In the epilogue of Magic Steps, everything still hurts. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Circle Opens.
It’s weird to say that I feel sad reading the end of this book. It’s the first of a quartet, but I get the sense that each of the books in The Circle Opens will only follow one main character and their teacher, so that means it’ll be a long while until I see Sandry, Lark, and Pasco again. WHO I ADORE SO MUCH. But it also comes from the almost Pyrrhic victory here in Magic Steps. Sandry and Pasco stopped the Dihanur assassins, but at what cost? How will the trauma of what these people experienced affect their lives to come? What role will Lark and Discipline House play in Sandry’s life? I don’t really now the answers to these questions, and Pierce leaves me to ponder them. Which is appropriate, I should say. It fits that there’s no definitive end here because… well, it leaves these characters open for future stories in this world.
There is some closure for Pasco, though. His work in capturing these killers has allowed his family to see how their son can stay in the family business while pursuing what he loves. What’s so cool about this to me is that in the end, Pasco is utterly thrilled to be able to do both things. It’s hard feeling like you’re destined for a certain career because of those who came before you. However, Pasco still wants to do harrier work. He still finds it exciting. It’s just that he gets to explore while also learning to be a better mage and a better dancer:
“If I don’t understand my magic, the good and the bad, I’m not a mage at all. I’m just a tool, to be used, like that poor chuff the killers were using. Anyone could put their hand to me, and make me work however they want, if they figure out how to control me. That’s not counting the trouble I might get myself into, not knowing what I can do and what I can’t.”
That’s growth, y’all. Pasco recognized his shortcomings in using his magic for greedy, self-serving reasons, and he has promised to do himself better. That involves being well-rounded, too! It’s something that Sandry wanted him to learn all along, but she was never quite sure she could impart that on him.
As for Sandry, I was thankful that Pierce did not ignore that Sandry had been through a major trauma:
For days after that dreadful meeting with the Dihanurs and their mage, she had kept to her rooms at Duke’s Citadel, eating little, thinking a great deal. She’d had to force herself to talk to Pasco a week later. Even then she had done it only because the duke had said the boy thought she was furious with him because he’d been caught.
None of that is atypical of a character like Sandry. She’s always been a thoughtful person, so it makes sense to me that she’d be haunted like this by what happened and what she had to do. She’s not careless about such things, and I imagine that the other Discipline kids would have reacted differently if put into the same circumstances. Still, Sandry was so determined to catch the Dihanur assassins in a way that spared their lives, and she doesn’t take it lightly that she killed three people, however deserving of it they might have been.
“You acted as an adult, and you did it without hate. I’m not sure I could have done it without hating them, after seeing that poor maimed boy.”
“There’s blood on my hands,” whispered Sandry, looking at them.
“Good. As long as you feel that way, you won’t become like them, will you?” asked Lark.
It’s an important distinction that Sandry may not have come to on her own. That’s not to say that she’s entirely dependent on Lark, of course, so I found it appropriate that immediately after this, Lark pushes Sandry into realizing that she’s finally outgrown Discipline. I suppose that’s part of the reason I felt so sad reading this, too. I grew attached to these characters because of their time at Discipline, and it’s always a wistful thing to see someone grow up. But I’m proud of Sandry, and I’m in awe of what she’s accomplished in such a short time. She knows that it’s time for Lark to teach someone new (the eternally shy Comas, who we barely meet here), and it’s time for her to begin thinking about what she wants to do with her life. My only hope is that we get to see some of that journey in the future.
Now, normally with a series, I get to a point where I have a decent number of predictions for the next book. BUT THIS IS A VERY UNIQUE CHALLENGE SET BEFORE ME. If these books are indeed focused on a singular character, then they’re not serialized as I might expect. I honestly don’t even know who Street Magic focuses on, so you’ll get one prediction for the next book. Which I’ll discover if I’m right or wrong about soon, and in the meantime, you can cackle at me to your heart’s content.
All right, so! Given the name, I predict that Street Magic will focus on Briar Moss and will also be set where he grew up in Sotat.
LET’S DO THIS.
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