Mark Reads ‘The Will of the Empress’- Chapter 18

In the eighteenth chapter of The Will of the Empress, EVERYTHING HAPPENS. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Will of the Empress.

Trigger Warning: For misogyny, nonconsensual drugging.

OH GOD, THESE LAST TWO CHAPTERS ARE GOING TO BE LIFE-RUINING. This is just nothing but dread: dread for what Berenene is going to do, dread over Shan’s plan to kidnap Sandry, dread over the group ignoring Zhegorz’s warnings, DREAD OVER THAT ENDING, and you get the point. This whole book has been leading up to this confrontation anyway, and now that it’s coming to fruition, my body feels like it’s going to explode.

Let’s do this.

Pershan fer Roth

Y’all, there was time when Shan was a legitimate love interest for Sandry. DO YOU REMEMBER THOSE DAYS, MY FRIENDS? Because now we’re at a point where Shan is so furious over Sandry’s rejection that he’s plotting to kidnap her. That’s how this chapter opens, and it would be an absurd and ridiculous plot if it didn’t make so much sense. There’s a line later on in this chapter where Shan reveals that he had always planned to steal Sandry, and I don’t think that’s out of character. Like Ealaga said prior to this, this is the culture these people live in, and it doesn’t matter that Shan was once nice and kind to Sandry. Her rejection of him unleashed what was always there within him. (Which is not to blame her, of course. Shan’s violent misogyny is his and his alone.)

Like Fin, though, Shan is certain he’s figured out what his empress wants, and just like him again, HE IS UTTERLY WRONG. That’s not surprising, of course, because all the men in Berenene’s life seem destined to misinterpreting everything about her. Shan expects to exploit the empress’s practicality, hoping that keeping him as Sandry’s husband will be the less expensive option rather than fighting Sandry in Emelan.

Oh, how wrong he is.

The Will of the Empress

This chapter is so damn good largely because Pierce switches so frequently between the various players in the story. I loved that we got a huge section where Shan strutted about confidently, insulting the foster-siblings powers, trying to goad Quen into a fight, and assuring the mage that Berenene will eventually come to his side. And I loved that immediately after that, we switch over to Isha and find out that Shan is 100% wrong. As Tris will later confirm, everyone seems to forget that one of the worst things you can do to a ruler is disrespect them. That’s Shan’s flaw, and it’s going to come back to bite him in the ass. Actually, he underestimates the foster-siblings, too. And he’s a misogynist. OKAY, SHAN HAS A LOT OF FLAWS. And Empress Berenene is going to destroy him.


Can we just take a moment to acknowledge that just a couple weeks after experiencing the most painful experience imaginable, Tris packs her shit to chase after her foster-siblings? The worst I’ve done is crack a bone, and it was so debilitatingly painful that I couldn’t move for days. (Well, after the half Valium I took wore off.) (Actually, that’s a fun story that I really need to tell, because it both exposes how absurdly racist doctors are and how stubborn I can be. I cracked my sternum on the eve of a 120-mile bike ride AND USED THE PAINLESS STATE OF EUPHORIA FROM THE VALIUM TO GO ON THE RIDE ANYWAY. I’m a mess.) Tris broke practically every goddamn bone in her body, and she doesn’t give a shit. Her friends’ well-being is more important to her than anything else, and my heart swells with respect and adoration for her.

She’s also well aware of the risk she’s taking. She’s not recklessly barging into a disaster without any preparation. At the same time, she also knows she’s not at her best. She handles the two mages who were meant to stop her from leaving fairly easily, but how much power will she have when she needs it? Will she be able to reach out to her friends? Granted, I already know that she wasn’t able to warn them, but how will she help in the next chapter? How will Ambros help??? That’s probably the biggest shocker here, which isn’t to suggest that Ambros wouldn’t do something like this. It’s just that I didn’t anticipate it. I’m glad Tris has help, but I also help he turns out okay. Wouldn’t Sandry’s whole plan to leave Namorn fall apart if something happened to Ambros?

Ugh, let’s not think about that.


There’s a rather pervasive trope in fiction where the mentally ill are prophetic and ignored. Often times, they serve no other purpose. While I wouldn’t claim that Pierce has created perfect representation with this character – I think plenty of folks in the comments have pointed out the flaws in Zhegorz’s characterization and the way he’s treated – I do appreciate that the other characters face a real consequence for not listening to Zhegorz. They are remarkably dismissive of him, and I imagine that if Tris had been with them, that would not have been the case. Sure, Briar is more patient with Zhegorz than everyone else, but even he gets frustrated with the man’s constant warnings.

EXCEPT HIS WARNINGS WERE RIGHT AND YOU WERE ALL WRONG AND EVERYTHING IS AWFUL. I kept wondering how Quen would develop a way to stop these mages, and his solution is pretty damn horrifying. He more or less used magic to drug them into a sleep they wouldn’t wake up from for a long enough time that the kidnapping would be as easy as humanly possible. But he misjudged them, as everyone seems to do, because Briar already had to deal with sleeping spells in Gyongxe. (Gods, I love how Briar’s backstory there plays such a huge part in this book.) He’s the only one able to break out of the spell and wake the others. But what’s next? Chase down Quen and Shan? They also have no idea that Berenene and Ishabel are heading to those same men, as are Tris and Ambros, and EVERYONE IS GOING TO CONVERGE IN ONE SPOT, AREN’T THEY? Oh my god, GIVE ME THE NEXT CHAPTER NOW.

The original text contains use of the word “madness.”

Mark Links Stuff

– I will be at Borderlands Books, Book Riot Live, and Windycon this 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 Kings, season 1 of Sense8, season 1 of Agent Carter, seasons 1 & 2 of The 100, Death Note, and Neon Genesis Evangelion. 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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