In the eighth chapter of Shatterglass, Keth learns his limitations while Tris explores Khapik more. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Shatterglass.
This is a transitional chapter more than anything else, and I feel like some of the headway made here is setting up future plot lines more than anything else. But goddamn, it’s all so fascinating! LET’S DISCUSS.
You know, I’d forgotten that Keth wasn’t born in Tharios, so I was initially a bit shocked that he was just as openly critical of the All-Seeing God as Tris was. But that’s something I need to keep in mind because it’s part of Keth’s characterization as an outsider. His ambient magic, his disability, and his origins all set him apart from those around him. However, I think that difference is what’s helping him to grow closer to Tris throughout this journey. He may want to fight it at every turn, but he’s more willing to be honest with her than he was before. He still picks little arguments with Tris, and he’s not entirely on board with her, but I got a sense for his implicit acceptance that she was his teacher. Even if he’s clashing with her, I never felt like he outright disrespected her or rejected her. He accepts that she’s teaching him, even if he doesn’t necessarily enjoy the lessons.
I say that because his lesson with Tris in this chapter mostly leaves his irritated, despite that it was a very necessary thing for him to learn. You can already see how he’s viewing his magic as some sort of catch-all solution to his problems when that’s not at all the case. All mages, no matter how powerful, have limitations, and Keth must learn that. Here, he once again has to experience the finite amount of power he has. He is not a bottomless well of power, and the exhaustion that comes from its expiration is a lesson the foster siblings had to learn, too.
Part of Keth’s challenge, though, comes in his age. Tris is a more flexible person because she’s not nearly as set in her ways as he is. I realize that’s slightly ironic to say because Tris is probably the most stubborn character in the series. Well, she used to be, that is. I don’t know that that’s the case anymore, and that’s been a really satisfying thing to see her develop. Look how much more patient she is with Keth in this chapter alone!
So I love that she takes the time to get to know Keth’s friends while understanding that she’s an outsider. I feel like the Tris of four years ago would have been far more combative towards Xantha and Poppy and their insults, but here, she gets that she’s new and she’s a foreigner to these people. Instead, she just charms them. She’s friendly with Yali and Glaki, and thankfully, Little Bear and Chime help Yali accept Tris as a genuinely good person who’s looking out for Keth. SERIOUSLY, pets work wonders, y’all. But I don’t want to discount Tris’s contribution here, and I think she deserves a lot of praise for helping Yali comprehend how Keth’s magic works. It humanizes him, plain and simple. Which is not to say that Yali viewed him poorly, but I think it’s pretty monumental that Tris takes the time to explain Keth’s complicated ambient magic so that his best friend can understand him better.
But there’s a few things here that suggest future plots. I felt TERRIBLE THINGS when Keth warned Yali to be careful. DON’T. DON’T YOU DO IT, TAMORA PIERCE. And then we’ve got Keth outright refusing to deal with his fear of lightning. Like, there’s just no chance here since he basically runs away from Tris while repeating the word, “NO.” Oh, Keth, you’ll have to cope with it sooner or later! So how will Tris convince him to? How do you overcome that kind of hurdle?
The original text contains use of the word “madness.”
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