Chapter Four – Discovery
Adrina tossed and turned, enduring a fitful dream from which she had awoken more than once. Dreams had descended upon her normally soft world of slumber of late – one in particular had plagued her sleep for many weeks, though she told no one. On this particular night voices in the hall passing her door wrested her from sleep (page 70).
No, Stanek isn’t actually going to tell us what Adrina is dreaming about. It’s not important enough, I guess. Although apparently the fact that she’s having bad dreams is enough to waste a paragraph on.
I’m not sure how Adrina hears this next scene. It’s actually written from the POV of someone who is actually standing in the king’s bedchamber, so it’s not Adrina. I guess it’s just another of Stanek’s really, really poorly written POV shifts.
Chancellor Yi wakes up the king because Keeper Martin wants to talk to him. This book being titled Keeper Martin’s Tale, you may assume that Keeper Martin is a reasonably important character. You’d be wrong. He’s one of the Keepers of the Lore, so he’s kind of like a historian. I think Stanek is trying to pretend that this series is Keeper Martin’s history book of everything that happened, which doesn’t excuse his moronic title, or excuse the fact that Martin’s portrait is oddly reminiscent of Stanek himself.
The king slowly gets up, which makes the chancellor go diving for the royal slippers. I’m not sure why an old chancellor has this job. I’m reasonably certain the king has quite a few trusted servants who hang around day and night to help him do things like get dressed.
The king asks who it is several times, and Yi says it’s Keeper Martin for the second or third times. He tells the king – twice – that Martin wouldn’t say what he wanted. I can chalk this down to being sleepy and a little dim-witted – we have ample evidence for both – but not for after Yi and Father Tenuus leave. Father Tenuus has been standing right there the entire time. He has heard Keeper Martin’s name mentioned six times, and still has to ask Yi who is there.
We cut back to Adrina, who somehow heard that Keeper Martin is around. Adrina walks to a balcony that overlooks the entrance hall. She sees the king greet Keeper Martin and Father Jacob, who’s the head of the priesthood, and disappear into the council chambers.
A visit by both men, especially at this late hour, was unprecedented and in her mind Adrina found only one answer.
“War,” she whispered in reverent tones. The Minors were at war (page 73).
Spoiler alert – the minors actually are at war, which we find out eventually, but for Stanek, this is confirmation. A rather dense teenager sees a couple people show up and comes to the conclusion that it must be war, and Stanek figures this is evidence enough for all the readers so he doesn’t actually bother to say that yes, the Minors are at war.
Excited by this bit of news, Adrina falls asleep. There’s a dumb moment where Captain Brodst wakes her up and Adrina panics and screams like a little girl and Lady Isador comes running, but it’s neither funny nor interesting. And that’s it. Six pages devoted to a character learning that maybe some countries are at war. We don’t know what countries are at war or even that they are at war, or what impact this has or what this means for any of our POV characters, but hey, war!
Although from Emel’s line a chapter prior about Sever and Vostok squabbling, if the reader happens to remember from that one throwaway line in Chapter One that Sever and Vostok are among the Minors, the reader might deduce that maybe these are the countries in question. Which they are, but here is yet another example of Stanek being deliberately confusing.
We now skip over to Emel:
Performing his perfunctory duties as acting sergeant delayed Emel and by the time he arrived at the palace stables the others of his company had been and gone (page 75).
Honestly, I can’t imagine that whatever duties he has as a sergeant are more important than him being on time for riding out with his company. I think he doesn’t have his priorities straight.
His steed, fittingly dubbed Ebony Lightning because it was jet black and could outpace even stallions bred for the king’s swiftest messengers, still waited in its stall (page 75).
Ebony Lightning is one of the stupidest names for a horse that I’ve ever heard. And where did a kid like Emel get the fastest horse in the kingdom? He’s a guard, he obviously has no family ties or a position at court, so he’s not wealthy enough to afford an extremely good horse. And if it’s his mount for the cavalry, you’d expect the king to appropriate it for his messengers and give him a different horse.
There was a reason Ebony Lightning was the swiftest steed in Imtal Proper and maybe even in all the land, and that was because of the special bond between horse and rider. Before and after every ride, Emel rubbed the horse down from the poll of its head the dock of its tail, up and down each powerful leg (page 75).
Special bonds do not make horses capable of galloping faster. Rubdowns do not make horses capable of galloping faster. Every horse in the king’s stables gets regular rubdowns. Stanek does not know anything about horses. Let’s move on.
Adrina is standing there holding his horse’s harness. It’s the only harness left in the stables, because she’s hidden the rest. Right. A slip of a girl was able to hide several thousand pounds’ worth of saddles and bridles without a single groom or stable boy noticing. That’s really likely.
Adrina wants to go out riding with Emel and his company. She tells Emel that unless he agrees to let her come along, she won’t give it back. Now, there’s all sorts of ways to get around this, but Emel opts to say that even though he’s never hit a girl before, if he has to, he will. I fully agree with this. Hit her, please.
Adrina says that if he does, she’ll hit him back:
She had been trained in hand-to-hand combat the same as he had – an actuality that Adrina was proud of – and the fact that she had bested him once or twice on the competition field led him to believe that she could be capable of it again (page 77).
Oh boy. A 90-pound girl is capable of defeating trained soldiers in hand-to-hand combat? Yeah, this is a brand-new concept.
Emel agrees and they saddle up. Adrina wants to go with them on their excursion to Alderan City. Alderan? Where have I heard that name before? Oh, never mind, that’s Alderaan. Totally different.
Adrina knew the departure was shrouded in secrecy. Ridemaster Gabrylle had been told to make the journey look like training for the young palace ridesmen. Adrina had heard this from a kitchen cook that bedded the Ridemaster (page 78).
Have I mentioned how much I enjoy the fact that this series is marketed for being ages 10+?
Adrina tells Emel that her father had two visitors in the middle of the night. Continuing in the vein of lying to her best friend, she tells him that she knows the entire plan, and will only tell him if he agrees to talk to the ridemaster. She asks him why they’re going to Alderan. Emel says that it’s to meet a ship that sailed from Wellison. If I was Emel, I would point out that if Adrina knew everything, she would probably know what they’re being sent to Alderan. So I guess Emel’s not that sharp, either. Then again, he keeps telling her things and she never returns the favor. I guess he’s being distracted by the fact that she has breasts.