Mark Reads ‘Cold Fire’: Chapter 8

In the eighth chapter of Cold Fire, Daja learns the value of failure. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Circle Opens. 

I still don’t know where this book is headed, and that scares me. LET’S TALK ABOUT THINGS.


No surprise to anyone who’s been following this blog for a while now: I AM DAJA IN THE WINTER. I find so much joy in it, and I know that’s because I don’t live somewhere that has brutal, cold winters. (There is a small part of me relieved that my New York move is not happening because I’d have to suddenly cope with that. Some day, I’ll have to.) I admit that after touring the East coast back in February during the worst winter storm this country saw in ages, I got a little… tired? Though the context of it for me was different. I couldn’t just hide indoors and bundle up under a bunch of blankets; I was moving from one city to the next, often while a bit homesick and suffering from an impending bout of strep throat / head cold. And yet? The snow still excited me. I couldn’t resist crunching around in it. Even when I was in Ottawa on the day after it was COLDER THAN SIBERIA (!!!!) and my beard froze (!!!!!!! THE WEIRDEST FEELING EVER !!!!!!), I was still overjoyed by it all. It was so fun and new and weird, and YOU CAN’T TAKE THIS AWAY FROM ME.


I think Pierce wasn’t trying to surprise me with Daja’s decision here; she’d clearly planned that with the earlier meditation session. Daja simply was trying to delay the inevitable. She was always going to have to teach these two separately, despite that she did try her hardest to help them meditate at the same time. That’s a sign of a good and honest teacher. Daja knows when it’s worth it to invest her time and when her efforts will ultimately be a waste. Jory can’t sit still, and Nia has no interest in physical activity as meditation, and that’s simply the reality of their lives.

It’s unfortunate, then, that Nia truly believed that her desire for solitude was a sign of cowardice. HOW HEARTBREAKING WAS THAT MOMENT, Y’ALL??? Too much. Too much. I related to that moment a great deal because – and this may surprise you – I was perpetually shy as a child. I tell this to people, and it blows their mind. Any of you who have ever seen me do an event know that it’s kind of my element. That’s a recent thing, something I’ve only been able to do in the last decade of my life. I grew up frightened of the world because of the bubble that my mother kept me in. So I didn’t stand up for myself. I was not the confrontational loudmouth that I currently am. That was something I had to grow into, and even then? I still have a lot of social anxiety I’ve been dealing with.

I appreciate Daja so much in this scene because she reminds Nia that cowardice is not the opposite of being tough and violent. Nia simply doesn’t know what she’s brave at:

“The bravest person I know is afraid of the dark. She sleeps with a night lamp always, but if her friends are threatened? She suddenly thinks she’s a bear twelve feet tall and attacks whoever scared her friends. There are all kinds of courage. You’ll find yours.”

Don’t mind me, just being very emotional about all of this.


I expected a setback at some point in this novel, but I did not expect it to be the living metal gloves for Ben. I had thought that she’d more or less figured out the kinks of this process and with dedication and attention to detail, she’d actually pull it off. But while Daja is busy acting as the teacher to the twins, she must also learn an important lesson about humility and pride, one that had never really been applicable for her before. I’ve never really seen her as a prideful character, and she’s often seemed fairly grounded to me. But in her excitement to create these fireproof gloves, she got ahead of herself.

It happens! It’s happened to me for this site and Mark Watches quite a few times over the years. I’ve overextended myself more times than I can count. Remember Mark Plays? Or bonus commissions? It’s natural for me to test my limits in a lot of different arenas; I’m actually a pretty competitive person. But it takes a lot of energy to admit you’ve messed up or gone to far or overestimated your abilities. Trust me, I know this quite well.

I just adore that Pierce is making sure that Daja gets her own growth and her own story within the larger work, you know? I want her to grow and change alongside the twins, too. And learning how to take failure? That’s something everyone needs to learn.

The original text contains use of the words “mad” and “insane.”

Mark Links Stuff

Please help book/finalize the Mark Does Stuff European Tour!
– 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.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be the remainder of The Legend of Korra, series 8 of Doctor Who, and Kings. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
- Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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