Part 7: His Secret Desire

Chapter Seventeen – The Final Truth

We begin with a stupid quote:

The council was gathered and in full readiness as Seth, Galan, and Adrina arrived. This day there was no way Adrina would not be present, she felt she had earned the right to sit beside the two and so she did (page 175).

Uh…what? What has Adrina done to earn the right to sit there? Besides being a pretentious bitch?

So they get going when Father Jacob shows up, instead of getting going when the King shows up, which seems like it would make more sense. Seth gets up and says that he’s going to do something that will leave them without any doubts. Yi points out that he’s breaking council protocol.

Seth glared at the chancellor. “Your eyes betray you, chancellor. You’ve not slept well this past night and you are haunted by conscience. Tell King Andrew of your secret desire.” (page 176).

I don’t really want to know what the chancellor’s secret desire is, honestly. Fortunately, Stanek obliges us, and doesn’t bother explaining what this means or why Seth said it. Probably because it doesn’t actually mean anything. Stanek is a fan of the classic misdirection and employs it every few pages: if a character asks a difficult question, or a question that would lead to some information coming forth or something being explained, the other person immediately changes the subject. And no one ever comments on this or thinks it’s odd or demands an answer to their original question.

Seth starts chanting and his features begin to change and then suddenly he starts looking like a girl and then the Queen Mother is standing in his place. Naturally, everyone starts shrieking about witchcraft and devilry and someone even shouts “Devil begone!”, but eventually Father Jacob calms everyone down. How Father Jacob knows this isn’t some sort of Satanic witchcraft, I don’t know. You’d think he’d be revving up his pitchfork.

Adrina can see Seth’s life-force draining out of him from the effort, so she asks her father to call order to the room. See, she does have a purpose for being in this scene!

Everyone joins hands and they all get a vision of a hawk. It flies around for awhile without any point to it. That’s good. Nice waste of Seth’s life. Eventually they get down to brass tacks and she shows them a huge army assembling. It’s Sathar’s army. You know: the Dark Lord.

King Andrew tries to interject, and the Queen Mother has an excellent response:

Silence! Listen Man-Child (page 179).

Queen Mother is a brilliant negotiator. What better way to get on the good side of someone whose help you desperately need than by insulting him in front of his subordinates?

The Queen Mother gives them information overload for a few pages, stressing the fields of butchered people, the screams of those who are still alive, the smell of burning flesh, and other pleasant images that nine-year-olds love. Eventually it ends. The council looks at each other and silently agree. King Andrew says they’re convinced, but they still have to convince the alliance. But they’ll do what they can. Success!

We cut back to Vilmos. He’s flying around in his dream state, doing nothing, and eventually a voice calls at him, like it always does, and then Xith shows up. He asks about Edward and Xith says he’s in a better place.

They walk. Then they stop to rest. Xith suddenly yells “Duck!” and Vilmos throws himself to the ground and…nothing happens. Vilmos asks Xith why.

“Vilmos, life can be complicated or simple, often times you take a step forward only to find that you have taken two steps backward. Do you understand?”

Vilmos wavered his head. He had no idea what Xith was talking about (page 183).

That makes two of us. Get to the fucking point, Xith.

(He doesn’t)

Instead, he spends a paragraph just rambling about absolutely nothing. Then they hug! Then Xith has a glowing orb in his hand and Vilmos can see Adrina and Seth and Galan in it.

Back to the Elves. Seth is dying. He slowly sags down and collapses onto the table. Galan looks upwards and sees Seth’s spirit ascending into heaven. This infuriates her. So she chases up after Seth’s spirit and begs the Father, who releases Seth’s spirit, which falls back to earth, now filled with Galan’s life-force. Seth lands back in his spot, alive, and Galan is now dead.

Adrina leads Seth out of the room, but not without a few parting insults for the council for not deciding to help the Elves before it led to Galan’s death. Which makes sense, because previously, the council really didn’t have much of a reason to help the Elves, and now…they do.

More interestingly, this is her only reaction to Galan’s death. They’d spent time together, gotten to know each other a bit, took a bath together, Adrina gave her a dress….and now Adrina just watched her friend fall over dead. While Adrina was still holding her hand. That would be enough to put most people into therapy for years. And Adrina gets up and helps Seth out of the room, after bitching at the council.

This girl is a sociopath.

Chapter Eighteen – Dreams of Tomorrow

Adrina is pissed off and suicidal. She thinks about how she ruins everything she touches. Well, that’s because you’re a bitch, Adrina. She continues thinking about how it would be better if she just leaves the world. I’m probably not supposed to agreeing with characters in these situations, but, uh…just jump.

Turns out she’s standing up on top of the castle wall. Myrial tries to talk her down. She rambles for a bit about how she wants to fly, briefly mentions about how she should have done more to save Galan, and goes back to talking about wanting to fly. This scene might have worked if Stanek had written in a way that we clearly understood Adrina’s motivation. For instance, she’s so distraught over Galan’s death that she doesn’t want to live anymore. Except it’s not written that way. Adrina throws Galan’s name out that but mostly just seems to be on a really bad acid trip. You know the scene at the beginning of Lethal Weapon where the prostitute on heroin jumps out of the window? These scene is written just like that, except with bad dialogue.

“Why can’t I fly? If I wish it, I can do it – and I wish to fly.” (page 188)


Myrial chews Adrina out by talking about how much her life sucks being ordered around like a slave until finally Adrina gave her a chance. And now she would give her life for Adrina.

“Birds are free,” said Adrina. “I want to be free.” (page 189)

Seriously, it’s like she’s high.

Adrina sinks down to her haunches. This might be grammatically correct, but it still doesn’t sound right.

We cut over to Vilmos. He’s talking to Xith, who is sharing what Robert Stanek believes is wisdom. Observe:

“Those who don’t understand see good and evil, light and dark, positive and negative. There is always a careful balance, always a cautious dance. Which dance would you dance if you could?” (page 190)

The salsa dance.

There’s more nonsensical dialogue and Vilmos says he wants to be a mage. Remember awhile ago when he was talking about how he wanted to quit and go back home? Yep, he’s now back to wanting to be a mage. Why did he change his mind? No real reason. He learned to play chess King’s Mate and he watched Edward die. That’s about it.

Back to Adrina. Emel tries to convince her to come down from the wall. Yeah, Emel’s still hanging around, for reasons that aren’t clear. I distinctly recall him deciding to leave the fucking country.

Emel suddenly has a flashback to killing people in Quashan’, which…there really is no reason for the inclusion of this scene. It doesn’t make any sense and isn’t relevant to what is going on. Much like the rest of the book. Anyway, we get back to present, and Adrina jumps off the wall.

We cut over to Seth, who thinks about Galan and is sad she is dead. At least we have one character who isn’t a complete sociopath.

Back to Adrina. She jumped, but not off the outside of the wall. Instead she jumped off the shorter, inside ledge, and Emel was able to break her fall. Fake-out! fine, unfortunately.

Emel and Myrial talk about how much they would have missed her if she had gone and how worried they are. Personally, I would be dragging her inside to find a padded cell. She was just thinking about committing suicide! Unfortunately, though, this little episode was just a temporary glitch in Adrina’s mind. It will be never be mentioned again. Emel and Myrial don’t bother telling her father, the KING, that his daughter, the princess, is suicidal. And it doesn’t affect Adrina as a character at all. She goes right back to being a bitch.

Adrina hugs them, wipes away a couple of tears, and promises she won’t try to kill herself again.

So saying Adrina took Emel’s hand, Myrial’s, then walked away. She led them to the watchtower which wasn’t far away. The sun would be up soon. She wanted to see the brilliant blues, greens, and reds that only an autumn sunrise could bring – and she wanted to share this splendor with Emel and Myrial (page 195).

I think Stanek is referring to Myrial’s hand, but he doesn’t actually say what Adrina took. That sentence is atrocious.

The chapter ends here. Incidentally, this is also where The Kingdoms and the Elves of the Reaches 3 ends.


  7 Responses to “Part 7: His Secret Desire”

  1. I heard about some girl who was playing with a Ouija board and flipped out. She ran into the street and got hit by a car, killing her. Her mom liked the salsa dance, too.

  2. “Silence! Listen Man-Child”

    This has to be one of the most unintentionally funny lines Stanek has written. Up there with the baffling paragraph about Emel’s “barbarian rage”

  3. Just finished this. It has to be one of the worst books I’ve ever had the misfortune to read. And Stanek probably doesn’t even care about its quality.
    From reading Stanek’s websites and blogs, it seems to me that he wants to live under a persona as a writer without actually making an effort to be one. He just wants his own taste of living as an author. But he doesn’t want to have to earn it.

  4. Back to the Elves. Seth is dying. He slowly sags down and collapses onto the table. Galan looks upwards and sees Seth’s spirit ascending into heaven. This infuriates her. So she chases up after Seth’s spirit and begs the Father, who releases Seth’s spirit, which falls back to earth, now filled with Galan’s life-force. Seth lands back in his spot, alive, and Galan is now dead.


  5. Right? Galan for Seth? Galan IN Seth?!? 0_o And you may ask yourself, Well? How Did I Get Here?

  6. no one is the least bit surprised that they can see souls ascending into heaven? And why would it infuriate her to see this happen?

  7. This is not my beautiful fantasy novel.