In the fifteenth chapter of Melting Stones, EVERYTHING IS A MESS. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Melting Stones.
When Oswin and I returned to the courtyard at the inn, we found a mess.
UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE ENTIRE BOOK. But look, this isn’t a mess just for the sake of it, and the “arguments” that people have in this chapter is all due to the oncoming force that may wipe them out. I don’t think anyone here is being unreasonable, at least in the sense that they’re all stressed, especially those native to Starns. They’re being uprooted from their homes, forced to leave most of their belongings behind, and venture into the unknown. No one knows if the Battle Islands will survive the volcanic eruption, so nerves are all the place.
Yet it’s the opening scene that I found the most illuminating. Pierce doesn’t let us forget that many of the inhabitants of this island either were or currently are pirates. At the same time, Dubyine and Karove are not necessarily irrational here, either. To them, the situation is obvious: these outsiders have shooed off all the rich people of the island, and now they’re going to remain behind and loot everything. It’s a very specific mindset at work, and it makes sense that these people would believe this narrative. With that context, I understand why no one wants to believe Myrhhtide or Rosethorn. Of course, we know they’re absolutely wrong, but that’s not the point, is it? To people not in the know, the only word they’ve got to go on is from strangers who are basically spouting a fairy tale to everyone.
So what do you do with people like this, who are convinced of their own version of the truth? There’s really nothing that you can do, aside from forcing them to evacuate. And hell, no one has the time or energy for that. I think that’s important to point out because I believe it’s one of the main reasons why everyone is so quick to snap at one another. In the grand scheme of things, Evvy’s argument with Treak is pointless. Treak will never believe that rocks are interesting or meaningful, and it’s no use trying to change his perception of that. But everyone is irritable and tired at this point in the book, so Evvy takes the bait. (And for what it’s worth, Evvy has never really avoided taking the bait anyway. She loves a good fight.) She tries to convince Treak of the value of rocks, and then Treak goes and does something foolish and then EVERYONE IS YELLING. MAMA ROSETHORN, WHY IS EVERYONE YELLING.
Because this situation is awful. I am so endlessly full of anxiety from it! I still don’t know how the hell there are five more chapters, I don’t know if these characters are going to make it off the island before the eruption, and I don’t know how destructive said eruption will be. Everything that Pierce puts into this chapter is telling me to expect the worst, though. There’s the massive earthquake in the early morning that not only wakes everyone up, but gets them to all start packing to leave IMMEDIATELY. THAT’S A GOOD NEXT STEP. You know why?
I still don’t know what any of these people can do. At best, Evvy and Luvo’s plan to create an granite-backed shield of obsidian is a stopgap and nothing more. They cannot stop Carnelian and Flare from breaking free, and they cannot stop the eruption from happening. They just can’t! Even worse, it’s pretty much 99.99999% certain that their actions made everything a billion times more terrible than it would have been had they done nothing at all. Which is so tragic to think about! Both of them tried to do something to save everyone, and while they may have bought more time for Starns, there’s a high chance that the island itself may not survive. So what were they supposed to do? Let people die, but save an island for people to return to? Or spare everyone’s life, but guarantee that their home will be obliterated forever?
TOUGH CHOICES. I sympathize with both of these characters because their hearts were in the right place. I just hope this ending isn’t as tragic as it seems it will be.
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