I’ve said many, many times that my favorite thing about tamorapierce's “Circle of Magic” universe is the fact that these four isolated children have magic quite unsuited to their stations. Class is the barrier that seems most prevalent in their world (because sexism is incredibly limited, given how many women of power we see as judges, caravan leaders, dedicates, rulers, etc.) and here we’re shown a street rat, who has no property or gardens, being gifted with plant magic. The noble who would never weave her own cloth is a stitch witch. The Traders are known for trading, not creating – and the only magic they appreciate is weather-magic to promote successful travels, but the Trader-girl has the ability to magically metal-smith. Meanwhile the merchant girl, whose family seems to value everything on its marketability, has power with weather. Everything is out of place, and in losing their backgrounds (two are orphaned, one is abandoned, one is rescued from a short life of prison labor) they are able to find who they truly are. This is my favorite kind of self-discovery book – where the possibilities are endless, once the door is opened to them.
However, let’s take a look at what could’ve been. I love the idea of switching Sandry’s and Briar’s magic, and Tris’s and Daja’s. Just to see what could have happened.
What if Daja had been the weather mage? She would live with the Traders training as a mimander, possibly saving her family from the storm that sank Third Ship Kisubo. The Kisubo clan could have become one of the most powerful among Traders, if Daja had born Tris’s magic. I can see her being enchanted with Runog’s Fire, I could see the electricity running through her veins making her hot with impatience in dealing with kaqs, and her love of her family making her occasionally ruthless when dealing with war magic and the pirates who raid the seas.
Nobles shouldn’t sew, certainly, but what if Sandry had Briar’s plant magic? It wouldn’t have saved her parents, but maybe she would’ve shown an affinity for her gardener-cousin, the empress of Namorn. Would Sandry have lived her life preferring her ties to Namorn rather than Emelan? Would she have submitted to her cousin’s rules of court life, and been a pawn in the Narmornese court, or would Sandry’s stubbornness manifested in ways that were dangerous to her? Would anyone have been able to train her?
Tris is cast aside because she offers nothing to her merchant family. But what would they think of a girl who was drawn to metal smithing, who could manufacture trinkets or jewelry or metal toys that could be sold throughout the Pebbled Sea? Tris would still have her intellectual mind… I see her making clockwork toys that dazzle the world, bringing in plenty of money for House Chandler. Would Tris be a different person, were she not denied love? Would her temper be the same without lightning being born in her hair?
And Briar… he lost his family when he was young, and would still likely have a life of crime. But I imagine snatching purses and running away from the law enforcers would be easier if you can tangle people up in their own threads. And a belt-purse made of cloth could easily develop magical holes allowing a coin or two or more to gradually slip out. There are plenty of things a clever, street-smart thread mage could conjure. Perhaps he would’ve gotten away with more, with no pesky plants in nobles’ gardens holding onto him. Who would he have become without Rosethorn to smooth out his sharp edges? (and who might Rosethorn have become – or remained – without Briar under her wing?) And what about the fact that Sandry can weave pure magic? If Briar had that, would he have been able to deal with magical locks and spells in ways no other thief could?
I wonder if this mismatched magic and lifestyle was all deliberate decision-making on Tammy’s part, or if things just fell into place on their own when she was creating it. I love this series because it makes me think and wonder so very much. My heart belonged to Tortall first, like many Pierce fans, but the Circleverse is where I’d rather live.
Rating (art/fic if different): G/NC-17
Word Count: 17,000
Warnings: social discrimination, segregated society, references to mild depression, mentions of poverty
Fic Summary: Relationships with the Winged are as close to illegal as can be, but when Kurt Hummel hires Blaine Anderson to walk in his runway show, neither can deny their instant chemistry. Soon what started as furtive motel trysts becomes more complicated as their feelings deepen, threatening Kurt’s rising career. In an effort to hold on to what they have, Kurt offers Blaine an interlude: a trip somewhere in the world where they can be together without fear, even if only for a few weeks.
Notes: I am so indebted to the incredibly talented Magicalplaylist for this art. If you had bet me a million dollars a year ago (well maybe a thousand), I would have claimed I’d never write a wingfic! It’s amazing what stunning art can move you to do! As it turned out, we both seem to have a love for Coldplay; this art, which was inspired by Death and All His Friends, which in turn inspired a lot of this fic. And, titled it (listen to the whole album, but if you’re curious about the title, it’s from Strawberry Swing).
This fic had the support of some wonderful people: my lovely beta, gingerandfair, who gets top praise for putting up with me, as well as wordplaying for helping me navigate London, knittywriter for helping me figure out Paris, and lurkdusoleil for last second hand holding and for schooling me on m dashes.
Link to Art: to come!
Link to Fic: on AO3 OR under the cut!
This fic, y’all. Read it. It draws you in, soaks you up, and by the end, you’re basically drowning in the sheer beauty of it. Jude is so gifted with words, with emotion, and this prose in particular has lovely poetic notes throughout. She mentions Coldplay’s Death and All his Friends - seriously, listen to it, and to the entire album, because you can *feel* the music in the writing - I only wish I had the talent to do that, but she’s managed to accomplish it beautifully. (Also, can we just talk about the art? I LOVE the art.)
Michael de Montaigne
h/t photographer Justyna Neryng
There’s a great quote about types of writers from Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin that goes:
“I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they’re going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there’s going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if planted a fantasy seed or mystery seed or whatever. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don’t know how many branches it’s going to have, they find out as it grows. And I’m much more a gardener than an architect.”
My good friend Carrie Pack, author of Designs On You, and I have discussed this quote a few times, because I don’t feel like I fit neatly into either category (and fitting neatly into categories seems to be an ongoing theme for me at the moment).
This is so beautiful Mims. Favorite thing on the internet today. I always say I’m not a writer because I don’t have stories in my head waiting to be told, but this almost makes me want to write. (My storytelling skills lie almost entirely in the realm of verbally telling things that have happened. Scientific storytelling with embellishments, if you will.)
In response to your question: my entire life has consisted of trying to pick myself first only to feel like the world is telling me that my choices are bad and wrong. From too many sources to list, I internalized the message that choosing myself was selfish, even while the little voice in my head that I have called me, my angel, my intuition insisted otherwise. Living in a land of in-betweens is rough.
Since getting sick last year I’ve been on a journey of listening to that little voice. My mom would say I got sick because that was the only way I was going to learn to listen to, respect and care for myself. She’s a big believer in everything happens for a reason, but she also was among those who taught me to put everyone else first. I love my mom a lot, but I’m learning that I disagree with her a lot. Thing happen because they happened and we are left to make of them whatever we choose. That seems incredibly nuanced, but I hate the idea of predestination. Many factors created my illnesses; only some of those factors were under my control, and I have chosen to respond by loving, respecting and choosing myself first even when my body feels like a cage of thorns. There is no point in feeling shame over things I love or skills I have to offer, just like there is no reason to feel shame for having needs and asking for help meeting them. Funnily enough, this fan community played a huge part in learning that lesson, along with the tumblr spoonie community. :)
(I feel like I had another point to make here, but I appear to have hit my word-making limit for the time being, and in line with rejecting shame and guilt I’m trying to be transparent about my limits! Boo brain fog, but it doesn’t make me a lesser person! I may expand on this later if I ever remember what I’ve forgotten.)