Mark Reads ‘The Will of the Empress’: Chapter 2

In the second chapter of The Will of the Empress, EVERYTHING GOT SO MUCH WORSE. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Will of the Empress.

Trigger Warning: For discussion of PTSD/trauma, death.


I actually still feel like anxiety is coursing through me right now. It’s like I got thrown off a building and managed to save myself right before I hit the bottom. My whole sense of emotional balance is off! What has this book done to me, y’all???

I imagine that this was horribly difficult to write. Some of these insults are so mean, so cutting, and so brutal that all I could was flinch or bury my face in my hands. These four teenagers are utterly unable to get along, and even saying that feels like a misrepresentation of this situation. It’s not just that they can’t get along; they simply don’t understand one another anymore. Sandry can’t understand why anyone would want to hide their thoughts from her. No one except for Briar comprehends Tris’s behavior at the end of the chapter. And prior to that, they all treat Tris poorly, unaware of the horrible experience she is having because of her new scrying power.

It’s just a trainwreck, a mess of emotions and misconceptions and irascibility from everyone. When your bickering is so bad that you’ve developed a reputation for it in merely three weeks, then perhaps things are bad. PERHAPS. But these characters aren’t thinking in these terms. They’re all so caught up in their own worlds that they can’t step into each other’s shoes and empathize with what someone else is going through. Not all the time, of course, since Briar and Daja tend to be more understanding than the other two. But still! This was just so uncomfortable to read, you know?

I’m also glad that we’ve got a well-defined focus for this novel so early on. It’s exciting! I want to see more of Namorn, first of all, and I love the idea of Sandry sparring with the nobility that she was born into, and I was very thrilled that all three of her foster siblings agreed so quickly to Duke Vedris’s request to accompany Sandry to Namorn. Like, I was touched by Briar’s words! I expected them to argue a bit because look, y’all. I don’t know if you know this, but roadtrips (and traveling in general) is the easiest way to unravel any friendship. Doesn’t matter how long you’ve known someone or how close you are to them: go on a trip together. Start small. Get used to being with them 24/7 in a place where you can’t escape to privacy. Get used to snoring, their toiletries, the way they brush their teeth, their sleep routines, everything. Because it is a testament to any friendship to travel together! So I expected some conflict between them. It’s natural!

I didn’t expect constant verbal warfare. I didn’t, and I wasn’t ready for it. As I said early, there’s a ton of misunderstanding going on here, but I do get why it’s happening. Like the poor reaction Tris got to Vedris outing her plans to go to Lightsbridge, Daja and Briar react badly to Tris’s sleeping patterns. They make no attempt to find out why she must constantly adjust where she’s sleeping, and you know what? I don’t blame Tris for not telling them. When people don’t approach you with sympathy or kindness, it doesn’t make you want to return it. And in this case, these people are supposed to have your back!

So when Tris sees the dam for the Erynwhit River burst, she doesn’t try to do the formal or polite thing. She just tries to save everyone’s life. Now, I think that Tris does need to have a conversation about what’s the most efficient and least dangerous method of alerting people of an impending disaster. I think Pierce does a fine job portraying these characters as flawed as much as they’re heroic and courageous. Tris should reflect on her actions at some point, especially how she spoke to that mimander. The time for that is not immediately after a harrowing and traumatic near-miss. It’s really not! Both Daja and Sandry have incredibly poor timing here when they confront Tris over what she’s done. Like, I get why they’re pissed, but I gotta side with Tris here. She did what she thought she had to do in order to save lives, and she should have been able to depend on her foster siblings to have her back throughout the ordeal.

Yes, this would have been easier had the four of them remained open to one another, but that is no longer a simple solution for these teenagers. It’s not! I agree that some aspects would be easier, but this is not how the world works for them anymore. They aren’t kids anymore. They’ve got to learn to live with one another as adults, and that’s an even more difficult thing to accomplish. And on top of all this? We’ve not even begun to deal with Briar’s PTSD, which seems to be getting worse and worse.

Wow, everything still hurts.

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

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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