In the twelfth chapter of Battle Magic, Rosethorn, Briar, and Evvy all prepare for the fight ahead of them. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Battle Magic.
I do think that this chapter exists to set up what is about to happen in the very immediate future. I wouldn’t be that surprised to learn that shit gets real in chapter thirteen because Pierce is certainly relying on the tension of the inevitable at this point. That’s not a criticism, for the record; it’s just that this story feels like it’s about to burst right around now.
Briar’s restlessness is definitely part of that. I felt what he felt, though for a different reason. He wakes up on the eve of Rosethorn parting from Fort Sambachu, and he can’t bring himself to go back to sleep. So he spends time out in the grasses of the Gnam Runga, where he’ll have to be if he needs to help defend the fort from the Yanjingyi army. (I say “if,” but I’m positive that it’s more of a “when” situation.) The Gnam Runga plain seems like just the kind of place for an epic battle to unfold, except it inspires no joy or anticipation in me. I JUST GET NERVOUS. But one detail out of this whole opening scene struck me as important:
The grasses were scornful of fat, water-soaked plants beyond the mountains. Only here, next to the sky, could they reach for the infinite.
So much of the text has told us that this place – the land in Gyonxge – represents an almost magical sense of purpose to the people who live or visit there. That’s not to say that Gyonxge is without its problems, as I’m sure they have them. But this land is, if you’ll excuse the religious reference, almost like a holy place. How long until it’s tainted by the Yanjingyi army? This is the land where you can “reach for the infinite,” and I’m certain that Emperor Weishu doesn’t care about that. If he does, it’s only in relation to his own greed. What fate will unfold on the Gnam Runga? Look, there are repeated references in this chapter of the life and vitality of the land. It seems important to me because I imagine, in very short time, this same land will play host to a whole lot of death. And it unnerves me.
It’s that same affect I spoke of many times prior to this. For example, when Jimut was introduced, my immediate thought (which I did not vocalize) was, “OH, HE’S DEAD.” Like, that was my gut reaction! It’s such a weird thing to experience because I think that in another context, much of this chapter would make me feel differently. As Briar and Rosethorn set up the thorns and vines to block the pass into the Fort, I think I otherwise would have been thrilled to read this section. Look how awesome they are! Look at how brilliant they are to block the pass with vines that cut down fairly easily at first, only to attack THREE TIMES AS FAST ONCE THEY ARE HURT. That means they’ll be extremely effective!
Except that the Yanjinyi army is fucking massive. They’re willing to lose plenty of soldiers because it’s just a numbers game. What happens when all the vines are burnt or chopped up? Disaster, that’s what!
UGH THIS BOOK HURTS. Evvy says goodbye to Parahan at the end of chapter twelve, and guess what my immediate thought was there, too? HE’S DEAD. THE END. Because again, absolutely every single introduced character thus far is expendable in this story, and it’s terrifying. I am trying not to develop any attachments, but that’s easier said than done, especially when it comes to Parahan. What have you don’t to me, Tamora Pierce?
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