Mark Reads ‘The Will of the Empress’: Chapter 10

In the tenth chapter of The Will of the Empress, Sandry is challenged in multiple ways. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Will of the Empress.

Trigger Warning: For kidnapping, consent, rape.

I’m halfway through this book, and I don’t know where it’s headed, and I’m scared.


You know, I think Tris might find that her magic would be better received if she’d just tell people about it. I don’t think she’ll ever get to a point where people aren’t unnerved by her power and what she can do; that’s just part of who she is now. So I don’t think that this is a solution to everything. But one of the reasons the people of Pofkim village reacted as they did here was because they had no idea what was going on. Like, couldn’t Tris have gone over to Sandry or Ambros and quietly informed them that she’d be doing work on the banks of the river and that things might get weird? Instead, half a day later, Sandry has to wake her from her meditation and she’s covered in mud and everyone is creeped out by the HOURS of trembling earth.

SO… maybe a heads up is in order? Maybe?


Well, now I’m worried that the horrific custom of “marriage-by-kidnapping” is going to be something I have to keep in mind throughout the rest of this book. Again, I don’t quite have a grasp on where The Will of the Empress is heading. Is the main conflict Berenene? Sandry going home? Sandry being kidnapped? I mean, that’s a legitimate concern now!!! Look what happens here, y’all. It’s so horrifying and absurd and it made me angry. Well, I should also state that it was a quiet horror because I was mostly ecstatic about Sandry literally dressing down these creeps. It was so beautiful! I can’t imagine a better way to embarrass them out of the way. No blood was shed, and everyone got away safely. But the very idea that this is a custom that is accepted by people in Namorn is almost as disturbing as the practice itself:

“The one of runaway marriages,” he said reluctantly at last. “No magistrate will penalize a man who kidnaps an unmarried woman for the purposes of marriage. Or if they do, it’s a fine, and one so tiny that it’s insulting. The only exception is if someone is killed during the kidnapping. Then the man must die.”

Oh, okay, so then the crime is actually punishable! Not when you kidnap someone and then force them into a marriage and spend years raping them. Because seriously, marriage does not imply consent at all, and no amount of blabbering about tradition and custom will undo that. It’s upsetting to know that this exists, and it’s even more upsetting to know that when Sandry calls the act “barbaric,” the guards bristle. Shit, do they not find it to be a monstrous act? Who else supports this??? THIS IS SO MESSED UP.


Okay, look, I’m very sad for Sandry and her emotional turmoil. I AM. I am also REALLY FUCKING HAPPY that Briar, Tris, and Daja sit around and don’t argue for an entire scene as they discuss what it must be like for Sandry to go through this experience. It’s an act of deliberate empathy. Instead of writing it all off as a noble thing and acting disinterested with her, these people – Rizu included! – unravel the complicated emotions and duties that Sandry has before her. God, even Tris gets in on it, offering up her opinion on why Sandry might feel too prideful to hand over the estates to Ambros.


Wait, hold on a second.


I have to do this.

Rizu threw her head back to laugh. The light gilded the line from her chin down to her bosom. Daja looked at that gilding, and away, feeling heat rise in her cheeks.

This will actually destroy me. Nothing else in this series or in any of Tamora Pierce’s books will ruin me quite like this.

Back to Sandry

It really is odd to see people like Jak and Fin trying to wait hand-and-foot on Sandry because… well, we know she doesn’t need it. She’s not that kind of noble. But they both come from a completely different world, one where you can actually say shit like this without being laughed at:

“And you shouldn’t have to defend yourself!” he protested. “You are a gentle creature who must not be touched by sordidness like that!”

Sir, do you know what Sandry has been through? Do you know how much sordidness has touched her? Someone get this guy a copy of Magic Steps, I swear.

I jest, though. The truth is that these men are trying their best under the rules they believe they’re to live by. It’s offensive to Sandry to be treated this way, especially since she’s grown accustomed to a much more free way of living. So how is she going to cope with men like Jak and Fin vying for her attention in increasingly irritating ways? They’re not trying to upset her, but that’s the affect they’re having on her. Jak is convinced that marriage will give Sandry freedom and happiness, but Sandry knows it’ll be an invisible cage for her. She is not someone to be wooed and owned, and it’s becoming more and more clear that this reality is at odds with the world of Namorn.

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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