I’ve given you Champions several weeks, so we’re finally going to discuss Trial of Magic! We’re going to start out by discussing the big twist at the end, which I also like to call “A textual record of Kitty’s spiking anxiety.” But before we go any farther, this is obviously going to be a huge, spoiler filled post, so if you have not read ToM, DO NOT READ THIS!!! It is going to take away your full enjoyment of the book! Just come back and read it once you’ve finished!
Okay, are we good?
Yaaaay! We can finally talk about the fact that 1/3rd of Veneno Conclave mages were, in fact, Chosen mages–including four of the six Council members!
I’ve been sitting on this plot twist since the DAY I came up with the Veneno Conclave. As many Champions know, I love naming things based on Latin words, and Veneno is actually the Latin word for poison/venom/drug/infect. A few Champions figured that out, and I spent several years sweating as I wondered if they’d put the clues together and spill the big secret.
I actually had Lovelana tell Angelique there was a mole because 1) It was good for her relationship with Angelique 2) it would build story tension 3) it would hopefully throw a bunch of you off the scent so instead of noticing how bad in general the Conclave was, you’d try to find the specific bad guy supposedly hiding among the rest of the good mages.
I also was able to successfully hide this twist by making the Chosen downright diabolical, instead of flat, one dimensional villains that like to monologue and laugh in dark corners.
Lazare and Primrose don’t seem so bad compared to Tristisim and Felicienne–who appear to hate Angelique. But if you re-read the first scene in Apprentice of Magic you can see the four Chosen mages manipulate Tristisim and Felicienne by triggering their love of rule following. They appear to be kinder to Angelique when all they’re doing is setting up Tristisim and Felicienne by pointing out areas where Angelique fails to follow the typical example of an enchantress/enchanter. (If they had wanted to save her, all they would have had to do is talk about the Snow Queen–the first enchantress who had magic just as deadly as Angelique’s.)
They also hid their intensions behind words they that they knew would make them look good. This bit is taken from the first scene in Apprentice of Magic.
Enchanter Crest sighed. “I’m sorry, Angelique. I don’t see how we can allow you to keep your magic. If there was someone who could teach you—who could assure us of your safety and those around you as you grew into your powers.”
“Indeed,” Enchantress Primrose appeared to wipe a tear from her eye. “But there are few equipped to handle one with your strength and…” She didn’t have to finish.
They *seem* nicer, because they know there’s no one who wants to take her as an apprentice, so they can give her–and readers–this empty lip service since it won’t jeopardize their plan to have Angelique sealed…until Evariste calls their bluff and volunteers.
The best examples, however, of the ways they set off Tristisim and Felicienne with kind words can be seen in Curse of Magic. Here’s an example of a scene when they’re reviewing whether or not it was illegal for Angelique to perform magic in Carabas as it is illegal to use magic in Arcainia. Angelique makes a claim that it’s not because Carabas was owned by an ogre and not the King of Arcainia. When she first makes this claim, the Chosen mages demurely agree, because they’re biding their time and they know Tristisim won’t drop the issue, which brings us to this portion of the scene.
Tristisim frowned. “I think her line about Carabas not being a part of Arcainia is untrue.”
“I don’t know.” Enchantress Primrose looked thoughtfully down at her papers. “She spoke the truth that as long as the ogre was there, Carabas really was not acting as an Arcainian city.”
Yes! Angelique smiled politely and didn’t allow her inner glee to show. Thank you!
“And the time she was performing her magic, Lady Gabrielle was the new Marquise, oh, dear,” Enchantress Primrose looked dismayed, “which brought Carabas back into Arcainia, I suppose.”
Primrose makes it look like she “accidentally” pondered this–not that she’s seeking to incite Tristisim to bring any kind of half-baked charge against Angelique so she can be properly side-lined instead of mucking in all of the Chosen’s plans.
Using Felicienne and Tristisim to say the meanest of things to Angelique was the best way for the Chosen quartet to at least appear slightly less guilty. (I was pretty terrified you all would go re-read Angelique’s books right after Court of Midnight and Deception, which practically trains you how to see through all the deception tactics I used in Angelique’s series!)
Perhaps the easiest way for the Chosen to hide, however, was to use the Conclave’s laws against them–laws that are, in theory, good.
One of the biggest reasons the Council sites as the reason for their inactivity, is because it is important for the Conclave to remain nonpolitical, and to avoid showing favoritism of any kind.
This is actually a good rule. The Conclave would be easy to manipulate because countries could constantly be crying off that they use more magic on behalf of other countries, or then they could possibly blame calamities on mages because they weren’t able to stop them–the bottom line is there needs to be separation between the Conclave and country government. The issue is that under the Chosen’s influence, the Conclave went too far and essentially stopped being proactive.
The Conclave should have been all over the Chosen when Baris found out a generation ago that dark mages were stirring. That would have drastically changed the landscape Angelique is dealing with today. However, the Chosen used a very necessary law as an excuse for their inactivity. And because they didn’t react, the countries saw no reason to react.
There’s a lot more–if you skim any Conclave scene you’re bound to notice more–but that’s all we have time for today. I hope you enjoyed all the other fun moments in Trial of Magic! Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day, Champions!