Mark Reads ‘Daja’s Book’: Chapter 7

In the seventh chapter of Daja’s Book, Sandry continues to map her and her friends’ power, and Frostpine reacts negatively to it. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Circle of Magic.



Pierce continues to unsettle me with all these hints towards the UTTER DISASTER that awaits Gold Ridge. I don’t think she’s trying to be secretive about this; we’re meant to expect the grassfires to get worse, and we’re meant to mistrust Yarrun’s abilities. So this then becomes an unbearable waiting game. When will it happen? When will the fires spread quicker than they can be obtained? What damage will they cause? WHY AM I SO NERVOUS?



“I don’t understand,” Tris said, her voice hoarse. “At first she acted like she almost hated Daja, but now she goes to all this trouble, getting food and offering to ride with us –“ She stopped, coughing.

The trade-token that Polyam finally brings to Daja is unreal. It’s so much better than I expected, even knowing that Polyam was taking this trade seriously. As Daja explains, the gift was from the “caravan’s goods,” meaning that the caravan thinks better of her than they did before. Which… that’s uncommon in general, I imagine, and then you factor in that Daja is trangshi and it’s completely unique. Why? I think the possible key to understanding Polyam’s shifting behavior comes from Lark:

“I think partly she does it because she can,” Lark explained when Tris caught her breath. “Because they let her. As wirok she’s a despised person. They give her their leavings –“

“And their scorn,” said Rosethorn quietly. She had been seated at a desk, writing.

Lark nodded. “But now, she’s the only avenue for them to buy something they want. She’s getting better food out of them than she might see for weeks, not to mention access to trade goods. They’re listening to her now. I’d take advantage, in her shoes.”

It’s a fascinating parallel between Daja and Polyam, though I recognize that they’re not in the same position within Trader culture. At least Polyam is still a part of the caravan, you know? But at the same time, Polyam is far down the ladder in the social hierarchy, and by drawing out this process, she’s finding ways to lift herself up, too. Does that mean she also sympathizes with what Daja’s been going through since she was designated as trangshi? Can she empathize with what it must feel like to be treated as less than worthy by your own people?

I don’t know. I like Lark’s theory, but I still want to see more scenes with Polyam. THIS IS SO FASCINATING.


Exactly zero people are surprised that Frostpine’s backstory resonated with me. I, too, was disturbed by the scene where Frostpine was furious at his colleagues for allowing their students to give up their magic to Sandry. I certainly didn’t expect that I’d get an explanation for it within this chapter, but I sensed that Frostpine had a personal reason for his behavior. I mean, the dude wasn’t furious during a MASSIVE PIRATE ATTACK. Why would a controlled transfer of magic supervised by the best mages in Winding Circle upset him so much?

I’m always going to be drawn towards narratives that challenge the idea that parents can do no wrong. I had nothing like that growing up. I was raised to believe my parents were infallible and that they deserved a reverence and fear that was accorded such infallibility. As I became aware that how I was treated was not the norm (nor was it right), it was incredibly hard for me to understand where I fit in the world. It’s not easy to have to explain a complicated relationship with your parents like this to… well, anyone. There’s little framework or support in our society for it.
So that’s one reason why this hit me so hard. Like Frostpine, I know what it feels like to be dehumanized by your own parents, to be viewed not as a whole person or a son, but a means to an end. But I appreciate that Tamora Piece (as she did with Daine’s character in The Immortals) is willing to write something like this. It’s not easy to read, and I’m sad just thinking about it now. No one should have to feel this way about the people who are supposed to love you unconditionally. But “should” doesn’t erase that it does happen. So I’m thankful that this exists, because it tells people like me that what happened to me was real, that there are others out there who can empathize, and that I still have a place in the world.

It matters to me.

The original text contains use of the word “crazy.”

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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