spidrens

Another "reading to the kids" story.

I read the first chapter of Protector of the Small (another of Tamora Pierce’s girl knights of Tortall books) to both girls the other day. In it, the hero Kelandry sees a bunch of local ruffians throwing a sack into the river, and she sets out to rescue the creatures inside it.

Owlet: That’s mean.
Ninja: I hope it’s kittens!
Owlet, enraptured: KITTENS!

Kel runs off the boys but before she can wade out and retrieve the sack from the sandbar, a centaur-sized monster with the body of a spider and a human head shows up and snares the bag with its web. It pulls in the sack, opens it, and

Girls: GAPE IN HORROR.
Me, shutting book: And at this point the spidren eats a kitten, kids.

Kel throws rocks and runs the monster off. It climbs up the cliff on the other side of the river, and she follows it but gets stuck half-way up. It opens the bag again and

Girls: OH NO. SERIOUSLY? NO!
Me: Yup, so it eats another kitten.
Owl, to Ninja: THIS IS YOUR FAULT YOU SAID YOU WANTED IT TO BE KITTENS
Ninja: I was counting on a rescue!

The forces of good show up and rescue both Kel (who has a fear of heights she will need to work on until she can do her own animal rescuing later in the book) and the remaining five kittens. Kel takes them to the cook “who knew what to do with small animals.”

Me: She’s going to put them in a pie.
Girls: MOOOOMMM! STOP THAT!
Me: She doesn’t put them in a pie. Should I find a different book?
Girls: No!

anonymous asked:

I don't suppose you had any pictures/references on spidrens? I can't find any. And if spidrens use weapons, would that mean that their legs are more humany so that they can double as hands?

As far as I can tell, Tammy made them up, so finding references on them isn’t going to be possible? You’ll probably have to go look up pictures of big hairy spiders and figure out their anatomy and then glue a human head on there somewhere.

As for your second question, I’d never really thought of that! I suppose it’s possible, seeing as how spiders don’t have anything resembling hands. What do you think, followers?

Spidrens

So spidrens are the only part-human immortal we reject. There’s been plenty talk about the redemption arc of stormwings (which is fascinating) but spidrens have no such luck. Sure, they don’t have a convenient connection to warfare, and it’s ethical dilemmas, but they’re still worthy of note.

The scene where Daine is captured by spidrens in RotG is particularly key here - before that moment, we have never actually seen spidrens communicate. But here, they talk, tease, and show personality. Suddenly, these monstrous terrors become sentient beings.

In Kel’s books, we return to viewing their monstrosity - eating kittens, kidnapping villagers (and eating them alive-ish, limb by limb), killing Seaver’s father etc. We even have Tkaa - a fellow Immortal, traveller and diplomat - proclaim “Spidrens are monstrous” on the first day of page classes in First Test. But we also learn they have young, (and many of them) and we burn those children alive. Kel’s response to the young’s screams - vomit - is the closest we ever get to sympathy. As Protector of the Small, it’s little surprise she is affected by the sounds of children screaming (in human voices) as they burn to death (I sure don’t want to ever hear such a thing) but it’s interesting that she never gives it any more thought (not least because she IS Protector of the Small.) I’m pretty sure at some point, Kel is even told that spidrens are the only Immortals so monstrous they can’t be negotiated with, yet in that scene from RotG, it is apparent that, if not negotiated, Ozorne has dealt with them by spreading word of his desire for the capture of Daine.

Immortals have all kinds of interesting implications on the moral scale, and a number of species are dealt with wonderfully. Stormwings through metaphor and Rikash; ogres that love farming (and ogres who love fighting); centaurs in Squire of all levels of behaviours. Hurroks are also somewhat hard done by in their demonisation - how can you create an entire race as an evil inversion? Really? Sure they’re constructed with claws instead of hooves, and predatory skulls, but nature isn’t everything, and as Cloud observes to Daine, opposing natures doesn’t mean evil. But there is interesting potential in hurroks. We know that they are an inversion of the kudarung, and while we don’t *see* any “evil” kudarung, we do find annoying ones (albeit justifiably). And it seems reasonable to assume that if there were “bad” kudarung, their inverse would be “good” hurroks. Equally, the kraken was dark and creepy, but he was blatantly a unique individual, and not a representative for his entire race. Spidrens (as yet) have had no such regard.

Admittedly, spidrens are TERRIFYING (I am arachnophobic and Australian… I’m just thankful I don’t imagine spidrens as particularly spider-like), and let me take this moment to credit Alanna fighting spidrens in the dark, before knowing of their existence, given that spiders scared her enough the were a part of her Ordeal! But, surely this is no worse than a stormwing’s odour and behaviour? Maybe we need a spider lover (one of those bizarre people who keep tarantulas as pets, say) to defend a spidren’s right to existence. Maybe we don’t. Maybe spidrens are humanity’s natural predators. Who knows. I just think spidrens need some consideration, I guess. There are avenues to explore.