Mark Reads ‘Tris’s Book’: Chapter 11

In the eleventh chapter of Tris’s Book, Tris struggles with loss while discovering a new and awe-inspiring ability. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Circle of Magic.

Trigger Warning: For discussion of grief, trauma.

Well, now I know how there is A LOT more of this story to tell. AND I LOVE THAT IT’S MOSTLY TRIS’S STORY. I feel like it has to be, not just because the book is named after her. This is about Tris, more than any of these other characters, learning how to gain control over herself. I know it’s vital that all four Discipline kids learn this, but Tris has a unique pain that she’s got to get through that the others don’t. And they all know that! They know that Tris’s magic is attached to her own rage and fear, so this shows us how Tris can start to learn how to harness those emotions in a way that’s not destructive to her and others.

But it’s a difficult path, and Pierce doesn’t ignore that the events in this chapter are quite literally the day after Aymery died and Tris had to see his corpse. Tris is alternately jumpy or emotionally removed during her interactions with her housemates the next morning, and she veers between these two extremes in a span of seconds at times. And it’s a hard thing to read because you can tell she’s aching. Again, Tris had never experienced anything like this in her life, and it’s clear that she was latching on to Aymery’s earrings out of grief. I was thankful that Frostpine was there to give her some perspective on the night before, such as when he tells her that the hail she created most likely saved everyone’s life. She can’t see a big picture at this point because she’s so consumed by the sadness of it all.

So I found it really fitting that she focused on pretty much anything that she could grasp at the moment. It’s a familiar trope because it’s often the easiest way to cope with grief, and lord knows I did the same thing in the days after my father passed. In this specific case, Tris focuses on building these little whirlwinds/columns of air on the kitchen table in flour. Which, for the record, may be the CUTEST single image in this whole chapter. She moves on from this to the coolest thing in the universe: CONTROL OF LIGHTNING. And that word is so important: control. When Tris realizes she can weld Daja’s spell net for her with little bolts of lightning, it suggests something so much greater. Daja recognizes how huge this is, not just for mage-work, but for Tris herself. It showed that Tris was able to manage power in a way that was deliberate. She wasn’t creating this unknowingly. IT WAS WITH PURPOSE.

Oh, Tris, I JUST CARE ABOUT YOU SO MUCH.

It’s also clear that Pierce is setting up Tris to be the one who can provide a possible solution to the pirate onslaught. We find out that the powder within the boom-stones is extremely normal, meaning that the shells are magicked and constructed in a way to allow the pirate mages to explode them in transit. (Can I also just say that SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS WITH ROSETHORN, LARK, AND NIKO is one of my absolute favorite things, HOW IS THIS BOOK REAL.) So when the kids begin to experiment themselves, they unknowingly reveal an answer. But that’s not readily apparent, though. When the adults leave to go help the recently bombed part of the Water Temple, the four Discipline kids immediately turn to discussing the topic of Tris’s lightning ability.

I also appreciate how many complex issues are at work here. Tris is grieving; Winding Circle is being bombed, which frays everyone’s nerves; all of them are eager to help, but confined to staying home. So when Briar teases Tris all so he can goad her into using her power, it’s not simply Tris getting angry. She is furious because Briar so frequently pokes fun at her, and it’s important that that be acknowledged. But in her anger, she points her finger at Briar, which in any other context might not have been as volatile or scary. However, Tris has the power to kill, something that the other three kids don’t have readily available to them. Still, Sandry doesn’t just speak about Tris when she addresses what just happened to them all:

“We can’t just act without thinking anymore, Tris. They’ve been trying to teach us that all along. I guess if we’re mages, we can’t exactly be kids, can we?” she asked the other two.

No, not anymore, at least. They’re dealing with undeniably powerful forces, and Tris could very well end a life with hers. This means that all four of these kids have to put aside their differences and work with another. And shit, that really means that Briar has got to stop picking on Tris, and Tris has to control her emotions. Y’all, they’re SO YOUNG. I keep having to remind myself that they’re dealing with shit like this AS CHILDREN. As children, they’re discovering just how scary the world is and how pervasive death and violence is.

So what comes next? They now have a way to track down Enahar from Aymery’s earrings, and, in one HELL of a shocker, Tris can now shoot lighting at the boom-stones and explode them in the air. IT’S TIME FOR THE CIRCLE OF FRIENDSHIP TO ASSEMBLE, ISN’T IT? It totally is.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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