Last time, my dislike of C.A.L. grows and Mare goes home. This time, Gisa’s decided to head down, and she is not pleased about Momma Mare’s ‘we’re so lucky!’ assessment.
Mare gives us a little detail I really like: “[…][Gisa’s] splint is wrapped in colored cloth. With a pang of sadness, I realize it’s a piece of her beautiful embroidery that will never be finished.”
Aw, Gisa, you deserved better.
Mare tries to hug her but Gisa pulls back (ooh), asking who C.A.L. is. C.A.L. tells the Barrows he’s a fellow servant from Harbor Bay and hints at Mare having to leave with the royals later, then SUDDENLY BREE: “‘I think I’ve got a pretty good idea what’s going on,’ Bree growls, face-to-face with Cal.[…] I liked the Warren boy better[.]’”
Bree! Why! I liked you and now you’re being an annoying ‘overprotective brother’ stereotype on literally no evidence whatsoever. Also, you’re a hypocrite. You’re allegedly this big womanizer who left a trail of broken hearts behind you when you were conscripted, but you get pissed with Mare’s potential suitors? Shut up.
(I cannot believe I have to defend C.A.L. Goddammit, Bree.)
Mare snaps that sentiment at him, upsetting Momma Mare. “She’s forgetting you. That’s why she wants you to stay. So she doesn’t forget.”
Italic Abuse: 185
Mare hugs Momma Mare to stop her from tearing up, but the whole mood’s shifted and Mare speaks the wham line of the chapter: “‘Where’s Shade?’”
The Barrows fall apart and Gisa eventually explains Shade died before the discharge came. Mare is anguished and wants to destroy something, “to pour [her] rage and sorrow into a single bolt of biting power”. There are a couple of these:
Italic Abuse: 187
Gisa, fighting back tears, elaborates. Shade tried to run away and was beheaded. The news makes Mare grow closer to losing control over her lightning, and C.A.L. tries to steady her, but the thought of Shade dying makes that impossible, especially because of her suspicions: “It’s a lie. He didn’t run. He was in the Guard. And they found out. They killed him for it. They murdered him.”
Italic Abuse: 188
All of the electronic devices in the house start malfunctioning as Mare loses more control. Cal tries to calm her, but she prefers feeling dangerous rather than sad, so she doesn’t, and the light-bulbs explode. Then “[s]omeone pulls me to my feet with rough strength. Their hands go to my face, holding me still as they speak. Not to comfort me, not to empathize, but to snap me out of it. I would know that voice anywhere.
‘Mare, pull yourself together!’”
Italic Abuse: 189
Maybe, book, put the dialogue – that is, the ‘voice’ – first, so that Mare can actually hear the voice before she recognizes it. The cause and effect’s all mixed-up here.
Anyway, it’s Kilorn! He manages to calm her down and bring her back. The house is dark but for a lone light bulb and Mare’s lightning racing up her arms. “I won’t be able to lie my way out of this one.”
Italic Abuse: 190
Kilorn demands what the Silvers did to her, pulling her to a chair as the sparks fade away entirely. She isn’t sure if she’s allowed to explain, but then she “look[s] over Kilorn’s head, meeting Cal’s eyes.[…][Cal] nods.” Isn’t Kilorn taller than Mare? And unless she’s in a high-chair or he’s kneeling, both of which go unmentioned if they’re the case, wouldn’t she be yet shorter?
Italic Abuse: 192
Mare tells Kilorn the Silvers aren’t to blame, and Kilorn is disgusted with Mare, demanding if she’s one of them. Momma Mare steps up to defend Mare, as do the other Barrows, but Kilorn remains unconvinced. Mare says a line I really like: “‘Give me a knife and I’ll settle this right now[…]I’ll show you what color I bleed.’”
Of course, this line brings up the shittiness of the royals’ plan yet again, because as I mentioned in Chapter 12, some noble would ask if Mare had never bled (thus proving her Silver heredity) before coming to the palace.
Kilorn calms down at Mare’s words, saying he doesn’t understand, and Mare observes “That makes two of us.”
Italic Abuse: 193
So Mare explains. Kilorn’s bristling, but Momma Mare tries to be positive about it, asking what Maven’s like.
Italic Abuse: 194
“I can feel Cal listening, waiting to hear what I have to say about his younger brother. What can I say? That he’s kind? That I’m beginning to like him? That I still don’t know if I can trust him? Or worse, that I can never trust anyone again?”
Italic Abuse: 196
Two points for being long and because the Maven disparity will forever and always piss me off.
Gisa turns the attention on C.A.L., asking if he’s her bodyguard. C.A.L. answers yes and says he and Mare have to leave soon. Mare’s family swears to say nothing about the situation, “[b]ut Kilorn’s face falls into a dark scowl. For some reason, he’s become so angry and I can’t for the life of me say why. But I’m angry too.”
Italic Abuse: 197
Mare prods him and Kilorn snaps that he’ll say nothing, then leaves in a huff. I sense that I’m going to find Kilorn very annoying very soon. Gisa says Mare shouldn’t waste this opportunity, and the other Barrows say goodbye again, hoping that Mare’ll get to visit again. She lies, saying that she’ll try. Also, one instance of
Italic Abuse: 198
Mare reflects on what Gisa said, about the lack of blame, and again I’m screaming about the inherent interestingness of the Barrow family relations over the stupid prince love triangle.
Mare tells Cal she has an errand to run and after a moment’s hesitation, he acquiesces.
Next scene opens with Mare back in Will Whistle’s cart. They discuss Mare’s princessdom – apparently Will knows about it – another character (Tristan, a member of the Scarlet Guard) is introduced, Evangeline gets insulted because she’s the BITCHIEST BITCH TO EVER BITCH THROUGH THE BITCH-O-SPHERE (“‘[…]a bloodthirsty jerk’” to quote Mare), Tristan finds out C.A.L. is in the woods and: “‘You brought a Silver here?’ he hisses down at [Mare]. ‘The prince? Do you know what we could do if we took him in? What we could bargain for?’”
Mare defends C.A.L. (why. Let him be taken for ransom. Please that’s my one Christmas wish). When Tristan essentially says she’s a traitor for protecting C.A.L., Mare tells him he’s a “‘stupid fool’” –
Fooling Around: 16
– and that C.A.L. could burn down the Stilts without breaking a sweat. “Not that he would. I hope.”
Italic Abuse: 199
Tristan doesn’t care about C.A.L.’s prowess and doesn’t back down until Will makes him. Even so, Mare’s worried: “He just threatened to kidnap Cal and hold him for ransom. And for whatever reason, the thought of such a thing unsettles me to my core.”
Okay so I know the ‘for whatever reason’ thing is to indicate Mare’s inevitable/insensible crush on C.A.L. but really, book, her being unsettled at kidnapping just indicates she has basic empathy. Don’t go thinking it’s some ~*true love*~ thing.
Mare explains why she’s here: Shade’s death and her new position make her want to fight for the cause. Tristan is just thrilled to bits, as is Will, although the latter warns Mare that she’d better be serious. He asks her if Mare’s with them, and Mare remembers C.A.L.’s condescending speech about how Red inequality is safe and wonderful and sometimes sacrifices just have to be made, Mare, not that you’d get it. “But there’s a chance he’s wrong. There’s a chance we can change it.”
Italic Abuse: 200
“In the flickering candlelight, our shadows look like monsters on the walls.”
Real subtle, book. Though I guess in terms of Red Queen that is actually pretty subtle. At least Mare’s not spelling things out for us.
Mare is feeling a bit better after being proactive and true to Shade’s memory. C.A.L. doesn’t ask questions and doesn’t even stare at her (will wonders never cease), and Mare wonders if it’s a military tactic, making the enemy come to you. “Because that’s what I am now. His enemy.”
Italic Abuse: 201
I’ve been C.A.L.’s enemy practically since his debut, Mare, glad you’re catching up.
Mare talks about how the princes’ kindness confuses her, which confuses me. A few pages ago, Mare learns that Shade is dead, died before he was saved from conscription – but makes no connection with C.A.L. the warmonger-in-training, or with the fact that Silvers of a monarchy like C.A.L. and Maven’s regime are the ones who a) started the war, b) sent Shade to it, against his will, and c) made Shade seek out methods of mitigating the damage, that is the Scarlet Guard, which the crown killed Shade for joining. And now she’s going on about how weirdly kind and sweet and lovely C.A.L. and Maven are? Wtf, book – shouldn’t she at least be a little bit conflicted about that? Mare’s actions don’t align with her thoughts – she joins the Scarlet Guard in direct defiance of everything C.A.L. is and stands for and defended (defended an hour ago at most), but goes on thinking ‘omg omg the princes are so nice to me’.
It’s inconsistent. Which I would appreciate if it were meant to make Mare more complex – she doesn’t have to notice she’s being inconsistent. People often don’t, so it’s a realistic characterization. But the narrative should notice what she’s doing, and I don’t see it doing that.
Anyway the ‘omg niceness’ of C.A.L. and Prince Younger Prince makes Mare think: “They are strange boys.”
Italic Abuse: 202
The pair enters the woods, and C.A.L. says he’ll have to get the queen to change Mare’s schedule because her loss of control back in the Barrow Burrow was worrying. Mare thinks “Julian is training me” –
Italic Abuse: 203
– but agrees, knowing that having control over her lightning would definitely be helpful to the Scarlet Guard.
C.A.L.’s hands go all flamey because SUDDENLY KILORN: “He inclines his head in a condescending bow. ‘Excuse me, Your Highness.’”
HOW DO YOU LIKE BEING CONDESCENDED TO, C.A.L.? HAVING A GOOD TIME???
C.A.L. doesn’t reply because he can dish it out but can’t take it, and he goes back to uncovering his cycle. “But I can feel his eyes on me, watching every second that passes between Kilorn and me.”
Creeping Tom: 9
New count, hooray!!! Creeping Tom is specifically for when C.A.L. is invading Mare’s personal space for no reason/looking her up and down – staring into her eyes, as he did a few chapters ago, doesn’t count.
Anyway. Kilorn is still a bit in disbelief about Mare’s ‘choice’ to stay with the Silvers. “This is not a choice, [Mare] wants to tell him” but doesn’t, instead opting to lie and say “‘I’m where I’m supposed to be.’”
Mmmmmmm nah. Kilorn’s disbelief makes sense – he learned very shortly ago that Mare is not what he thought she was, or even something he (or she) can understand, so the truth not quite sticking yet despite logic/evidence is fair and believable. Mare lying, on the other hand, doesn’t fit well. “This is not a choice” shouldn’t be something she wants to say but doesn’t, it should be something that she is saying to get it through Kilorn’s head. She’s already told the truth; there’s nothing to hide. To say what she wants, then, is just a reinforcement of knowledge Kilorn already has.
Kilorn protests Mare is supposed to be in the Stilts, and C.A.L. reminds Mare they have to go. Mare tries to push past Kilorn, although halfheartedly – “[…]as much as I want to let him hold on to me, it just can’t be” – and Kilorn is starting to beg when C.A.L. throws some heat at them. He orders Kilorn to let Mare go (oh my god. Oh my god I really hate you, C.A.L. I hate you so much), and he’s still letting off heat. Kilorn, not wanting to be burned to death by goddamn C.A.L. just for trying to prolong the possible last encounter he’ll have with his best friend, backs off, “letting his fingers trail along [Mare’s] arm.
[…]The air cools, but Cal doesn’t step back. [Mare’s] his brother’s betrothed – he has to be protective of [her].”
- I actually find this really sad. Mare notes explicitly that “This might be the last time [they] see each other” and Kilorn’s actions and dialogue show he knows this, too. But C.A.L. has the power to decide, at least in part, how this final parting will go. And what does he choose to do? He threatens and exercises both his political and physical power over Kilorn to shorten the goodbye. Not for time management, no, and certainly not to protect Mare – Mare could kill Kilorn in an instant and all present parties are aware of this – but because of petty jealousy. C.A.L. is essentially telling Kilorn ‘Your time with Mare is done, and if you protest I’ll threaten you into compliance, because I like her now so you’re something to be dealt with as I see fit.’
- That red-herringy aside isn’t cute, book. “I’m his brother’s betrothed – he has to be be protective of me” is just Mare turning to the camera and yelling ‘NOTHING TO SEE HERE FOLKS C.A.L.’S NOT DOING THIS OUT OF PERSONAL INTEREST IT’S ALL FOR MAVEN’. The not-coyness is so juvenile and in-your-face; it’s like the book’s trying to avoid telling-not-showing that C.A.L.’s into Mare…by telling-not-showing that C.A.L.’s not. Also, I’m a bit annoyed that Mare’s not just in a love triangle but has three guys vying for her affection – it’s excessive even for YA lit. Last time I saw something like this was Twilight (four, iirc), and even though this makes more sense since Mare’s personality isn’t repulsive like Bella’s, I’m giving it a point anyway.
Mare, the Super Rare: 16
Kilorn realizes Mare bargained for his freedom from conscription and says “‘You have a bad habit of trying to save me.’”
Mare “can barely nod” and is about to cry, though she hides that by putting on her helmet. (Now’d be a good time to give them five minutes, C.A.L. You won’t, being an asshole, but still, had to ask.) C.A.L. revs the engine and Kilorn flinches and backs away, then smirks and says he’ll greet Farley for Mare.
As Mare and C.A.L. ride off, Mare’s paralyzed with fear for Kilorn because “He’s going to find Farley. And he’s going to join her.”
Italic Abuse: 204
And that line concludes the chapter.
So. On the one hand, way to waste Mare’s efforts, Kilorn – now the Silvers will just kill you for different reasons. On the other hand, I get it. Kilorn’s apprenticeship is gone, his best friend and business partner is out of commission, and without the threat of fighting his future may be safer, but it’s also empty. I also like this because you can see Mare and Kilorn thinking alike, as friends who’ve known each other long enough tend to do: both of them joined the Scarlet Guard in this chapter, within an hour(ish) of one another.
ITALIC ABUSE: 204
MARE, THE SUPER RARE: 16
FOOLING AROUND: 16
CREEPING TOM: 9
ON TO CHAPTER 15