Last time, Cal had no respect for personal space (how charming! [/sarcasm]) and some maids prepared Mare for her first banquet. This time, the chapter opens with Mare thinking about what the queen said, and also about class divisions and the divisions therein.
“Red in the head, Silver in the heart sticks with [Mare], guiding [her] motions” — she’s impressed by the palace but acts as Mareena would, “cold and unfeeling”. She steps into a large room, with all the houses waiting, and she notices the royal family on a little stage. “They never miss an opportunity to lord over the others.”
Italic Abuse: 125
Cal has an excellent poker face, but Maven’s face is “a storm cloud of emotions. The younger brother is not as good as Cal at hiding his feelings” gee thanks book, wouldn’t have known if you hadn’t said so! Please, explain further, I’m not sure if I quite understand yet. Really. Go ahead.
(Should’ve done a hand-holding count.)
Mare assuages me with beautiful optimistic pragmatism: “At least I won’t have to deal with a good liar.”
Italic Abuse: 126
Good point, Mare.
King Tiberias makes a speech to introduce Mare. He talks about Ethan Titanos, Mare’s ‘father’, and the crowd murmurs. The king gives a brief history on Ethan: led the Iron Legion to victory, was killed by Lakelander spies, had a wife (Lady Nora) who died with him sixteen years ago, etc. etc., House Titanos was no more. The room is silent, and the queen dabs at her eyes in a move Mare thinks is calculated while some of the queen candidates fidget in their chairs. Mare compares the queen’s stupid plan to magic and the queen to a magician, then Elara looks up at Mare, prompting the rest of the room to do the same.
Elara continues the king’s speech, recounting the events of Queenstrial. Evangeline looks pissed, possibly since she knows her good name will soon be tarnished and her characterization flushed down the drain because love triangle. Elara talks about how they “‘interviewed’” Mare to find out what she was and Mare thinks, “Interview is a funny way to describe scrambling my brain.”
Italic Abuse: 127
Then Elara beckons Mare, who obeys, walking through the curious crowd. She sits with the royals and notes that most of the Queenstrial participants are looking at her with pity, except Evangeline, who glares at her.
The king continues the speech where the queen left off, talking about Mare’s ‘backstory’ and ending with, “‘To atone for my ignorance, and to repay her father and her house for their great contributions to the kingdom, I would like to take this moment to announce the joining of House Calore and the resurrected House Titanos.’
Another gasp, this one from the girls of Queenstrial. They think I’m taking Cal away from them. They think I’m their competition.”
Italic Abuse: 128
Evangeline is silently freaking out, but the Samos patriarch stills her. (Interestingly, Mare has referred to the Samos patriarch as “cruel” twice now, based on — you guessed it — no evidence.)
Then Maven steps forward and the room collectively lets out their breath. Maven ‘proposes’ to Mare, who wonders who would’ve been chosen for him. Then she wonders, “Who would I have chosen?”
Italic Abuse: 129
“If none of this had happened[…]Conscription. Survival. Green-eyed children with my quick feet and Kilorn’s last name.”
Italic Abuse: 130
Haha, what? Perhaps I misread that. I must have — I’ve been praising this book for chapters about Mare and Kilorn’s relationship because platonic male-female friendships are so rare in YA lit. Obviously I misread —
“Green-eyed children with my quick feet and Kilorn’s last name.”
Wow! I did not misread that! Why do I ever hope!
Also, it’s interesting that the book doesn’t address who Gisa — you know, Mare’s beloved younger sister, the one who canonically has a crush on Kilorn? That Gisa? Remember her? — would’ve chosen. Nor does it address Kilorn’s choice.
(Please get new friends, Kilorn.)
Mare accepts Maven’s ‘proposal’ and sits down, while Maven slinks back to his seat. His mom pats his arm and smiles at him, but the smile vanishes when Cal stands to choose.
Cal makes a long and pointless speech and the girls are hanging on to his every word, except Evangeline the Awesome, who wears “an obscene smirk”. Her family is similarly confident because “[t]hey know who has been chosen”.
Italic Abuse: 131
Cal chooses Evangeline, and Mare remembers the yellow-bedecked family’s complaints about how Evangeline had already won. “They were right.”
Italic Abuse: 132
Well, Evangeline was the best, hence her title, so of course. Best and therefore, because this is YA lit, bitchiest: she stands and sneers at Mare and at the crestfallen girls behind her. Cal then proposes to Evangeline, who accepts “in a voice that is oddly high and breathy, contrasting with her hard appearance” remember when Mare thought that Evangeline looked like “the weakest of all” back during Queenstrial? Remember that? Yet now her appearance is hard. Okey-dokey.
Evangeline smirks again and sits, and Cal also returns to his seat. Then Evangeline starts digging her fingernails into Mare’s arm, worrying Mare more than it hurts her: if Evangeline draws blood, the whole game will be up. She stops short of breaking the skin, though, instead telling Mare this: “‘Get in my way and I’ll kill you slowly, little lightning girl’” oh my god, book, stop trying to make this title happen, it’s not going to happen!
“Little lightning girl. The nickname is really starting to get on my nerves.”
Italic Abuse: 133
Same, Mare. Also, where did Evangeline learn this? Has the queen been whispering to her about it? It’s a condescending nickname, so if the queen told Evangeline about it, it’s a stupid move: why would the queen look down upon a miracle Silver that she’s adopting into her family?
And Evangeline — what the hell is your problem? Leave Mare alone.
The metal bracelet on Evangeline’s wrist grows spikes and Mare watches it, fearful that its tips will spill blood, but Evangeline does nothing. Mare, understandably, dislikes Evangeline. Regretfully, I do too.
Mare observes that the mood in the room has grown sullen what with Cal’s choice, and Mare wants to hand over her betrothal to one of the girls, as she doesn’t want it. Obviously she doesn’t do this, because she has to be happy.
King Tiberias blah-blahs about why the choosing is important, about the war and the seemingly “small and insignificant” Scarlet Guard threatening the Silvers’ way of life.
“Small and insignificant. Then why do they need me?” Mare wonders. “Why use me, if the Scarlet Guard is nothing to them? The king is a liar.”
Italic Abuse: 135
“But what he’s trying to hide, I’m still not sure. It could be the Guard’s strength. It could be me.
It’s probably both.”
Italic Abuse: 136
The king finishes the speech by saying that both Evangeline and “Mareena” will maintain the balance, and closes with the motto, “‘Strength and power[.]’” The room parrots it back to him, including Mare, who hates herself for it.
The next scene opens with Mare not having a great time at the banquet. There’s more food than she’s ever seen, but she feels so exposed and confused that she can’t enjoy it. Maven tries to assure her that she’s doing fine, but she ignores his words, instead paying attention to his flame-regulating bracelet. It reminds her of who he is.
Mare drinks copious amounts of what I think is champagne, feeling traitorous, guilty: “What are my parents eating for dinner tonight? Do they even know where I am? Or is Mom sitting on the porch, waiting for me to come home?”
Italic Abuse: 139
Three because that was pretty long. Though I like her family-oriented thoughts here.
Mare reflects that rather than being at home with her family, she’s in a room full of her oppressors, who would kill her if given the chance. She’s also sure that the royals will do so one day. “They’ve pulled me inside out, swapping Mare for Mareena, a thief for a crown, rags for silk, Red for Silver.”
Italic Abuse 140
“This morning I was a servant, tonight I’m a princess. How much more will change? What else will I lose?”
If the love triangle(s) plays out, then you’ll probably lose my goodwill. Though you should take comfort in the fact that you will probably never, ever lose your love of italics.
Italic Abuse: 141
Maven pulls away her champagne because, as mentioned, she’s tipsy, or near it. He gives her a glass of water, which Mare drinks even though she tells him she was enjoying the champagne. Maven says Mare’ll thank him later and Mare snarkily says ‘thank you’, to which Maven apologizes for his behaviour earlier today. He uses her new name, and Mare thinks, “My name is Mare.”
Italic Abuse: 142
Mare expresses disbelief at his apology but Maven insists that he means it — “‘[i]t’s just — usually younger princes get to choose. One of the few perks of not being the heir,’ he adds with a terribly forced smile.”
Huh. That kind of sucks. Mare says she didn’t know that and half-agrees with me: “I should feel sorry for him, but I can’t bring myself to feel any kind of pity for a prince.” Considering how cushy his life is, that sentiment makes sense, especially because Mare suspects that she’ll die in an ‘accident’ to prevent her and Maven marrying.
Maven says it’s not her fault that she wasn’t aware of royal marriage customs, then he looks dramatically over the hall. Mare asks if he’s looking for the girl he meant to choose, and Maven responds that he’s not because he didn’t have anyone in mind, just that he likes having the choice. Mare thinks that this is something she wouldn’t know: “No, I don’t know. I don’t have the luxury of that choice. Not now, not ever.”
Italic Abuse: 143
Oblivious, Maven continues that Cal didn’t have a choice, either, and that now he (Maven) understands how that feels. Mare tells him off beautifully, and I will post the entire quote because I love it: “‘You and your brother have everything, Prince Maven,’” I whisper in a voice so fervent it might be a prayer. ‘You live in a palace, you have strength, you have power. You wouldn’t know hardship if it kicked you in the teeth, and believe me, it does that a lot. So excuse me if I don’t feel sorry for either of you.’”
Tell ’im, Mare! That was so cathartic. There are still some questions it brings up, though:
- There’s that simile (metaphor?) about prayer, to start with, which reminds me strongly of my problems with the ‘gods’ thing in chapter one. So far this setting seems pretty secular other than to compare the Silvers to deities; where would Mare have learned of prayer? Did her schoolteachers teach her how to pray and to which god(s)? Or I guess it was part of the useless history lesson on the gods, which is also irksome.
- Funny how she hasn’t told Cal off about the same thing. As I recall, he’s the heir, so he has EVEN MORE POWER AND PRIVILEGE than Maven, doesn’t he? Plus, when Mare last saw Cal, he was creeping around her room — a “““private””” place — so she could’ve said something then more safely than she is now with her ‘get mad at Maven WHILE SITTING AT THE ROYAL TABLE’ thing. So. Where’s Cal’s well-deserved telling-off? Nowhere yet, likely because he has ‘first-introduced love interest’ armor (or should that be…amor?) (Sorry.)
Mare kicks herself for mouthing off to a royal and drinks her water to cool her temper, while Maven glares at her. But then he sighs and agrees, bitterly, that no one should feel sorry for him. He glances at Cal, who “beams like the sun” as he laughs with King Tiberias, and turns back to Mare with a forced smile and “a surprising sadness in his eyes.”
Ah, Cal’s the favourite. No wonder Maven’s bitter. I feel a bit bad for him despite everything, and Mare agrees with me in the chapter’s closing lines: “As much as I try, I can’t ignore the sudden jolt of pity I feel for the forgotten prince. But it passes when I remember who he is and who I am.
I’m a Red girl in a sea of Silvers, and I can’t afford to feel sorry for anyone, least of all the son of a snake.”
I like that line. Nice closing, book.
ITALIC ABUSE: 143
MARE, THE SUPER RARE: 13
FOOLING AROUND: 13