Pienya has come back to the fore in this arc. She’s been a persistent factor in the story but hasn’t always been the narrative focus. With the action back in the valley, it was inevitable that we’d start seeing things more from her point of view.
The problem she’s encountered, of course, is that for years she’s defined herself as an antagonist to Kirya. The unwanted sister, always trying to better the ‘real’ princess. With Kirya now entirely out of the picture (As far as Pienya is concerned), she now has to find a different way to define herself. Who is she, withotu that constant friction and approval-seeking?
Couple that with recent revelations around Queen Anja and it gets more complicated still. The woman/mother/queen that Pienya had been trying to please all these years had in fact been living a lie, and was someone else entirely. Even while pledging allegiance, as if nothing had changed, this can only seve to further undermine Pienya’s sense of self. As such, she’s beginning to fall back on her own intution and sense of morality – such as it is – to navigate her way through a hideously complex and dangerous political time in the valley.
In this chapter, I do a sneaky time jump back to BEFORE the ranged attack on the council chamber. Throughout this chapter we know what is coming, but how exactly it happens is hopefully a surprise. While TMC often jumps forwards, I don’t think I’ve done a jump backwards for a while. That we find out more about Pienya’s motivation, leading up to an inevitable event that we know is coming, is the real crux of the chapter.
This is a good example of a character insisting that the plot do one thing, regardless of whether it’s convenient to me as a writer. There’s a certain illogicality to her behaviour here that can’t be easily explained; it’s revealing contradictions in Pienya’s character which are intended to deepen and enrich her, and paint her as a more believable and conflicted human being.
Ultimately, this is critical to sidestepping her becoming an obvious ‘bad guy’. She’s filled that role, ostensibly, for much of the story’s run, and as we’re heading into the second half of Arc 6 (and, thus, the final Arc 7) it’s important to take a step back and ensure that there’s some nuance in there.
One perplexing factor here is Kraisa’s apparent disinterest in the battle. Specifically, it seems that all she really wants is a battle, and cares not for how it is fought. More to come on that one, of ourse. 🙂
THe last thing of note in here is more insight into how Pienya’s fancy new bow works, and its capabilities. There’s clearly a scope of sorts, though even that hardly explains her remarkably successful aim. With something like the bow – or any of the other ‘magic tech’ in the book – it’s a really tricky balance to know how much to explain it. Not enough and it can feel a bit hand-wavy, but too much and it weighs everything down with icky exposition and technobabble. I certainly don’t intend to explain everything, but we will get into a bit more detail before the end of the book.