Mark Reads ‘Melting Stones’: Chapter 22

In the twenty-second and final chapter of Melting Stones, HELP. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to finish Melting Stones. 

Well, goddamn, that was a journey. And I really think that’s the proper word for this novel. It’s a spiritual trip of sorts for Evvy, and it’s clear now that this whole story was meant to focus on her growth as a mage and as a human. AND IT’S SO SATISFYING. Look, y’all know that I love character development more than anything else in fiction, and it’s so incredible to me that Evvy was able to use this experience for self-reflection.

Which is not an easy thing for anyone to do. What Evvy thinks about during her long, solitary trek to Moharrin is deeply, deeply uncomfortable. From the moment she’s taken back to Starns until she gets there, five and a half days pass. During this entire time, she sees no one. She comes across no one. She merely tries to survive, avoid the ash that’s falling everywhere, and then seek out Meryem, Jayat, and Nory. It was imperative that she do so because she knew that these people were still on Starns due to her.

I couldn’t wait any longer. I needed to find my friends, if they were alive. They had to be alive. After everything – melting, the sea’s meanness, fighting with young volcanoes… Meryem, Nory, and Jayat had to be here. They had to be breathing and walking around. I didn’t know how I could bear it if, after everything, I found their bodies on the way to Moharrin.

It was SO STRESSFUL to read this because you know what? Tamora Pierce would totally kill someone off in the end because this is what she does to me. On top of that, this is a LITERAL APOCALYPTIC NIGHTMARE LANDSCAPE. Evvy could die FROM THE ACTUAL ENVIRONMENT. Again, ash: everywhere. Water? Most of it is acidic and undrinkable. It’s horrifying, and Evvy even confirms it as such:

It was like a journey through the hell of those who defy the Yanjing will of heaven. I thought I’d stopped believing in those hells, but they hadn’t stopped believing in me. They had followed me all the way here.

It’s interesting that Evvy frames it this way because of how she associates these disasters that are due to other disasters on herself. Granted, it is true that Meryem and the others is due to her actions. But the volcano? The Yanjing will of heaven? Those are not things than can “follow” a person, and yet she ascribes them to herself openly and willingly. Why does she do that? I see that as a method that Evvy uses to deal with the way that the deck is stacked against her in society. I say that because I often felt the same way about my own life, believing that terrible things followed me around as if I was cursed.

I appreciate that ultimately, Pierce makes a distinction between the two things. Evvy may feel cursed initially, but when she arrives in Moharrin, she understands her own personal responsibility much better. Namely, she realizes that in Meryem, she’s been given a second chance. The fact that these three people survived the eruption of the volcano and the ash from Mount Grace is astounding, yes. But in this victory, Evvy’s thoughts turn inward. She readily admits that it’s time for her to help these people, first of all, since it’s her fault they’re in Moharrin. But there’s more to this conscious decision than just helping this family. For Evvy, it’s her moment to change her whole outlook. She makes reference to a “new direction” in her life, and it initially perplexed me.

I was a meat creature who had come close to being a monster. I had almost surrendered being human without knowing what I was giving up. Maybe only Rosethorn, Luvo, and Myrrhtide would know I had helped to save lives and this island. That made me feel good. Useful. As if I had earned my place among my fellow meat creatures.

I spoke throughout my reviews of this book of a number of different behavioral aspects of Evvy’s characterization. I thought she was justifiably selfish towards others; she had lived a difficult life and it was a challenge for her to trust others. She protected herself above all other things. That’s not inherently a bad thing, either. But we saw in her treatment of Meryem a moment where her pragmatic toughness could hurt someone else in a very demonstrable way. We saw her willingness to leave Starns without helping anyone who might have needed it. Again, I think all these reactions and behaviors were understandable!

But it’s because of her experience with Meryem, with Flare and Carnelian, and with Nory, that shows her that there is a value in selfless dedication. It shows her why Rosethorn is a Dedicate at Winding Circle. She finally understands why people choose to devote their lives to helping others. And she wants to earn more of it. She wants to earn that feeling again and again! It’ll be a long journey, too, and the end of Melting Stones ends with a glimpse of what Evvy’s journey could be. Whether that will appear in Battle Magic or not is another matter, but I think that this book gives us a great sense of closure while looking to the future. Evvy has many things to work through in the meantime.

Like getting a cat.


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 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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