Mark Reads ‘Battle Magic’: Chapter 9

In the ninth chapter of Battle Magic, the trio meet a familiar face and face their first battle. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Battle Magic.

Trigger Warning: For discussion of war, slavery, blood/gore, and ableism/disability.

WELL. I GUESS IT’S ALL HAPPENING NOW.

The Beggar

Y’all, HOW DID I NOT SEE THIS?

Two days after they had crossed the bridge, Briar saw the man he had come to think of as their beggar again.

Here’s what I expected: an examination of how this man ended up a beggar in Yanjing. With so many varied people met on the road back to Gyongxe, I relished the chance to learn more about this place and the people who lived there or were escaping from it. I feel like we got a great sense of that from the Traders, and this was just another opportunity. Hell, I even thought this part was simply another detail that contributed to the worldbuilding in Yanjing:

“Look at his neck.”

The rags the beggar wore for scarves had come undone. The morning’s stiff breeze blew them onto the hillside. He was struggling to climb after them when Evvy galloped uphill to grab the flyaway rags. She had learned some riding tricks in their two years of travel, and she loved to show off.

Like Rosethorn, Briar was staring. The beggar’s neck was as dirty as the rest of him. What dirt could not cover was the shackle gall around his throat, the kind of scar that would come from years of wearing a metal collar.

In my mind, they’d come across another slave of the Yanjing empire, not a specific one. I didn’t even catch on once Briar and Rosethorn started talk of wigs and the blind eye, and I even made a ridiculous comment in the video below when Evvy whined about Rosethorn not dragging the beggar by the ear to their campsite.

BECAUSE IT WAS PARAHAN THE WHOLE FUCKING TIME. Oh my god, WHAT THE HELL??? Of course, it seemed ludicrous because… why??? Why was he going in the wrong direction? That’s quickly answered thanks to Evvy’s need to blurt out anything she’s thinking. And look, I don’t blame the man for making this decision. Escaping back to his home really would have been a terrible idea, given that his uncle could have just sold him back to Weishu, and Weishu would undoubtedly do something worse to guarantee that Parahan could not escape a second time. On top of that, the man had logistical concerns to deal with, such as a lack of money and food. How long would he have lasted?

Not very long. WHICH MEANS THAT PARAHAN IS NOW PART OF THEIR GROUP. Pros: Awesome. Entertainment. BADASS FIGHTING SKILLS. Cons: IT IS 99.99% POSSIBLE HE WILL DIE.

Damn you, Tamora Pierce.

The Journey West

I’m a broken record, I know it, but goddamn, this is all so tense. It doesn’t help that Pierce complicates the trip itself with a number of factors that the group can no longer ignore. While I wasn’t at all doubtful of the skills of anyone here, I worried about what or who they would face. It was a treat to see Parahan demonstrate the skills he had as a warrior, but none of them knew what would be at the border. A whole army? Just two guards? And given that Parahan wasn’t going to bother with his disguise anymore, it’s not like they could rely on that anymore.

In addition, Pierce doesn’t ignore that Rosethorn is disabled after her experience in the Deadlands. That doesn’t mean she’s incapable of fighting or that she’s a burden to the others; it just means that they’ve got to take into account certain aspects of her health when pressing forward. In this specific example, Briar has to turn down Parahan’s plan to sneak across the border at night, and Rosethorn opens up about why she must only move during the daylight:

“He’s only half lying, Parahan,” she said. “I don’t see as well in the dark as I used to. I was… ill, six years ago. It’s why I speak as I do, and why I have trouble catching my breath the higher we go, and why my night vision is limited.”

And hey, at least we’ve got Evvy around to spell things out for everyone! Still, this chapter made me nervous because I know that some awful things are coming. How long until we get to them? I honestly didn’t expect this book to progress as quickly as it has, so I AM SCARED.

The Guardhouse

I don’t feel compelled to do a play-by-play of the action in the fight against the guards at the border because I think the video provides the necessary amount of shock and fright at the relentless attack. It is a surreal thing to experience not because I’m unused to this kind of mage fighting, but because I think it’s a sign of what isn’t to come. It was, largely, too easy. By my count, close to ten soldiers were at this point, and they were taken out quickly and efficiently. That’s not to discount the amount of skill and concentration it took to do this, nor is it meant to downplay the severity of what happens here. All four of these people kill someone, Evvy included. The weight of that death is already going to hang over them, and that’s not even the worst of it.

My worry is that this is the only chance they had to take on people before their names and images were spread all over the empire. WEISHU KNOWS. And if he knows, that means it’ll severely limit their ability to travel anywhere without being caught. That does upset me because then we won’t get any brilliant scenes where Parahan pretends to be Rosethorn’s husband. OH, HOW BEAUTIFUL THAT WAS.

This is just the start, and I have the unique chance to claim that I know how horrible this is going to get while still not actually knowing. Ugh, what a book to finish with, y’all!

Mark Links Stuff

I am now on Patreon!!! MANY SURPRISES ARE IN STORE FOR YOU IF YOU SUPPORT ME.
– 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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