Mark Reads ‘Cold Fire’: Chapter 7

In the seventh chapter of Cold Fire, Daja works alongside a friend and then helps out a person she thinks is a friend but is secretly HER WORST ENEMY. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Circle Opens

Teraud Voskajo

Is it strange that I’m thankful there’s someone ugly in this book, that not everyone is described as being traditionally attractive all the time? Also, Daja is black, so I get the fact that she adds the racial qualifier before describing Teraud. I know that race might not work as it does in our world, and I wouldn’t dream of speaking for black folks. But I do the same thing and I have done it since I was very young. It’s always been a part of the way I talk about other people because… well, I was made aware of race at an early age, to be honest. Growing up for a few years in Boise, Idaho and being part of a tiny handful of non-white students at school was certainly a huge influence on me, and I like the idea that it’s affected Daja to some degree.

But I think that Teraud is an important character aside from his appearance. Like the Bancanors, he’s got his own role in the story and he works as a mirror for Morrachane Ladradun. We can look at how he treats those who work for him and see how glaringly obvious it is that Morrachane isn’t an awful person. And yeah, it seems like it would be common practice to PROPERLY FEED YOUR SERVANTS, but clearly, Morrachane is more interested in her own profit and paranoia. She doesn’t view her workers as an integral part of her business, eager to share in the successes they work towards. Nope, they’re all potential failures who may cost her money, and you can tell that’s as far as she gets with them. Y’all, when Daja tips one of her runners a silver argib, HE TRIES TO RETURN IT TO HER BECAUSE HE IS THAT UNUSED TO NICE THINGS. !!!!!!! this is a travesty !!!!!!

I like Teraud. I want to see more of him.

The Hero

Every time one of us reads a sentence where Ben is knowingly praised by these characters because none of them are aware of his secret, Tamora Pierce gets a spring in her step. She just feels it, that little bounce, that uplifting sensation that she is actively ruining our lives with her writing. This is downright unbearable, and I am not ashamed at how many times I shouted at Bennat because of this chapter. This is the image that he has created, meticulously and carefully, since his family died. I’m willing to question any part of his crafted backstory. What if he killed his family??? What if he set every fire he’s fought since he completed his training with Godsforge? Watching him spell out all these lies and half-truths is extremely unnerving to watch, y’all, especially when HE ISN’T AROUND. Look how easily Teraud, his wife, and the other workers in Teraud’s forge praise Ben. They all believe him. They have bought the narrative that he’s sold them, and it’s only a matter of time now before it all comes crashing down.

And when is that going to happen? Pierce doesn’t really let us get comfortable for too long. I mean, I admit to being started by the very mention of Ben’s name after a couple chapters focusing solely on the Bancanor twins. I was enjoying the story purely for the experience of reading about these characters! I was endlessly entertained by Daja’s journey with Nia and Jory! AND THEN I’M REMINDED YET AGAIN THAT BENNAT LADRADUN IS THE WORST.

THE

WORST.

And that’s what I mean by comfort. Daja spends her own time and energy measuring Bennat’s hand for the fire gloves that she’s going to attempt to make. It’s a genuinely sweet gesture! I can’t deny that. Yet it’s tainted, though that’s not Daja’s fault. I can’t blame her for not knowing someone else’s dark secret, you know? That doesn’t mean I don’t feel utterly hopeless reading all of her scenes with Ben. She has no idea that she’s setting herself up for one of the worst heartbreaks she’ll ever go through. Like, I want her to succeed with the living metal glove! So badly! But isn’t it going to be intricately tied with her memory of Ben? Isn’t she always going to associate the two of them?

Let’s just groan and scream about a few of these lines while we’re at it.

And Teraud was right, a little: it was odd that Ben had gotten entangled with the thing that had destroyed his early life.

UGH. UGH. This crushes me to pieces because Daja knows what this experience is like. She knows that Tris, Sandry, and Briar all plunged themselves into things they feared in order to do right by the world. So, it makes sense that she’d sympathize with Ben’s decision to fight fires. EXCEPT THAT HE’S A WALKING NIGHTMARE. Y’all, there’s no way I’m gonna believe any version of the past where Ben didn’t set the storehouse on fire.

“I could hardly believe it when it happened,” Ben remarked.

OH, NOW YOU’RE NOT EVEN TRYING TO BE COY ABOUT IT ANYMORE. YOU ARE OPENLY TEASING DAJA AND SHE HAS NO IDEA.

“Frankly, I didn’t care. I’ve been after Mother for years to pull that firetrap down. At least it gave my local firefighters a chance to use their training, after months of no fires at all.”

Why don’t you just say it? “I set this fire, and it thrills me to act is if I didn’t.”

Daja nodded, impressed. That was so like him to worry that, without chances to work, his people might not be ready for a true disaster. Only Ben would think that more important than the loss of a second-rate warehouse.

It’s entirely possible that Ben did train his people to fight fires better, and that’s a good thing. This does not and cannot negate his arson. IT CAN’T. Even if it’s his own warehouse! Mostly? This makes my heart hurt. Daja has projected so much imagined kindness and charity into this man’s heart, and it’s all because she’s being manipulated into doing so. It sucks so much, and I am not looking forward to her discovering the truth. It’s going to hurt.

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

Mark Links Stuff

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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