Mark Reads ‘Shatterglass’: Chapter 11

In the eleventh chapter of Shatterglass, actual good things happen. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Circle Opens.

Trigger Warning: For discussion of grief, murder, torture.

Okay, I’m being a facetious, since plenty of nice things have happened in Shatterglass. BUT SERIOUSLY, THIS IS SUCH A ROUGH EXPERIENCE.

Tharian Culture

I picked up on the inherent hypocrisy present within Dema, and I blame that mostly on the fact that he’s been raised in a culture that’s inherently contradictory. It’s only now that he’s starting to realize this, but he hasn’t gotten to a point where he’s ready to admit how much he’s participated in this oppressive system. At the opening of chapter eleven, he easily recognizes how horribly fucked up it is that the Keepers won’t do anything to stop the Ghost:

How can they not care?” he burst out, looking from Keth to Tris. “Women are dying! Why won’t they do whatever is necessary to save them?”

I mean, WE ALL KNOW THE ANSWER TO THIS. Dema knows the answer to this! The culture he belongs to devalues certain people, and it’s no coincidence that they are all in the lower classes. I imagine that over the years, this has become part of the design. Why else would the Keepers be so interested in maintaining the status quo? Do they honestly believe that there is a pollution in death? Actually, that’s not even how I want to approach this because I bet there are plenty of folks who believe this in Tharios. The problem is in the execution of that belief. Who is pure? Impure? Who is protected? Unsafe? Why does this dichotomy so perfectly split Tharian society?

It was telling to me, then, that Dema did even realizing he was upholding this same nonsense through his own actions. Later in the chapter, Tris inquires as to whether or not Dema had ever questioned any of the prathmuni about the murders. When she realizes that Dema has tortured ever prathmun he’s spoken to, she seethes with anger.

“That’s how we handle prathmuni,” replied Dema. “Everyone knows a prathmun lies as easily as he breathes. Since the arurim prathmuni bring them in anyway, it’s easiest to go right to it. If you were Tharian, you wouldn’t even ask about this.”

“So you get the torture out of the way, whether there is reason to suspect the prathmuni you arrest or not,” Tris said angrily.

“That’s how things are done here,” replied Dema. “Our ways aren’t yours.”

Isn’t he trying to change the way “things” are done in Tharios? Isn’t that his exact complaint for the Keepers? It’s uncomfortable for the man to talk about this because he knows Tris is right and he doesn’t want to confront his own complicity in the system that upholds the exploitation of the lower class.

He’s gonna have to confront it soon.

Glaki / Tris

I mistakenly didn’t address the surprise reveal in the last review, so let’s talk about Glaki. WHO IS AN ACADEMIC MAGE! Oh my god, remember when I wrote about how Pierce kept this quartet interesting by giving a different dynamic to each foster sibling in terms of their teacher/student relationships? Well, I had no idea that Pierce had another card up her sleeve, which was Tris finding another student while helping her current student. It’s an added stress for Tris, but she responds wonderfully to the stress, testing Glaki a second time for her academic magic and fostering a sense of love and care during such a confusing and traumatic time. That might be my favorite part of all of this: Tris becoming a nice person. Oh, she’ll turn “beet red” and shy away from the claim, but come on. This is total evidence of Keth’s theory:

Glaki would not be pushed from household to household as Tris had been. She would have a proper home and all the things a child needed to hold her head up in the world. Tris would take her to Lark, Rosethorn, and Discipline Cottage when she and Niko returned to Emelan. Glaki would become part of the house that was rooted there.

She would not leave Glaki to scrabble for a living in Tharios.

Bless your heart, Trisana Chandler. I adore you so much. She is so good at this role, being a mother and a teacher and a friend and a scholar and I CAN’T EVEN LIST ALL THE THINGS SHE ACTS AS IN THIS ONE NOVEL ALONE. Wow. Wow.


I know that this has been a bleak and cynical book at times, but I do appreciate that it isn’t actually the most negative experience imaginable. It’s not tragedy for the sake of it, and while a lot of this is painful to experience, I love that there’s growth and community in Khapik. These people are used to things not going their way, and I got the sense for the desperate love they have for one another in the final scenes of this chapter. Antonou does stem to benefit from Keth’s success, but I don’t think it’s an exploitative thing at all, given that he wants Keth to have most of the money made from his magical globes. To me, I see Antonou as a supportive role model for Keth, someone who can manage the business side of things and provide Keth with the means and structure to give him a better life. Plus, Antonou has been uncritically supporting Keth this whole time, too, especially when things weren’t fruitful at all.

As someone who has spent most of their life living in poorer, lower class neighborhoods, it’s really touching to see Pierce portray the people of Khapik in such a positive light. The impromptu jam session here at the close of chapter eleven is a chance for us to see these artists and musicians enjoying their craft free from the stress and limits of the life they normally experience. It’s also just good worldbuilding all on its own, you know? This is what Khapik is probably most like when it’s not being terrorized by the Ghost.

The original text contains use of the word “madman.”

Mark Links Stuff

– The Mark Does Stuff Tour 2015 is now live and includes dates across the U.S. this summer and fall 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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