Mark Reads ‘Battle Magic’: Chapter 8

In the eighth chapter of Battle Magic, ROSETHORN KNOWS. SHE KNOWS. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Battle Magic. 

Trigger Warning: For discussion of homelessness.

I mean, I’m actually satisfied that Pierce addressed this so early because this is Rosethorn we’re talking about. Seriously, nothing gets by her. Nothing! How long did Briar and Evvy think they’d be able to lie to her face, day after day? Thus, I think it makes perfect sense that she figures out that Evvy and Briar had something to do with Parahan’s escape just by observing their behavior in the days that follow their joining with the Trader caravan.

And you know, I gotta agree with Evvy. I certainly expected the confrontation to be… what? More explosive? More awkward than it was? Thankfully, Pierce writes this chapter from Rosethorn’s perspective, and it allows us to see the full extent of what this moment means to her. Yes, Evvy and Briar did not get Rosethorn’s full wrath, but the woman is devastated by this development. Why? Because as idealistic and hopeful and beautiful as that act was, they just broke the law in a foreign country where LITERALLY ALL OF THEM AND ALL THEIR FRIENDS AND FAMILY WOULD BE MURDERED IF THEY WERE CAUGHT. But it goes further than that:

Rosethorn knew very well that these weren’t the reasons she hadn’t given them a long list of punishments and a royal scold. She had shown mercy because in two days she would have to tell them that she was sending them on to Hanjian without her.

She wants this last bit of time with them to be as free of conflict of possible. She feels guilty enough as it is! Unsurprisingly, though, Briar and Evvy are far more stubborn than she estimated. I expected both of them to put up a fight, to disagree with her, and to make every excuse imaginable in order to convince her to let them come along. Pierce is very clever about the outcome of this, though. The end of one section has Rosethorn definitively stating that this is her choice alone because she was the one who made vows to the Living Circle. We cut from that right to her negotiations with Rajoni and her mother, Nisha, since Rosethorn must make changes to her travel plans. A sensible thing to do, of course, and Rosethorn knows Trader customs quite well. But it’s in her explanation of the fate of Evvy’s cats that I realized she was phrasing things oddly:

“No, the cats will be coming with us.” In fact the battle over the cats had been almost as bad as the battle for Briar and Evvy to stay with Rosethorn. It was Evvy’s threat not to travel with them, but to follow them, with the cats, that had forced Rosethorn to agree.

OH. OH. SO SHE HAD LOST THE ARGUMENT. Briar and Evvy were coming with her!!! OOOOHHHHH MY GOD. Okay, so they don’t split up. Which is great! For other reasons that I’ll get to, but let’s switch gears for a second because I wanted to talk about that upsetting moment when the Traders realize why Rosethorn wants a map of Gyongxe and the Snow Serpent Pass. Rajoni and Nisha know exactly why Rosethorn wants them, and Rajoni herself just plainly asks her to confirm it. What’s so scary about this is that anyone in Yanjing could be susceptible to the vicious wrath of Emperor Weishu. That includes the Traders, and Rajoni relates the news that the imperial troops have already prevented a Trader caravan from moving about the country. How long until this caravan is taken? Can they escape Yanjing without arousing suspicion? I don’t even know if we’ll find out by the end of the book, given that the Emelan trio will be parting from them soon.

About that. Get ready for heartbreak:

Those two impossible young people would never hear that she was secretly glad they were coming with her. The only thing that had frightened her more than taking them into a land soon to be invaded was the thought of letting them travel back to Emelan without her.

I just love these characters so much, y’all. I love that Evvy absolutely refuses to abandon her cats because they never abandoned her in Chammur, no matter how difficult things got. But the thing that touched me the most was that in the midst of all this intense preparation to perfect disguises, Briar stops to offer coins and food to a beggar outside the gate of Kushi. One of the cooks drops a tired, annoying line about the homeless:

“You waste your money on the likes of that,” the cook said. “He’ll just spend those coins on wine.”

Briar shrugged. “If it makes him warm and happy for an hour or two, I’m not one to judge.”

I think it’s a good indication of a person to get them to talk about homeless people. It really is! I often use it as a gauge for how safe I feel around them and whether or not I should let them into my life. I don’t mean that just because I have been homeless a couple of times. I think that if you can still say cruel and insensitive shit about people who literally have nowhere to live, then you’re a pretty horrible person. And if this person is so concerned about the beggar drinking wine, why aren’t they helping out? Are they feeding them? Giving them discarded meals or scraps? No? Didn’t think so. I know those gestures don’t solve the reasons homelessness exist, and addiction within the homeless is a huge problem. But as someone who got to a point where I had to live off handouts and charity, trust me. It means a lot.

Mark Links Stuff

– I will be at numerous conventions in 2016! 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 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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