Mark Reads ‘Tris’s Book’: Chapter 10

In the tenth chapter of Tris’s Book, I genuinely do not understand how there is anything left to this book. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Circle of Magic.

Trigger Warning: For nonconsensual drugging, murder.

This is an elaborate prank, right? Because practically every conflict but one was just solved, and there are three chapters left. Admittedly, that one conflict left is pretty damn big. There’s still a whole bunch of ships out in the harbor! But I DID NOT EXPECT ANY OF THIS TO HAPPEN AS SOON AS IT DID.

Y’all. Y’all.

Supper came up from the Hub, but no one wanted the trouble of setting the table or of cleanup later. Those with the strength nibbled on bread, cheese, fresh garden vegetables, and smoked fish from the coldbox; everyone but Aymery seemed half-asleep.

Ignoring the fact that the description of food here made me super hungry, LOOK AT ALL THAT FORESHADOWING AND PLANNING. I know I wasn’t entirely surprised by Aymery’s betrayal, but I don’t think I was meant to be. We knew from details revealed in past chapters that there was something weird going on with him. Once Briar snooped around in his room, I had all the confirmation I needed. He was the one who had sabotaged Winding Circle’s defense for the pirates. So if this isn’t the big shocker of the book, what else is significant here? Why is this story structured as it is?

First of all, I think the way this is written allows Pierce to show us how Briar’s sense of cynicism actually works to his benefit. While I think there’s a positivity to this quartet that I absoutely adore (CIRCLE OF FRIENDSHIP, NEVER FORGET), I’m glad that Pierce has routinely showed us how suspicion and concern are worthy tools for a person to have. In this case, Briar relies on the instinct he developed on the streets to look upon Aymery critically:

He liked Tris’s cousin, but in Deadman’s District he had liked a great many people who he couldn’t trust as far as he could throw them. Aymery made him feel untrusting. He tried to tell himself he wasn’t jealous of the way Tris looked at her family-approved mage cousin, the one who’d been kind to her, but living with Rosethorn tended to strip the illusions from a boy. Briar was jealous, a bit, but he told himself that had little to do with it. Something about Aymery was not right.

THERE’S SO MUCH AT WORK HERE. You’ve got Briar’s instinct telling him that Aymery is hiding something bad, but you can also see that Briar is aware that his own jealousy for Tris is at play. That’s a big deal that he can recognize something like that! Even when accounting for it, he knows that there’s something off about this man. I’d also offer up the conclusion that Briar’s time in the streets of Deadman’s District is what helps him figure out why Aymery’s possessions don’t add up. (Putting aside the existence of the cinnamon oil and poppy, of course.) His understanding of the merchant culture allows him to deduct that Aymery is lying, and it’s such an entertaining thing to read.

So is the eternal greatness that is Briar + Tris, which I may explode from. Look, I just love the dynamic between these two because Briar and Tris are so consciously unlikable. Look, I adore them, I want to be friends with them forever, and that doesn’t negate that they both do deliberate things that make them difficult. They have to. Even if they’d probably fight me over it, I’m fine saying that these two have so much more in common than they realize. They’ve had to become thorny and cruel in order to protect themselves, and I SUPPORT THIS SO MUCH. These two may have self-esteem issues, but there’s a ferocity in their belief that the best person they can trust is themselves. So it’s really satisfying to see them begin to trust one another in a way that doesn’t change their core personality, but opens themselves up to the possibility of having a real, genuine, trustworthy friend:

His eyes met hers; the words dried to ash in her mouth. This was Briar. They had kept each other alive during the earthquake, and they’d watched clouds get born together. She’d only just started to teach him to read, but she could tell already that he would love it as much as she did. He had kept her from falling off a wall only that morning.

In short? While the Briar at the beginning of Sandry’s Book may have pulled Tris’s leg for the sake of it, that’s not who he is anymore, and Tris knows it. And this is why I don’t think Pierce was trying to surprise us with the reveal that Aymery was behind the sabotage. She was surprising Tris with it. Tris immediately goes into denial about Aymery, even if she doesn’t necessarily disbelieve Briar. But it doesn’t really last long, and as Briar reveals one suspicious fact after another, Tris is quietly accepting that her perception of Aymery is wrong, AND SHE JUST CASUALLY CALLS LIGHTNING TO HER AND NO BIG DEAL, THAT HAPPENS.

The lightning had been so beautiful. It didn’t hurt her feelings. It didn’t tell lies. It was above everything ugly. People didn’t matter to it.

She wished that people didn’t matter to her.

Just crush me with the pages of this book, will you??? MY FEELINGS DON’T MATTER.

Little did I know that this wasn’t even the worst part. Was it awful reading about Tris and Briar following Aymery, all the while knowing that Briar is right BUT TRIS STILL WANTS TO DEFEND AYMERY? Oh gods, yes. Was it awful when she said that Aymery would just explain everything to them, as if that would make it all fine? YES, Y’ALL, AND I WAS PREPARING MYSELF FOR THE INEVITABLE HEARTBREAK. Except then this is followed by the sudden reveal that Aymery PUT DRUGS INTO THE HUB’S FOOD SUPPLY SO THAT EVERYONE WOULD BE ASLEEP WHEN HE RUINED THEIR LIVES AND I HATE AYMERY A GREAT DEAL.

It’s just… y’all, this whole chapter is a portrait of Tris’s slow and saddening realization of who Aymery is and what he’s done. She finds out he’s a liar. She finds out that he’s betraying all of these people – who have never done a thing to him – for a petty, worthless reason like PAYING BACK A GAMBLING DEBT. The reason I’m pointing that out is because it makes the heartbreak worse for Tris. She wanted him to explain himself, and his reasoning is so abysmal that she can’t even deny that he’s a horrible person anymore. And then he punches her when she tries to stop him, and it’s just awful. 100% awful on all fronts.

I really should have realized that once Aymery stated with certainty that Enahar would free him from his debt, HE HAD DOOMED HIMSELF. I felt no sympathy for him when he died. He had drugged an entire city so that they could be MURDERED IN THEIR SLEEP. He showed absolutely no remorse when Tris called him on it, and he deserves his fate. That doesn’t mean I don’t ache for Tris, and that doesn’t mean that SHE deserves to see him die with so little closure:

“It was for money,” Tris muttered into Sandry’s nightgown. “He said they enslaved him, but he didn’t seem to mind. He was going to let people die for… for gold.”

And Tris will never really get closure on this. That is why this chapter is so powerful. It tracks Tris’s realization of how awful the world can be. There’s been a common motif surrounding her throughout this novel where multiple characters (particularly Sandry) have mentioned that Tris has not seen the things others have seen.

I would never say that Tris has had an easy life; she hasn’t by any means, and the traumatic things she’s gone through helped shape her into who she is. But because her experience was so lonely and singular (to her, that is), she’s never experienced societal trauma like Sandry, Briar, or Daja have. They’re used to murder, to pirates, to systemic oppression, to entire cultures built to make one’s self feel terrible and hopeless. All her life, Tris has perceived (correctly, I’d say) that what happened to her happened only to her. While abandonment and shitty families are far more common than Tris thinks, there was no way for her to know that while in her situation. She truly felt like an outcast in that regards. But witnessing the horrors of terrorism, pirating, betrayal, and capitalistic greed, Tris has to accept that there are larger factors outside of her control that are miserable. Yes, the betrayal of her brother hits her terribly hard; but she now can’t ignore the way money can turn people into evil things, nor can she ignore the powerful motivation of greed.

Tris’s world got so much uglier in one night, and it breaks my heart.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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