Rokats. Even the prospect of her family’s pleasure in what she did seemed unimportant now. Before coming to the house she had worried about killing the children, but when her work got to that, she had been cold. What was the point to any of this, if she felt nothing?

I honestly don’t know what to say. WHAT THE HELL.

The original text contains use of the words “mad” and “crazy.”

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.
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