Mark Reads ‘Cold Fire’: Chapter 2

In the second chapter of Cold Fire, Daja tests the Bancanor children for magic. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Circle Opens

Wow, I missed Frostpine so much.

He and Daja have such a playful rapport with one another, perhaps more so than any of the other characters. (I feel like Briar would fight me on that, but whatever.) They’re at ease with one another so often, and I think that’s because they simply get along so perfectly. There’s a part of me that wants to believe that a significant aspect of this is that both characters are black and invested in having each other’s back. But race isn’t quite the same in Emelan as it is in our world, though there are certainly a ton of similarities.

I think we could spend all day analyzing the friendship between Daja and Frostpine, and honestly? I expect to do this a lot on tour this year because I LOVE THESE TWO SO DEARLY. This chapter is a wonderful reminder of what an ideal mentor Frostpine is for Daja. He’s patient and kind, eager to crack a joke to set the mood, and heavily interested in shaping Daja to be the best person she can be. Even when Frostpine informs Daja that she may have to be responsible for Nia and Jory, he does so in a way that exhibits all these characteristics. He appreciates the humorous nature of Daja’s shock, but he also makes it clear that the task she’s got set before isn’t going to be as hellish or chaotic as she imagines it:

“Don’t panic,” Frostpine said firmly. “Cook-mages, at least, are as common as salt. Magic-sniffers who can see and identify ambient magic aren’t common, but the Mages’ society keeps a list of those who can do it. Chances are, once you know what kind of magic Nia has, you’ll be able to find a teacher with her magic as easily as you’ll be able to find a cook-mage for Jory. In the meantime, start teaching them to meditate. If Jory’s magic is popping out without her knowledge, Nia’s can’t be far behind. They need to learn to control it sooner rather than later.”

It’s a start, and that’s what is important here. Like Sandry and Briar, Daja can begin some sort of training by teaching meditation. While I’m not so sure she’ll have train both girls at once, I can tell that this is going to be a challenge for her for an entirely different reason then the other Discipline children. I was pleased that Pierce, through the text, acknowledged that Daja had a complicated view of her own magic. It makes the book feel honest. It’s not exactly the most comfortable thing in the world to read about Daja feeling conflicted about being a mage, but it’s necessary. This is not Daja’s world, and despite the events of Daja’s Book, she is still going to feel like an outsider. You can see that in the section where she’s alone in her room, trying to build some sort of mirror to detect magic. Trader culture will forever be a part of her sense of self, but she still talks about it or thinks of it in a detached way, almost as if it is happening to someone else.

So when Daja does make it to the Bancanor house, it’s easy for me to see how she doesn’t belong in this space, either. I don’t think Daja thinks she does, though. The Bancanor family is exceedingly rich, and it shows. From the maids and servants, to the quality of the food, to the pomp and procession, it’s clear that these people live a life that most don’t. I was pleased that they were all so nice, though I suspect that might partially be because Kol, Frostpine, and Matazi are all such good friends. However, that wouldn’t account for their supportive reaction to finding out that Nia is a carpentry-mage or that Jory is a cook-mage. They respond perfectly, point blank. They’re supportive, excited, and happy, and it’s nothing like what Pasco’s family was like. Granted, there is that uncomfortable conversation about the Namornese tradition of arranged marriage that feels strange to read, but at the very least, I appreciated that the twins’s parents were so willing to change their lives to accommodate their children.

There was one more thing I wanted to talk about. It seems pretty obvious to be that Pierce is setting up Bennat Ladradun to be a mentor to Daja in a way that Frostpine can’t. That’s fascinating to me because it’s something that the other main characters have not had. Everyone speaks highly of Bennat and for good reason! The man has changed how fires – a frequent thing in Namorn – are dealt with, so much so that they’ve become “casual” affairs to the Namornese. Well, not all of them; part of what Bennat is trying to accomplish involves converting all the islands to this method of firefighting. He cares, obviously so, and I think that’s a good thing for Daja to look up to. I don’t want her to develop a crush on him and do things for him out of some expectation of reciprocation, but I don’t think we’re even close to anything like this right now. She’s enamored with him because he’s so brave and selfless, and those are admirable qualities to have.

Mark Links Stuff

Please help book/finalize the Mark Does Stuff European Tour!
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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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