Mark Reads ‘Shatterglass’: Chapter 5

In the fifth chapter of Shatterglass, Keth is interrogated about his newfound ability. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Circle Opens.

The Interrogation

Goddamn, Tris is amazing.

I think that Pierce does a fine job explaining the circumstances that would lead Dema to think that torturing Keth for information was a sound idea to him. We’ve gotten enough of his POV to understand how frustrated he is, how much he’s been working against, and what sort of challenges he has as the lead investigator. We also know that he’s not necessarily a prodigy either (made clear by his mistake in using the sigils that Keth burns up), so Pierce avoids the often-used trope of “brilliant” investigators using less-than-ideal means to get what they want.

Instead, what we get is Keth’s desperation clashing with Tris’s protective sensibility. It’s an unreal thing to watch because just hours earlier, she had no real attachment to this man other than a lowkey interest in his magic. And now? She immediately moves in to protect Keth and to criticize Dema for how he’s acted. I loved that she called him out for the disrespectful way he had shown the most recent victim to Keth, and I loved that she is so stubborn here. It’s fascinating to read beyond the fact that she’s a bad ass because Pierce channels Tris’s obstinate behavior into something that’s incredibly positive. It feels like this is exactly something that Tris would do, you know?

“I’m not saying you can’t question him, I’m just saying you can’t torture him. If you try, I promise you, I will bring this place down around your ears.”

Isn’t the the Tris we know and love? Isn’t loyalty one of her defining features? She’s loyal to Keth, despite only truly meeting him in good faith JUST HOURS BEFORE. But she’s also loyal to the ideals that she agreed to uphold as a mage, and I think that is beautifully significant, too. She knows that she’s got a duty as a teacher to protect her student and guide them correctly, and she’s knows that torture will be a terrible thing to enact.

I’m certain that Tris’s dedication is one of the things that eventually wins Dema over to their side. Through the interrogation, he comes to believe that Keth is truly innocent, but after seeing Keth and Tris’s odd manifestations of magic, I believe he’s more willing to consider that some strange force produced the prophetic glass bulb. Do I personally understand the magic? No, not at all. I don’t get how Keth was able to predict the (recent) future, nor do I comprehend why it’s a lightning thing either. But I agree with Dema: it seems to be the only way for anyone to get closer to the Ghost and learn who is killing so many yaskedasu.


I don’t imagine that Keth will stay with Jumshida permanently, and I suspect he’ll want to go back to his own lodgings. Like many of the cultures we’ve seen throughout the Emelan books, class matters a great deal, and Jumshida is more or less disgusted by the way Keth lives and where he lives. She does offer up lodgings in her own home to him, at least for the night, but the charity is somewhat tainted by her utter distaste for the yaskedasi. I suppose “dislike” is a tame word, because she’s openly hostile and disgusted by them, as are many characters used to the separation between different groups within Tharios.

I think that sense of separation plays a part in other thematic elements in Shatterglass, too. Is there not a chasm between Keth and Tris, one based on experience and age? What about between prathmun and the “clean” citizenry? Life and death? Yaskedasi and those who buy their services? There’s a divide throughout many aspects of this novel. Later, when Yali shows up at Jumshida’s residence to find Keth, she’s treated abysmally by the cook. Tris, further proving what an incredible person she’s growing into, tries to level the playing field, only to be told by Yali that this is just how it is. It’s a cynical, grim look at social dynamics within Tharios, but Tris is quickly realizing that Yali is not exaggerating. This is really what it’s like to be prathmun or yaskedasi within this culture.


LIKE WHAT THE FUCK, TRIS CREATED AN ELEVATOR DISC OUT OF AIR AND USED IT TO ASCEND OVER TWELVE-HUNDRED-STEPS’ WORTH OF STAIRS INSTEAD OF WALKING UP THEM. Like??? How you gonna drop some shit like this into a book and expect me to be fine? How do you expect me to ever go up a set of stairs again when I know that someone else ascended up a high tower by using an elevator disc made of air?

Life will never be the same again.

While I think part of the reason the Phakomathen scene exists is to merely show us how powerful Tris has gotten, I think there’s a more vital reason it exists. We need to see that Tris is ready to help Keth face his fear of lightning once and for all. I’m guessing that eventual scene will be awful and anxiety-inducing because it’s not at all easy to face a phobia, you know? But Tris is right; as uncomfortable as it will be, Keth must get beyond his fear of lightning or he’ll forever be unable to be the kind of mage he might be. He’ll be stagnant in his role if he doesn’t get beyond this. But how the hell is Tris going to do that?

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

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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