In the first half of the fifth chapter of Wizards at War, Dairine learns just how tense Roshaun’s life is. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.
I mentioned at the end of the video for this part that I really shouldn’t have been that surprised by what happened here. (It’s not even over, either. I’M SCARED.) But despite knowing that the relationship between the king and the populace of Wellakh has always been tenuous since the royal family saved the planet, I STILL WAS NOT READY. It’s one thing to be told, but it’s another thing to see it, to experience that fear and hatred and pressure firsthand.
Of course, before this, I was yet again lulled into safety by CLOTHING. You should probably watch the video to hear me talk about my difficulty with visualizing and describing clothing for context, but suffice to say that I was wowed by the production that came with preparing for meeting Roshaun’s father. That’s part of the reason that the scene at the balustrade felt so shocking: Roshaun had prepared Dairine for his father only. He never made mention of the fact that she’d have to dress up for his subjects, and thus, it wasn’t on my mind. I was busy thinking about Spot’s weirdness. Or how both Roshaun and Ronan had affected Carmela. Or the INCREDIBLE wizardry that Spot did to change Dairine’s existing clothes into that stunning emerald piece that she wore. It had been hard to imagine Dairine dressing up (something I relate to deeply), but lord, I would love to get another scene where she gets to be fancy. IT WAS SO RELATABLE.
But I do want to focus on that crowd because I am now realizing that Roshaun may not have seen his behavior as an oversight. He’s used to this dynamic, I’m sure, and he probably witnessed it his entire life, though it was directed more towards his father. So you could easily argue that this is why he didn’t say anything. Now, the experience is unsettling for Dairine and the reader. The sheer scale of that crowd creeped me out, as did the apparent devotion they exhibited by WAITING OUTSIDE FOR DAYS FOR ROSHAUN TO MAKE AN APPEARANCE. That is so upsetting to me? Even then, one might expect adoration and excitement, but not this:
As he came to where everyone could see him, a sound started to go up from the crowd nearest the balustrade, and rolled back across it like a wave: a murmur of comment, curiosity… and straightforward hostility. These people wanted to see Roshaun, but not because they liked him. The murmur sounded to Dairine like the thoughtful sound an animal makes deep in its throat when it sees something it considers a threat, an utterance just short of a growl.
That’s awful, right? Yet Roshaun says nothing to warn Dairine of this. Instead, he warns her about his father, which makes me worried. What if Roshaun’s father is objectively worse than this crowd? What if his father is so bad that warning for anything else is a waste of time? He scolds her about making a joke at one point, and while it’s a reminder to act more formal, it also had an unspoken layer to it: my father does not joke around.
Dairine and Roshaun might be afraid of the people of Wellakh, but I’m more terrified by Roshaun’s father. AND I HAVEN’T EVEN MET HIM YET.
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