Nolan ponders the previous day’s events during his history test, particularly disturbed by the fact that Jorn and Minister Ruudde appear to be aware that someone (ie Nolan) is causing Amara’s blackouts. This is understandably unsettling, since up to this point the connection between Nolan and the Dunelands has been entirely one-way; you could almost imagine Nolan still regarding the place as imaginary up to this point.
Nolan freaks out a bit and stumbles out of class, deciding to find some way to make contact with Amara.
He stumbled into the hallway and shut the door behind him, muffling Ms. Suarez’s voice. She wouldn’t follow him. She’d tell the principal, who’d contact his parents, who’d say he had a seizure, and that was that.
In a lesser book Nolan would either refuse to use his disability to get away with skipping class, or feel guilty about it, or the narrative would in some way condemn him for it. I like how here he just does it and it’s no big deal because, well…. fair enough. His “seizures” make him completely miserable most of the time, he might as well get something positive out of the situation.
Meanwhile, Amara is also unsettled.
She honed in on what she did understand: that Jorn knew about her blackouts, and that if
they continued, he’d bring her back to Bedam. They were close. It’d only take hours.
And what would happen there?
PROBABLY NOTHING GOOD
Nolan tries to move Amara again but isn’t able to. One of his classmates comes out and Nolan tries to keep up the pretense that he has epilepsy instead of being OTHERBOUND.
Whenever people made rare, awkward attempts at small talk, they avoided mentioning the seizures or his leg. Sarah didn’t seem bothered. She didn’t even seem curious, like some of the freshmen who sometimes walked up and gaped; she seemed interested.
Has a love interest appeared????
The thought should excite him or bother him—he didn’t know which. He felt neither. That bothered him.
Well maybe not.
Later, Nolan is visiting his doctor and tries to convince her that the pills aren’t doing anything and he should stop taking them.
Why the blackouts now? What had changed?
Two doses too close together. That was what had changed.
This…. isn’t going in a positive direction.
Nolan had swallowed a pill at lunch, just an hour ago. The moment he stepped out of the doctor’s office, a grin growing on his face, he slung his backpack around to his front and hunted for another.
Nolan, man, I’ve got a movie you should watch:
Meanwhile, Amara is going to tell Maart about the THRILLING REVELATION she overheard.
No one took this path, Jorn had said, not now that Teschel was one of the few islands with an airtrain.
An airtrain. I want to find out what one of those is.
The storm had been brief but intense, as backlash always was. A punishment from the spirits, some people said, for abusing their power. Others said the spirits simply put the world back in balance after mages knocked it down and drained it dry.
I kind of find myself rolling my eyes a bit any time the magic system comes up. I’m not entirely sure why; the magic itself is quite interesting and kind of spooky at times, but maybe I just have an unfair bias toward magic system world-building. It’s certainly nowhere near as pointlessly convoluted as Rothfuss and his magic tethers, that’s for sure.
“Mar?” she called aloud once near the creek.
I like how Duyvis seems to have thought through which syllables you could pronounce without a tongue. Go ahead, try it!
Predictably Maart reacts badly because he’s a big stupid doo-doo head and gets all jealous (not without reason, to be fair).
“It’s not about putting her on the throne. There’s nowhere we can go.”
“Is that all it is?”
“Just say it,” Amara said. Then she wouldn’t be the one to bring it up. She could deny it and be done with it.
“I see how Cilla looks at you.”
How—how Cilla looked at her?
Amara I think Cilla wants some of your healing touch, if you know what I mean
Also she wants to have sex with you
Maart insists they try and run away together and Amara mentally tip-toes around the fact that she doesn’t want to leave Cilla behind. Before any resolution is reached Jorn shows up to spoil everyone’s day.
“Amara. I felt an intrusion. It’s probably just a mage dealing with damage from the backlash, but we should be sure. Go check.”
“Hey Amara go off on your own for a bit all of a sudden just after overhearing me detailing my shady plans!”
I am suspicious about Jorn’s intentions.
This wasn’t right. They each had their tasks, and this wasn’t hers.
Amara heads off, speculating that Jorn no longer trusts her due to her blackouts. But suddenly! A mysterious woman!
(I like how, like, stuff is always happening in this book)
Peering past a tree, Amara spotted the woman. She was eaning forward, both hands on a slab of polished stone held up by blocks of rock on each side. Underneath the rock lay a
small, still pond, perhaps the size of a table.
A temple. An old one, judging by the dirt-brown moss creeping across the rocks, but a temple nonetheless.
It turns out the mage was just cleaning up after the storm (which was caused by magical backlash or something). Amara impulsively decides to follow the woman, to try asking her about the blackouts. Running up to a total stranger for information doesn’t seem too smart, but I guess Amara is desperate.
The woman leads her to one of those airtrains we heard about earlier, which disappointingly seems to travel on rails like an ordinary train instead of flying. It’s been struck by lightning during the storm. The mage spots Amara, and then we get a highly interesting Clue:
“A spirit. You’re a spirit.” The mage stepped from the train.
The earth squelched underfoot.
The mage went on. “No. You used to be? Were you possessed
by one? But there’s still . . . There’s a presence . . .”
A presence. Ruudde’s words echoed: Whoever’s causing this
will catch on and try again.
In other words, the mage appears to mistake Nolan’s presence for that of a spirit. Are the spirits actually people form our world, somehow interacting with the Dunelands? Is Nolan the “spirit” that was used to create Amara’s wolverine healing factor? We know she was enchanted at a young age, at least before seven, and Nolan has likewise been suffering from his visions ever since he was very young so it fits chronologically.
Amara realizes that if she uses sign language the mage will realize she’s a former palace servant and runs, berating herself for her stupidity. But then she goes to the temple that the mage was using a minute ago, getting an idea for how to communicate with her.
She’d always thought that if she prayed at a true temple,
perhaps the spirits would forgive Jorn’s magic use and prevent
accidents like the airtrain’s.
So the spirits flip their shit after someone uses magic and cause storms that can lead to massive damage. Going under the “spirits are people” hypothesis, how would we explain this? Nolan is enchanting Amara and can control her to a limited degree; maybe if the elements are enchanted (to shoot fireballs and stuff) the human “spirit” used for the spell gains control over them and lashes out senselessly, causing damage? Just think about it, if Nolan experiences Amara’s senses than maybe a human used to enchant, say, a rock would “feel” the rock, and might therefore have absolutely no idea what was going on.
Amara writes a basic message to the mage on the temple, asking to meet her at the market the next day. And with that our chapter of intrigue ends.