Mark Reads ‘Shatterglass’: Chapter 4

In the fourth chapter of Shatterglass, Kethlun and Tris get to know one another. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Circle Opens.

Gods, this is so satisfying to read. I appreciate that this part is happening so early because Keth and Tris did not exactly get off to a good start with one another. Their relationship has been marked by misunderstanding thus far, and the easiest way to break that is by geting to know one another. With Jumshida and Niko by her side, Tris opens up about her experience as a mage, all of which helps Kethlun understand what he might be up against in the future.

The most important aspect of that is the difficulty that Keth will face because of how his ambient magic has chose to manifest. Like Tris, his is compounded by lightning, which of course makes her a perfect teacher for him, at least initially. On top of that, Keth has to accept that someone who is years younger than him is going to be his teacher. I feel like this initial part of the conversation was Niko’s way of making sure that Keth knew why Tris was such a unique case. Now, I don’t think there’s that much revealed here that the reader didn’t know. I did appreciate the insight given to the process of making Tris and her foster siblings mages, but I feel like this is information we’ve gleaned from the past three books in this quartet. Well, the whole “storing power in her braids” thing felt new to me. (Was it? I don’t remember Tris talking about it in the Circle of Magic books.)

But I think that the point of Tris’s backstory here wasn’t really for us. It was for Keth. Keth needed to know how Tris’s power manifested; he needed to know a basic history for her so that he had context for her actions; he needed to know why she was made a mage at 14 years of age when that was such a rare thing. This all led to an important realization for him, one I think will come to define the sort of relationship Keth has with Tris:

Kethlun, steeped in depression, said gloomily, “Splendid. She’s a freak, and I’m a freak. We should be quite happy together.”

CAN YOU? CAN YOU? In a section just prior to this one, Tris reflected on the challenges she faced as a complicated mage, and it was the prefect segue to this because TRIS COMPLETELY UNDERSTANDS KETH. It takes a moment for that sympathy to reach her, but she does understand some aspect of this struggle:

Lately she’d begun to think that her greatest flaw was her imagination. Listening to him, imagining herself in his place, she could see how it might have been easier if the lightning had killed him. Instead he was newly born, forced to grow up in weeks, not years, with all his thoughts as a man still in his head. He’d already mentioned the long struggle to make his body and his tongue work. Would she have the patience and determination it must have taken to do that for long, weary months, not knowing if she would succeed?

Look, take out that part about his thoughts, and haven’t you described Tris? Did she not also have her magical ability sprung upon her? Did she not face a terrifying ordeal with her foster siblings that forced her to grow up quickly? There’s a lot of similarity between these two, and my hope is that they’ll be able to recognize that instead of fighting with one another. And I honestly do think we get a glimpse of that in this chapter as Keth and Tris put their guard down and talk openly about their lives. I believe it’s significant that Tris admits how her parents treated her while talking to Keth, just as I think it’s important that Tris discovers the beautiful lightning pattern of magic over his body. These are intimate moments that will help build a relationship between the two of them.

Unfortunately, they’re sidetracked by the arrival of the arurim, who come to arrest Keth for the murder of one of the yaskedasi. Which I understood, given the absolute impossibility of the tableau inside that glass globe. But holy shit, let’s talk about Tris’s transformation into Sandry here, because I LOVE EVERY SECOND OF IT. That’s not to suggest that her defense of herself and Keth is something she’s not capable of. Tris has long been a confrontational character. But I love that she uses her status to protect someone else as she does here. I can’t even imagine what this experience would have been like if Keth had been forced to go to the [APOLOGIES FOR THIS SENTENCE CUTTING  OUT RIGHT HERE. I must have imagined completing the sentence. I cannot for the life of me remember what I actually wanted to write here. SORRY!!!)

I’m also very pleased with the brilliance of the punchline set up by Pierce between Keth and Tris:

“Just for curiosity’s sake, how long have you been student and teacher?” Dema asked. The circle of arurimi broke free of the crowd and marched toward Elya Street, dodging pleasure seekers on their way to Khapik.

Keth and Tris looked at each other and shrugged. “Two hours?” asked Keth.

“Something like that,” Tris replied.


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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