In the second part of In the Labyrinth of Drakes, Isabella’s passions appear to be hindering … Well. Her passions. And somebody really doesn’t want her pursuing her professional goals…
I’m halfway through this book now, and after the emotional shipper’s gut-punch of last week comes the deliciously excruciating Isabella Puts Her Foot In It episode. After a bit of a stumble in the awareness department, she accidentally sends Suhail packing – though there’s no actual falling out, and she doesn’t realise her potential mistake until later. This comes during a rather forthright conversation with Andrew, who grows in my estimation every time he appears; despite that he makes a slight mis-step along the same lines as I imagine most men do with Isabella: he tries to assure her that, despite all the trials and troubles her work might cause in her social life, at least she ‘isn’t like other women’.
And of course Isabella’s response nails the root of that problematic opinion to the wall.
“I have made myself exceptional. It is a wonderful game, is it not? Because I am exceptional, anything I achieve does not reflect on my sex, for of course I am not like them. Strange, though, how that division seems to vanish when we are speaking instead of my shortcomings. Then I am a woman, like any other.”
All of this is doing wonderfully cathartic things to my heart – and to my soul. But it doesn’t yet solve the Suhail problem, and with him now out of the picture again for now I can only wait and see whether or not my shipping wish will be granted, and how. *Shakes fist* BRENNAAAAANNNN.
But there’s very little time to wallow in despair, because Isabella does still have her work to do, though the interferences are somewhat more direct and definitely more directly life-threatening. She and Tom finally seize a chance to observe the mating rituals of drakes, and before much longer they’re drugged, abducted and carried away from their camp. (This prompts a daring rescue by Suhail, which precedes the unfortunate departure to spread the news afterward. One more thing to hate these kidnappers for!)
Aside from my glee over the descriptions of said rituals, I was somewhat surprised by this narrative turn. We’ve seen Isabella in serious danger before, but that was largely always on account of a questionable choice she’d made, or one force of nature or another doing the endangering. Occasionally it’s been both (looking at you, Sea Serpents From The Last Book), but this is altogether different. Isabella is being targeted, presumably because of the specific work she’s doing for the Royal Army. I’ve been speculating that her predecessor wasn’t subject to this treatment because he failed to get anywhere, so perhaps Isabella’s already making progress of some sort that’s making her a threat to whoever orchestrated her kidnapping?
And on that note, the ordeal itself, for her and Tom, was more explicitly (though thankfully not more graphically) violent than any we’ve seen before. They’re both treated badly, and briefly but emphatically beaten for their first attempt to escape before Suhail arrives. This turn surprised me a little, but more than that, it left the definite impression that whatever they’ve gone through before will be nothing compared to whatever they’re going to face from here on in. Whoever their kidnappers are/were, they apparently have no qualms about putting a very final stop to them if they have to. Whatever this work is going to result in, it’ll have to be fought for, and that makes me both excited, really curious, and damned nervous on their behalf. We’ve seen someone close to Isabella die in such situations before, and so I will state for the record that if such a thing happens again – with anyone involved here – I will Not Be Okay.
I’ve known from the start that, regardless of the fact of Isabella’s own survival, this volume of her memoirs is going to be one where Very Important Things Happen. I’m halfway in and I’m still very unsure what those things will involve, exactly, beyond the now obvious mortal danger. I almost don’t want to know, because I’m not sure my feelings can take it! But that implies that I might not finish the story, and to hell with that. I might not want to know, but I’ve got to see for myself. I feel like I’ve never been quite this hooked on a story before, and I’m probably wrong, but for now, I’m happy to revel in it. This is amazing stuff. Amazing.