Chapter Twenty-Six – Full Circle
Inside Quashan’, Sergeant Danyel’ talks to Keeper Q’yer about Chancellor Van’te. I threw up a little bit in my mouth, typing all those apostrophes.
Sergeant Danyel’ turned about on his heel and looked out at the campfires that dotted the landscape like a swarm of lightning bugs (page 344).
No. Lightning bugs move. Campfires stay in one place. This is a terrible analogy.
They talk about how the attack will come again at dawn. For some reason, the army around them is not attacking with full strength. They’re just toying with them. This doesn’t really make sense, especially since Danyel’ specifically says if the army attacked with full strength, they’d win easily.
We cut over to Adrina. She’s thinking about how they found Vilmos unconscious on the ground, ‘saturated’ with blood. I disapprove of the word choice. Saturated means he is soaked in blood. Clothes can be soaked in blood, because clothes actually hold liquid. People can only be covered in blood. That’s maybe a bit nitpicky, but what isn’t nitpicky is that Vilmos was off at the far end of the forest and they just managed to find him. You would think that a reasonably small boy in the middle of a very large forest might be difficult to find. Maybe Xith has some magical scrying abilities that would pinpoint his location. That would be something you would actually want to include a line about, Stanek.
Emel is riding Ebony. Xith managed to keep the horses with him all this time. As you probably don’t recall, they left the horses in the forest outside of the city before they went on their suicide mission into Alderan. Xith attracted the attention of the guards in order to – I have no idea, actually – and then apparently left the city, went back into the forest, found the horses, and has been keeping them handy ever since. That was nice of him.
They stop for a rest later. Adrina snaps at Emel. Later she says that she didn’t mean to, but she doesn’t actually apologize, which fits in with my theory that she’s still a bitch. Before they have a chance to get into it Prince Valam comes up and Adrina asks him what he and Xith were talking about.
“We talked about this,” said Valam withdrawing his father’s sword from its sheath. “Truth Bringer” the sword was called. It was wider across than a man’s hand and taller than most men as well (page 347).
Apparently Robert Stanek has taken a page from Christopher Paolini’s book and thinks that a man can carry and fight with a sword that’s six feet long.
Valam rants for a bit about how Keeper Martin and Father Jacob let Adrina stay with them when they knew about the upcoming dangers. To calm him, Emel puts his hand on his shoulder. I take it Emel, as a guardsman, hasn’t learned about not laying a hand on the Royal Person?
Adrina points out to Valam that she’s used to getting what she wants and no one is to blame but herself.
We skip over to Adylton and Keeper Martin. They’re negotiating with a river captain and asking him to take them up river. Eventually they strike a deal by promising triple their worth plus a year’s worth of lost wages if any of the ships are damaged.
Then we cut to Father Jacob. He’s in the forest outside Quashan’, talking to Captain Mikhal about whether they should attack or not.
Then, his tone grim, Captain Mikhal said, “A costly attack at dawn it will be, but we must strike now. I cannot bare the sight of this.” (pages 350)
That’s ‘bear’, Stanek.
The battle isn’t going well for the Good Guys, it seems. Mikhal really wants to attack. Father Jacob says they should wait. Nothing happens for awhile. Eventually a new army under Prince William shows up. At first Mikhal is pleased, because he thinks that Prince William is there to help their side. Father Jacob is forced to tell him the difficult truth:
He spoke quickly and directly, telling Captain Mikhal a thing that he himself had not wanted to believe until he saw it with his own eyes. “The Kingdom of Vostok and the Kingdom of Sever are united in their cause against Great Kingdom.” (page 351)
It’s nice that you didn’t want to say anything until you saw it with your own eyes, Father, it really is, but here’s the point: if you have a pretty good idea that an army that you consider your allies have actually turned traitor and are going to fight against you, why the fuck didn’t you go and WARN EVERYONE ABOUT THAT POSSIBILITY?
“The attack begins,” said Captain Mikhal, his hand returned to Jacob’s shoulder was again trying to crush bone. “My hand yearns for the hilt of my blade” (page 352)
I’m going to avoid the obvious masturbation joke and just marvel at the complete insanity of the first sentence there.
Mikhal decides they’re going to attack. And then we’re back to Vilmos and co:
In the middle of the circle of trees they sat. Seth beside Galan. Vilmos opposite Xith and the mysterious lady.
Vilmos listened carefully to the tall light-haired woman who he was sure had saved his life when no other could have (page 352).
If you’re wondering if you’ve missed something, you’re not alone. No, this woman has never been mentioned before anywhere in this book. Stanek just brings her up like he expects to know who the fuck he’s talking about, and Vilmos indicates she saved his life, which she didn’t.
This man is a stunningly bad writer.
The lady gives Vilmos some wisdom:
“Sometimes, two great boughs touch and, for a time, their branches intertwine. Sometimes, the great trees form a circle such as this.”
She gestured to the circle of trees. “And, for good or evil, they form an ever continuing chain. The evil that plays upon the hearts and minds of the disenchanted has its part in the chain. You cannot cleanse yourself of it forever, though you can hold it in check. You, Vilmos, have found yourself” (page 352).
I have no idea what that means.
The lady tells Xith that he’ll receive help from an unlikely source, and then vanishes into the ether. And then we get an awkward bit of description:
…the sun virgining in the East shrouded all detail in a golden haze (page 353).
Words fail me, but the image I’m getting is some kid putting the book down and asking their parents what the word ‘virgining’ means.
Back to the Apostrophe Trio. A runner comes in and lets Danyel’ know that more armies have appeared from every side of Quashan’. There’s a dramatic moment, and then the chapter ends.
Chapter Twenty-Seven – Battle
Vilmos, Adrina, and everyone have met up with Father Jacob. How did they find him on the edge of a very large forest in the middle of a very large countryside? No idea, they just did. They’ve all been watching the battle. Quashan’ is getting their asses kicked, and Mikhal doesn’t want to wait any longer. Remember when we last left him, he had decided they were going to attack? Yeah. He still hasn’t attacked. But he wants to:
“I see only that the defenders will soon be overwhelmed. The Quashan’ garrison isn’t the largest in the Kingdom, isn’t the strongest, isn’t the best equipped, but we’ll be damned if we stand by and watch our homes destroyed. Never underestimate the determination of men defending their homes. We’ll fight. We’ll fight like demons possessed.”
“You should relax,” Xith said (page 355).
For some reason, this argument fails to convince Mikhal. He orders his men into position and readies an assault. He sends the foot soldiers out first. Fifteen hundred men charge out of the trees and down into the valley towards the city.
Nobody sees them coming.
Seriously. There’s an entire siege sitting there, and not a single one of them happens to be looking behind them, or hear fifteen hundred heavily armed men running across the valley towards them.
I’m not kidding.
After a bit they send the horsemen after the foot soldiers and they attack as well. Violence ensues.
Mikhal and Xith and Seth charge into battle together. Seth jumps off his horse and starts slaughtering people in a very Legolas-like manner. Xith Force-zaps a few people, and Mikhal breaks his enemies’ skulls.
There’s an image no children’s story is complete without.
Back to Galan and Vilmos. They’ve been instructed to go around to the side of the city and wait for the reinforcements that are supposedly coming. They’re going to be giving them instructions from Xith, I’m guessing, about the proper method of attack. However, I’m not exactly sure why any reinforcements would believe either of them. Vilmos is a snot-nosed kid from Sever. Sever, as you may recall, is the country that just betrayed Great Kingdom and is currently fighting against them. Plus, Galan is an Elf, and Men and Elves aren’t on friendly terms. There is no logical reason why the coming army would do anything besides ignore them, unless it was to skewer them and leave them to die.
Galan sees some men starting an attack from the south. She sends a telepathic message to Seth, who has reached, climbed, and now is standing atop the city walls. He tells Sergeant Danyel’ that they need to send men to the south. At first Danyel’ doesn’t trust him, but Seth shows him the green and gold cloth tied around his arm. Apparently, all it takes to identify yourself as being loyal to Great Kingdom is a piece of cloth. I wonder why all of the attackers aren’t wearing this? Danyel’ sends twenty men as reinforcements.
But slowly the Kingdom guys are cut to bits and it gets rapidly more apparent that they are all going to die a very bloody and reasonably painful death. And then suddenly another army arrives. The Kingdomers all cheer because it’s reinforcements, yay! And then they realize it’s actually the army of Sever and now they’re even more screwed than they were before. It’s very dramatic for about a page and a half and then Prince Valam shows up with a huge army and attacks.