Mark Reads ‘Magic Steps’: Chapter 8

In the eighth chapter of Magic Steps, Sandry helps at yet another crime scene. Inrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Circle Opens.

Trigger Warning: For blood, death.

You know, Sandry is basically getting to live out a teenage fantasy of… well, a lot of us. This chapter is, more or less, a chance for Sandry to use her skills as a TEENAGE DETECTIVE. She’s Nancy Drew-ing it all over this part of the story. (I hated the Hardy Boys so much. THEY WERE SO UNINTERESTING. Nancy Drew was way better.) I enjoyed viewing this through that lens, as if it was a way for others to insert themselves in this kind of fantasy. That’s so rewarding!

At the same time, I think there’s an interesting angle to Sandry’s work here. She uses her status as a noble – particularly as the duke’s great-niece – to help others. Sure, there’s an aspect of her characterization here that involves assuaging her curiosity, but that’s only to a certain point. She’s curious about the nature of the smears of unmagic, but mostly out of concern. She doesn’t know if they can rub off on others and cause them harm, and that alarms her. Plus, once she explains to the Guards on site what she wants to do, it’s clear that she’s looking out for the best interest of everyone else:

“I’m going to cover it, to protect it, till your harrier-mages can see it.”

The Guard raised his eyebrows. “That’s right sensible of your ladyship,” he said, his manner more respectful than it had been earlier. “Go ahead, do it.”

And I didn’t find it selfish of her to use her own underclothing to protect others. To me, that’s very much like Sandry, to use her status and her literal possessions for someone else’s benefit. How many other nobles would use silk underclothes they were actually wearing as crime scene markers??? None, I’d venture, and yet Sandry does this with no hesitation whatsoever. And like I said, she’s a curious person, but she knows that she’s got limits to that curiosity.

Sandry hesitated. Did she really want to go in that place? Hadn’t it been bad enough, seeing Jamar Rokat in pieces?

That’s about the only thing she’s reticent about, and understandably so. It’s not pleasing to her to be amidst such violent depravity, and if she could have gotten out of it without guilt, she probably would have. However:

But there was the matter of the unmagic smears. Every fiber of her being protested leaving them where they were.

Her instinct tells her how horrible those smears are, and she knows she can’t just leave this all behind.

There are a few hints towards what’s to come in this book, or at least I hope that’s the case. (I’M TRYING.) Obviously, Alzena’s injury and bloodloss is a huge deal, given that Wulfric’s famed power is to be able to track down people based on hair, blood, or fibers that they’ve left behind. With as much blood that she left behind, it seems hopeful that Wulfric will be able to track down Alzena and Nurhar. EXCEPT I’M SURE SOMETHING AWFUL WILL HAPPEN TO STOP THAT.

I also got thinking about Pasco’s powers when Sandry made reference to them:

The image of Pasco dancing to call up fish rose in her mind. “Isn’t there something else you could do?” inquired Sandry, her note forgotten. “Call him to you, if you have some piece of him?”

Now, while this is a reference to Wulfric’s tracking powers, I think it could be a sign of what sort of magic Pasco might be capable. It seems that his intention plays a huge part in the application of his magic, so could he call people to him with his dance-magic??? THE POSSIBILITIES WOULD BE ENDLESS.

Anyway, after Sandry assists Wulfric and the other Guards inside the Rokat house, exhaustion gets the best of her. (I don’t feel the need to talk about the gory, bloody details of the nursery in this space because it’s a bit too much. SO UPSETTING.) At first, I thought, “Hey, Pierce is showing that Sandry isn’t some invincible super mage! That’s cool! I’m glad to see realism like this in the text.”



She was tired. Only when she felt herself reaching for her friends did she realize they had fallen into the habit of borrowing strength from each other. No matter how hardworked any of them might be, at least one of the others would be rested and strong. Now she couldn’t do that, and she missed it.

Thanks for that punch right in my heart, Tamora Pierce. THANKS.

So what’s next for these characters? Well, with the surviving Rokat clan housed in the inner keep of the Duke’s Citadel, I am IMMEDIATELY TERRIFIED that this means that Alzena and Nurhar are going to try to break in to kill pretty much everyone. Are they going to care whether the Duke’s Guards get in the way? Most likely not, and with plenty of other characters wrapped up in this case, I’m going to start freaking out NOW about the big confrontation between these two groups. I don’t even doubt that it’ll happen at this point.

And because it needs to be said AGAIN: this book is so messed up.

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

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.
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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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