Last time, Cal gives Mare money and Mare guesses that Shade is a member of the Scarlet Guard. This time, the chapter opens with the Barrows’ door banging open!
Mare is unconcerned, though, because this — a security search — is a routine thing, though normally it only occurs once or twice annually and this is the third time this year. Mare helps Gisa down from her cot, calling her the dread nickname “‘Gee’”, and Gisa “moves precariously, leaning on her good arm[…]”. An arm is not a leg or foot. She shouldn’t be leaning on it — she should be leaning on Mare on the side of her good arm. Anyway, Momma Mare helps the sisters without any blame in her eyes for Mare, which is good of her — although obviously this isn’t Mare’s fault, it would be easy to place the blame on her, especially because Gisa’s the favourite and most ‘useful’ child.
There are a couple of officers by the door as well as a young woman dressed in red with a crown badge. “A royal servant, a Red who serves the king[…]”
Italic Abuse: 56
That was redundant.
Pappy Mare says the usual ‘go ahead and root through our things, we are second-class citizens after all’ spiel, but the capital-S Security officers don’t move. The woman addresses Mare, telling her that she’s been served a summons to Summerton! (Try saying that ten times fast.) At this, “Gisa’s good hand closes around [Mare’s], like she can hold [Mare] back.” The construction of that sentence makes the tone weird; it sounds like Mare’s practically flipping her hair and saying, “As if your puny hands could hold me back from a royal summons! Pfft.” when that’s obviously not the case. “Like she can protect Mare” might’ve worked better.
Mare is flabbergasted and the woman repeats her statement then says she and her guard buddies will escort Mare. Mare is even more flabbergasted: “A summons. For a Red. Never in my life have I heard of such a thing. So why me? What have I done to deserve this?”
It’s because you’re
Mare, the Super Rare: 8
But then Mare realizes that “[o]n second thought, I’m a criminal and probably considered a terrorist due to my association with Farley.” Farley is such an idiot, oh my god. Just mentioning the Scarlet Guard equals high danger for Reds, and she goes around mentioning it to random teenagers without prompting? Either she wants the Scarlet Guard to be found out or she’s not thinking about how this knowledge puts people in danger — people she’s purportedly trying to help.
Mare thinks rightly that she should probably make a run for it, but the door is blocked and “[i]t’ll be a miracle if [she] make[s] it to a window.”
Italic Abuse: 57
The woman tries to reassure Mare but uses italics to do it — “‘Please proceed.’” — which creeps Mare out as much as it does me.
Italic Abuse: 58
The woman also describes the Hall and the market as “well controlled” to reassure Mare that she won’t be murdered by a rampaging Silver. Since refusing a royal summons would mean death for the whole family, Mare acquiesces, letting go of Gisa’s hand. “[Gisa] moves to grab on to me, but our mother pulls her back. ‘I’ll see you later?’” What is going on with this paragraphing neglect in relation to dialogue/actions? The last person mentioned is Momma Mare, so thanks to the lack of paragraphing skills demonstrated, she could be the one who’s saying that line of dialogue, but I’m positive it’s supposed to be Mare.
Anyway, the question lingers, and Pappy Mare brushes Mare’s arm. “He’s saying good-bye.”
Italic Abuse: 59
Momma Mare’s near tears and Gisa’s trying not to blink so she can see as much of the last moments of Mare as possible, and Mare thinks, “I don’t even have something I can leave her.”
Italic Abuse: 60
Dammit, they robbed her of the Barrow family tradition. I actually liked that! How dare they?
Anyway, a guard breaks the Barrows up and Mare manages a whispered “‘I love you’” before the door slams shut.
They drag her through the village and the party passes by Kilorn’s house. Mare bets that he’s sleeping in because he’s got to take comfort where he can find it now that he’s going to be conscripted. Mare wants to say goodbye to Kilorn but doesn’t — he’ll find out in due time. She adds, “With a silent laugh I remember that Farley is a goddamn idiot will be expecting me today, with a fortune in payment. She’ll be disappointed.” Farley is obviously a saboteur working to bring down the Scarlet Guard. That’s the only way (other than ‘she’s an IDIOT’) that I can make sense of her poor business sense and bad rebel skills and problems with secret-keeping.
There’s a car that frightens Mare with its appearance waiting for them, and almost as soon as Mare and the servant get in, the Silver driver starts it. They drive quickly. Mare thinks, “This will be my first — and last — time riding in one.”
Italic Abuse: 61
Mare wants to ask questions but doesn’t. I thought her curiosity always got the better of her? Instead of letting that unstoppable curiosity flow, Mare looks out the window. They approach the diamondglass, a name I will never ever stop hating, and it is shiny! “I want to squint,” Mare tells us, “but I keep myself still. I must keep my eyes open here.”
1. to look with the eyes partly closed.
2. Ophthalmology. to be affected with strabismus; be cross-eyed.
3. to look or glance obliquely or sidewise; look askance.
4. to make or have an indirect reference to or bearing on; tend or incline toward (usually followed by toward, at, etc.).”
“Simple Definition of SQUINT: to look at something with your eyes partly closed; to cause (your eyes) to partly close; to have a medical condition that makes your eyes unable to look in the same direction
Full Definition of SQUINT
- a : to have an indirect bearing, reference, or aim
b : to deviate from a true line
2. a : to look in a squint-eyed manner
b : to be cross-eyed
c : to look or peer with eyes partly closed”
So squinting won’t actually make your eyes close, Mare, unless you squint in a really unusual fashion and if you do I’ll be forced to give out a Mare, the Super Rare point. Again: words can and sometimes should be used outside of the strict confines of their definition, but this was so…visible. (Haha, pun.) Also, ‘squint’ no longer looks like a real word to me, so thanks a lot, book.
So at the gate nobody looks at IDs, then they get inside and the woman introduces herself as Ann, but asks that Mare call her by her last name, Walsh. The mismatched mishmash of the names is giving me such a headache.
To annoy me more, Mare thinks, “Walsh.”
Italic Abuse: 62
Apparently Mare knows that name, and it turns out that Walsh is from the Stilts, too. She knew Tramy and Bree, the latter of which had a reputation as a heartbreaker. She says she doesn’t know Mare but will, which Mare bristles at. Walsh explains that Mare will be working long hours and gets poetic about their job: “‘You have to look without seeing, hear without listening.’” It’s reiterated that now is not a great time for Reds.
Walsh starts down a flight of stairs into the darkness and Mare is all, ‘what job?’ Walsh explains that Mare’s been called to fill a serving post. Mare reacts as follows: “Working. A job. I almost fall over at the thought.”
Italic Abuse: 63
“Cal. He said he had a good job — and now he’s pulled some strings to do the same for me.” That’s nice of him. The ‘G’ in his old name, VCSGB, was accurate.
Italic Abuse: 64
Mare continues: “My heart leaps at the prospect, knowing what this means. I’m not going to die, I’m not even going to fight. I’m going to work and I’m going to live. And later, when I find Cal, I can convince him to do the same for Kilorn.”
Italic Abuse: 67
Gave it three because that was quite long. And it was kind of handholdy, which continues to annoy me. Also, my guess last chapter — that Kilorn would be basically forgotten — is wrong! Thank goodness. Good job, book. It’s not a high standard, but so many books fail to hit it and I’m glad you did.
“‘Keep up, I don’t have time to hold your hand!’” Walsh says, which if interpreted as meta is hilariously inaccurate. Anyway, Mare follows, describing the tunnel as having tiny lights on the walls and being below pipes that hum with water and electricity.
Mare asks where to and Walsh says they’re going to the Hall of the Sun. Then she says “‘You serve the king now’” and this line is followed with a scene break, which makes me think it’s supposed to be a wham line. It’s not. Walsh said it was a royal summons pages ago, so who else would Mare work for, House Welle?
Right, so. Scene break!
Next scene opens with Mare wearing her new uniform and being dazzled by her surroundings. There are other servants bustling around and Mare looks for Cal to thank him, but can’t find him. Walsh gives advice: “‘Say nothing. Hear nothing. Speak to no one, for they will not speak to you.’” …Book, one page ago Walsh told Mare “you have to hear without listening” (emphasis mine). This inconsistency is irritating. Anyway, Mare has trouble keeping up with all the advice because it’s completely in conflict with what had been said earlier been a hell of a couple days.
Walsh says Mare came on a pretty busy day, and Mare agrees, saying that she’s seen Silvers heading upriver for weeks. Walsh doesn’t reply to that, instead handing Mare “a tray of glittering cups” that “can buy [Mare’s] freedom and Kilorn’s, but the Hall is guarded at every door and window.” I like that, even though Mare knows that the job=freedom and even though she’s assuming that she’ll be able to get Kilorn a job, too, she’s still falling into old habits. After all, she’s been here all of ten minutes.
Mare asks what’s going on, and a “lock of [her] dark hair falls in [her] eyes” wait you said her hair was ombréd-grey and river brown, book, what is this? Her hair has TWO colours. It’s not dark.
Before Mare can brush back the amazing colour-changing hair, Walsh fixes it with a small pin. Again, Mare’s line of dialogue is attached to Walsh’s actions and I hate it. Did the formatting team (…are there formatting teams?) just skip this chapter?
Mare asks if that was a stupid question and Walsh assures her that she (Walsh) didn’t know about it either, and that it makes sense that Mare wouldn’t know either since it’s been twenty years since Queen Elara was chosen. Chosen, Walsh says, from Queenstrial, which I gather is a pageant to choose a girl from the “‘High Houses” for the prince to marry. Wow.
This makes Mare think of peacocks — wait, where would she have seen peacocks or artistic representations of such before? — and says, “‘So, what, they do a spin, say a few words, bat their eyelashes?’”
Walsh startles me and Mare away from our presumptions with a snort and a “‘Hardly.’” Then she ushers Mare on to join a line of Reds going through a door, and Mare is, understandably, desperate to know if Walsh is coming. She’s not and leaves Mare without a goodbye, but Mare carries on “into the sunlight of what [Walsh] called the Spiral Garden.”
There’s a pretty description of the Spiral Garden — it’s basically a bowl-shaped place that spirals down into an arena — which is followed by Mare thinking, “What in hell is this place?”
Italic Abuse: 68
The Spiral Garden gives Mare a sense of foreboding as she works at her new job as kitchen server. When she’s done, Queenstrial is beginning. The other servants move to spots where they won’t really be noticed and Mare follows suit, thinking, “It’s starting.”
Italic Abuse: 69
Mare remembers the debacle in the market yesterday and thinks that “they [the Silvers here] might even be worse.”
Italic Abuse: 70
The Silver houses start filing in, and Mare wonders “[j]ust how many houses are there?”
Italic Abuse: 71
Was the book saving it all up for this chapter? Anyway, some of these houses aren’t really serious about Queenstrial — Mare infers that they know they have little hope of winning, so they’re treating it as a vacation. But others are pretty serious: there’s a “silver-haired family in black silk” whose “patriarch of the house has a pointed beard and black eyes.” Another family, decked in white and blue, is solemn, too, and among them is Samson Merandus! Hi again, Samson. I wonder if Cantos is okay. If a Silver kills a Silver in sport, is that illegal?
Weirdly, there are no girls of marrying age, so Mare guesses that they’re elsewhere, preparing.
Sometimes a Silver will press a button to ask for a servant and then the rest of the servants will shuffle up in line to wait their turn. When Mare goes up, “the wretched black-eyed patriarch slaps the button on his table.” It’s strange that she’s describing him as wretched, because the first time she noticed him she was indifferent, just listing attributes. What changed between these three paragraphs? Nothing. Seems to be another case of the author forgetting that Mare doesn’t know everything the author does.
Mare goes to the patriarch, weaving through the crowd, reflecting that she’s now serving these people rather than stealing from them. “The Mare Barrow of last week wouldn’t know whether to laugh or cry at this version of herself. But she was a foolish girl, and now I pay the price.”
Italic Abuse: 72
Fooling Around: 11
She addresses the patriarch then chastises herself because “Say nothing is the first rule, and [she] ha[s] already broken it.” The patriarch doesn’t care, though, and only holds up his empty glass. He whines to the young man beside him: “‘They’re toying with us, Ptolemus,’” and Mare both handholds us and shows a stunning lack of self-awareness in the following sentence: “I assume he [the young man the patriarch addressed as Ptolemus] is the one unfortunate enough to be called Ptolemus.” This is hilarious, yet painful.
Ptolemus says that it’s just a demonstration of power, that the royals are making them wait. Mare is surprised that Silvers are talking so disdainfully of one another, that that’s the Reds’ prerogative. “These people have never suffered a day in their lives.” I get what you’re saying but also: Cantos Carros. “What problems could they possibly have with each other?” I bet that Cantos Carros has some problems with Samson.
Mare wants to stay and listen because of that curiosity that always gets the best of her, but doesn’t because shockingly this time it doesn’t get the best of her (I know! I was stunned too), instead going to fill the cups. Then a peal rings out just like on First Friday and the High Houses get to their feet. Ptolemus mutters something to Pappy Ptolemus.
From where Mare stands she’s level with the king’s box. She ruminates on this: “This man sends us to die, and I’ve willingly become his servant. It makes me sick.” ‘Willingly’? Didn’t you say earlier this chapter that refusing the summons would be a death sentence, for you and your family alike, and that you meant to get Kilorn in on this too? Do you not remember that you didn’t really have a choice? Like, I understand how she feels here and it makes sense but for the ‘willingly’.
The king arrives. He is fatter and taller than he looks on TV and on the coins of the flaming crowns. He wears what appear to be military pins and badges, which Mare doesn’t miss the ridiculousness of, and he holds a gilded sword. On his head is a crown “made of twisted red gold and black iron, each point a burst of curling flame.” Ohhhhhh I get it now. I’d been thinking that the entire crown was on fire and that that would look pretty stupid, but this is actually cool. The crown suits him, Mare tells us, because he is a “burner” (or you could just use the word ‘pyrokinetic’ because ‘burner’ sounds like a lame synonym for ‘arsonist’ but whatever keep the consistency of your ugly names it’s cool it’s fine it’s wonderful) like his forefathers. Kings used to burn dissenters (yikes) but not this one, because he’d rather kill Reds via war. Mare says “His name is one I’ve known since I was a little girl sitting in the schoolroom, still eager to learn, as if it could get me somewhere. Tiberias Calore the Sixth, King of Norta, Flame of the North.”
- So back to the chapter one discussion of education for Reds…it seems that the government does sanction and perhaps even pay for their education, not to mention outline parts of the curriculum. So why so much illiteracy and so little indoctrination and propaganda? You are a terrible oppressive government, House Calore.
- As for the name of their kingdom, ‘Norta’ – there are some interesting implications here. Was it named thus because originally (so to speak) it was conquered by people from the south? Because it’s only north relative to someone else; in naming one’s own kingdom, one usually does so thinking they are center and that everyone else is ‘north of’ or ‘south of’ etc. them. Think of our own maps in the real world: when Europe went around wrecking everything back in the day, their mapmakers decided that the half of the planet that is the ‘top’ (i.e. ‘best’) contains Europe, even though the Earth is a sphere floating around in space. They didn’t look at Africa and go, “Well, we’re north of them, ergo we should be called Northville because they are the reference point.” Point is: WORLDBUILDING YAY! That or I’m putting too much thought into this.
Anyway. Mare says she’d spit on the name (Tiberias’) if she could, then the queen appears! She’s dressed in airy clothes that are the same colour of the Merandus family’s, and Mare notes that they share a physical resemblance: “ash-blond hair, blue eyes, and pointed smile, making [the queen] look like a wild, predatory cat.”
Even though the royals are intimidating, their guards — capital-S “Sentinels” because why not — are more so. They are all wearing Katniss’ clothes: “their uniforms look like flame, flickering between red and orange.” They carry rifles, and Mare reiterates that they’re scary, though not to the High Houses.
Randomly someone shouts “‘Death to the Scarlet Guard!’” That…really came out of nowhere. The king is as surprised as I am but shouts that the Scarlet Guard situation is under control, and that being off-topic is weird because today is Queenstrial, something to find strength and power in!
The crowd is assuaged and so the king presents his sons, whom Mare describes as tall and black-haired and decked in military regalia. She can’t see their faces, though. The first prince is introduced: “‘The Prince Maven, of House Calore and Merandus, son of my royal wife, the Queen Elara’” who is “paler and slighter than the other [prince.]” Mare catches a glimpse of his face: he’s seventeenish, regal, and serious. Also, “[s]harp-featured and blue-eyed, he could freeze fire with his smile — he despises this pageantry. I have to agree with him.” Love interest alert!!! Also, either Mare already knows him too well unrealistically (how many times has she seen him smile, that she can differentiate between an ‘I’m bored with this’ smile, a genuine smile, and a ‘Golly, I sure do hate this pageantry!’ smile?) or Maven has a terrible poker face and thus is pissing off the High Houses and ergo needs to learn to fake it ’til he makes it because does he want to incite a coup? (I’m banking on number two.)
The second prince is introduced: “‘And the crown prince of House Calore and Jacos, son of my late wife, the Queen Coriane, heir to the Kingdom of Norta and the Burning Crown, Tiberias the Seventh.’
[Mare’s] too busy laughing at the sheer absurdity of the name to notice the young man waving and smiling” oh that is rich coming from you, Mare, especially considering your brothers are named Shady AF and Tramy (???what is that what) and your little sister is Golly Gee How Can This Be. That’s rich. Book, please learn self-awareness.
Mare stops laughing hypocritically and looks up and is absolutely shocked, so much so that the goblets she was supposed to fill fall into the sink. Why is she shocked, you ask? Well, “I know that smile, and I know those eyes. They burned into mine only last night. He got me this job; he saved me from conscription. He was one of us. How can this be?”
Italic Abuse: 73
Also, “burned”, very clever there, book. I guess that’s what the hot hands and eyes the colour of warmth (still a stupid metaphor, though) were all about.
The chapter ends as follows: “And then he turns fully, waving all around. There’s no mistaking it.
The crown prince is Cal.”
Italic Abuse: 74
ITALIC ABUSE: 74
MARE, THE SUPER RARE: 8
FOOLING AROUND: 11