So the interesting thing about this chapter is how it reflects on some of the earlier chapters. I would expect readers by now to have at least suspected that Queen Anja was in fact the disguised Kraisa, even if they weren’t 100% sure. This is not so much a twist as a confirmation: it connects a few more dots after the previous week’s shocking instalment. We now know who the Big Bad is, and they’ve been there all along.
And that’s where this gets interesting, because we’ve had a couple of other chapters from Anja’s POV earlier in the book, long before these suspicions were raised. Right from the start I’ve know that she was Kraisa, though, so writing those Anja POV chapters required a particular sleight of hand so that there was nothing in there which would contradict the subsequent reveal of her alter ego, while at the same time not giving the game away too early.
The hope is the re-reading those chapters puts them in a completely new light. So, for example, back in ‘Age of impossibility’ (which is when Anja first discovered the enhanced armour), we get a few key lines that now have a very different context. Let’s take a look:
“War made a mockery of all plans; it always had done, and this brewing civil strife was no exception.” <– originally, this seemed to refer only to Guijus and Anja’s rule, and the problems with Bruckin. But, of course, there’s never been open war in Guijus’ lifetime, so what experience of war would Anja really have? This line post-reveal now has a different context: she’s referring to the War of the Elements, from centuries past, as well as all the conflicts that happened since. This is Kraisa lamenting the continual disruption of her plans.
“All of her long-gestating hopes had been on the verge of blossoming into reality” <– on first read, you assume she’s referring to the shared hopes she has with King Guijus: that of a stable valley, or retaining power etc. Now we know that she has her own agenda, always has done, and has something else in mind (Though we’re not sure what yet).
“She couldn’t risk reaching out again, not so soon” <– this line was ambiguous to begin with, and I expect most readers assumed there was some kind of spy shenanigans going on. Now we realise that she was referring to her remote link with Kirya – which is what had prompted Kirya’s fit when they first boarded the caravan, and how Anja/Kraisa knew their general direction in the first place.
“Time had not been entirely unkind on Anja Tellador’s body” <– the third person observation here now has a very different context. Rather than being a slightly more formal quirk of writing from ME, instead we realise that this was in fact still Kraisa’s inner monologue, and that she observes the body of Anja Tellador as a temporary vessel. Much like Aera, Kraisa has inhabited numerous bodies over the years. I recall especially enjoying writing that line, knowing that it would pay off for anyone doing a repeat-reading of the book down the line.
There’s one more chapter left in Arc 5 (possibly 2, if it ends up being a 2-parter finale). Arc 6, as you can imagine given where the story is currently, is going to shift things yet again into a completely new gear. I’m looking forward to it, and I hope you are too!