In the sixth chapter of Street Magic, Briar and Evvy learn more about one another. Intrigued? Then itâ€™s time for Mark to read The Circle Opens.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of poverty, slavery.
Oh, so much new stuff to talk about! LETâ€™S DO IT.
Hey. I NOTICED A THING. Granted, it was far more obvious once Pierce just spelled it out, but Briar is having FEELINGS. Mostly GIRL FEELINGS. There was the flirting in the last chapter, and then Evvyâ€™s reluctance to continue to accept Briarâ€™s charity. I was pleased that Briar wasnâ€™t offended by Evvyâ€™s very justified need to protect herself:
He was privately ashamed that he hadnâ€™t guessed she might think this. In her world, his old world, nobody gave anything for free.
Thatâ€™s absolutely fair of her to think.
Briarâ€™s view of women is changing with the dawn of puberty, but I was VERY AMUSED that he tried to be all detached and unemotional about leaving Discipline and getting away from his foster-sisters. Because guess whoâ€™s now drowning in feelings and affection? SEE, BRIAR, YOU ARE NOT EXEMPT FROM THESE THINGS CALLED â€œEMOTIONS.â€ They are a part of you, despite how hard you try to mask them or hide them. I justâ€¦ I love that he has a lot of affection for Tris, Daja, and Sandry.
I know that the last chapter confirmed Evvyâ€™s feelings towards Briar and the respect she had for him, but I think what happens here is just as important. Just the act of opening up about oneâ€™s life to someone you donâ€™t know well is a huge step in a friendship, and Evvy casually reveals a great deal about her life. Itâ€™s easy to imagine that she never talks about this shit with anyone, you know? And Iâ€™m not just talking about the shame and stigma that would come with poverty and slavery; she just doesnâ€™t have the time to make friends. Itâ€™s a logistical challenge all on itâ€™s own.
Yet she makes the effort to be curious about Briarâ€™s life while also talking about her own. I canâ€™t even guess when she got to do this last, yâ€™all. Itâ€™s clear that she enjoys it, at least with Briar that is. I say that because while she behaves towards Rosethorn with respect, sheâ€™s not nearly as open once she meets Briarâ€™s teacher. BUT ROSETHORN, Yâ€™ALL. Did you see how wonderfully she treated Evvy?
â€œI canâ€™t say that I blame you. Palaces are cold and unfriendly, as a whole.â€
Just two sentences, and Rosethorn validates Evvyâ€™s fears. Itâ€™s a smart move, and itâ€™s also nice that Rosethorn genuinely believes that. At the same time, Briar is well aware that this isnâ€™t a guarantee that Evvy will listen to Rosethorn. It takes way more for her to begin to trust someone, let alone reach the level that Evvy and Briar already have.
While I initially thought there were structural similarities between Magic Steps and Street Magic, I am happy to see how different these books feel. Evvyâ€™s struggle with her magic and her education is rooted in a desire to avoid being split between worlds. She finds an affinity in some of the nicer parts of her day â€“ like the hammam and the food and the company â€“ but itâ€™s not like theyâ€™re part of some dependable reality. Evvy is used to a shifting life. Poverty is not a source of stability, and so itâ€™s natural for her to completely distrust the nice things in her life. I still do this on a daily basis myself, and I donâ€™t know that Iâ€™ll ever escape it.
On top of that, Evvy knows that whatever she chooses next will affect a great deal more than sheâ€™s used to:
The only problem was that to learn more about stone, she would have to deal with more people on a steady basis than she had in years. Pahan Briar seemed all right, for a plant person, but he wasnâ€™t going to teach her. A stranger, one who lived in the palace, would teach her. Evvy wasnâ€™t sure she liked that. What if a real stone mage scorned her for what she didnâ€™t know?
Thatâ€™s a valid fear, especially when youâ€™ve lived without access to what most people have. I find thatâ€™s difficult for others to understand in a lot of contexts, including in academic circles. If youâ€™re used to money, if youâ€™re used to having access to academic materials, if youâ€™re used to never having to worry about a roof over your head, you often donâ€™t consider how things chance for those who do have to think of these things. I donâ€™t know anything about Stoneslicer, but I donâ€™t think itâ€™s a stretch to theorize that a noble mage isnâ€™t going to be sympathetic towards a poor escaped slave girl. I just hope that Evvy gets the help she needs.
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