Mark Reads ‘Battle Magic’: Chapter 10

In the tenth chapter of Battle Magic, EVERYTHING IS AWFUL and then it’s great for a little while? If you’re intrigued, then it’s time for Mark to read Battle Magic. 

Trigger Warning: For death, warfare.

Goddamn, this is so intense.

Now that we’ve arrived in the final Tamora Pierce book I’m reading for this site (for now!!! JUST WAIT UNTIL MORE BOOKS COME OUT), I do admit that I’m struggling with something that’s sort of unique to this specific project. I like to try my best to keep my reviews interesting and thoughtful, and there’s a challenge to that because I need to come up with ways to say things I’ve been saying the whole time.

Namely? Holy shit, this is fucked up. I know I’ve typed that exact sentence AT LEAST a few thousand times, you know? We’ve seen variations on what’s in Battle Magic, and this is certainly not the first time that Pierce is writing about young people dealing with the horrors of death and murder. So, when this happens, I ask myself an important question: How is this different? How does a writer write in a specific genre or create an oeuvre without repeating themselves?

There are answers to that question in this chapter and what I’ve read so far. First of all, it’s worth pointing out that if read in publication order, Battle Magic is the first time we are largely spoiled for a story. We know quite a few story beats and events that happened during this time, but there are even more that are still a mystery. It’s sort of like in media res in that sense, given that we’ve got to figure out what it is that leads to the end result.

But for me, Battle Magic is set apart from the other books because of the sheer scope of it. We’ve never dealt with war in a sense that feels so total and final, you know? Battles… plenty of them! Skirmishes, fights, attacks, and even a pirate siege. But this is a vicious, all-encompassing war between a tiny country and a massive, oppressive invading force, and it scares me on a level that a lot of the other books don’t. It’s too real. Even worse, I feel like Weishu might get away with it, given that all we know is that Rosethorn, Briar, and Evvy had to escape from Weishu’s armies. Does that mean they ultimately could not stop him?

Well, now I’m getting way ahead of myself. I can’t help but think of the future as I read what’s happening now in this book. The fight that breaks out in the first part of this chapter makes me do just that. All I can think about is what the hell are they gonna do when it gets worse. I know about the emotional ramifications of this war on the three main characters, but I’m concerning myself with the logistical ones. Look, Weishu was able to get troops into Gyongxe days ahead of any sort of suspicion. The fact that there are so many in the Snow Serpent Pass disturbs me. Nevermind that they’re all able to kill them before they are killed. That’s just one battle, and the four of them didn’t face down against an entire army. OF WHICH WEISHU HAS MANY. Where else are they hiding? What if they figure out that Rosethorn used the cotton in the mages’ beads in order to choke them? WHAT IF THEY STOP UNDERESTIMATING THE AMBIENT MAGES’ MAGIC?

I was slightly relieved by the appearance of the Gyongxian soldiers, yet I’m perplexed. How did they know Rosethorn was coming??? WHY IS THIS BOTHERING ME SO MUCH? I know it can’t be due to some negative reason, but it still irks me. How did Dokyi or the God-King know? If they knew, does that mean they’re aware of Weishu’s full intentions? At the very least, Rosethorn still has to return, since she needs to protect the temple in Gyongxe. But I was very shocked by this development. It’s neat that Pierce doesn’t use it as a deus ex machina, either. The group defended themselves brilliantly, and the Gyongxian forces showing up is more like a coincidence.

Regardless, this was an exhausting chapter (which is a compliment, for the record!), since we went from a super intense battle, to a shock, and then to everyone being utterly wasted from exertion. The group must press on, though, and I think that’s another reason why this felt so tiring, you know? I felt like I was there, and I worried about how long any of them would be able to keep it up, day after day. I wonder, then, if that’s the point of the final scene. As Evvy gets higher up into the mountains, will she draw power from them? Is this how she finds Luvo? Her behavior here is so unlike what we’ve seen of her, but I have to remember that she’d never experienced mountains like this before!

Ugh, this book makes me nervous.

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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