Chapter Twenty-Seven: King’s Decree
Valam comes over to Adrina and reassures her. Turns out it’s just that the king has ordered the city sealed. Um…okay?
The King tells his commanders that both of his children are there and unharmed. A chancellor says the messenger was a ‘man of honor’. Um…okay, so if I understand this, I guess some random messenger came and advised that either Adrina or Valam had been kidnapped or something…leading to the freakout of the past chapter? But why the fuck would a messenger say that unless he knew for a fact the kidnapping was successful?
King Andrew turned to Adrina then. “My daughter, light of my life, listen carefully and speak truly. Has anyone made an attempt on your life or the life of your brother this day?” (page 299)
Adrina immediately and calmly says no. She doesn’t mention the whole Valam getting tied up by his lover and temporarily blinded incident, or the numerous attempts that have already been made on her life that have had no effect on the plot. I guess it’s possible the King is already aware of them – after all, both situations had dozens of soldiers present so it’d be practically impossible for him NOT to know, but he’s never made mention of either situation so I think the implication is he has no idea.
The king picks up his sword and says they need to make an end of all this nonsense.
But then the king did something that surprised everyone. In one swift motion, he lunged across the table and drove the blade into the chest of the man across from him. The blade easily sliced through the man’s breastplate, finding his heart (page 300).
Everyone there is very impressed, since the king has just demonstrated he’s not weak. Yep, that’s the trick: stabbing one of your subjects at a council meeting. Again, there’s this concept of this being “justice”.
The dead man is Captain Atford and apparently he was the “chief whisperer”. Atford has never been mentioned before and I think there has been exactly one mention of a whisperer. It’s hasn’t had the slightest impact to the plot. Nobody has spent time thinking or caring about it. So well done, Stanek, on writing a scene that is stupid, nonsensical, has absolutely no meaning within the larger scope of the story, carries no emotional impact, and will really only serve to mildly confuse your readers who are wondering who this random person is and why we’re supposed to give a fuck that he’s now dead.
Adrina thinks about how the battle of Quashan’ had hardened her but even that hadn’t prepared her for seeing her dad kill someone in front of her. Which, fair point, that wasn’t very considerate of her father.
Everyone rolls down to the larger Council Hall that is full of representatives from the noble houses. One of the nobles gets up and introduces himself as Peter Eragol.
“There are some who say the House of Alder has lost touch with the people, forfeited its power and the right to rule.” Gasps crisscrossed the hall – Peter Eragol spoke treasonous words (page 302).
These characters are really scraping the bottle of the barrel for political intrigue.
Chancellor Yi signals some guards who drag in the dead captain, which makes Eragol freak out a bit. He demands the right to speak his piece, but everyone starts snickering so nothing really happens.
The king turned to the council and spoke. Adrina heard the words, but didn’t really listen (page 304).
Of course, why should she? I mean, the main thing we know about Adrina’s character (aside from being a bitch) is that she’s an nosy little bastard who demands to be a part of everything and know as much as she can about what is going on, and you’re finally having a scene where the king is squaring off against a nobleman who I think is supposed to be some kind of traitor…and she tunes everything out. Probably because it would be difficult to write and Stanek would actually have to work out some sort of plausible character motivation and put it on paper. Instead, we cut forward to the end of the meeting. What is the impact of all this? Was the noble exposed? How has this changed the delicate balance of power in Great Kingdom? Who knows, certainly not us.
Valam and Adrina walk out and head to Adrina’s room. Adrina asks what was going on with the old woman. Valam says that at first he heard about a divide in the council, but then he learned…and he trails off. Yep, we were actually going to LEARN SOMETHING ABOUT THIS GODDAMN PLOT and that means it’s time for some stupid fucking meaningless interruption.
Valam drags Myrial out from behind the curtains, where she was hiding for reasons that are unclear. Valam thinks she’s a traitor. Adrina says she’s not. Valam says he suspects everyone. Myrial gets up on the window and offers to jump out to prove she’s loyal. Valam says that’ll just convince him she’s a traitor. Myrial grabs Valam’s sword and slices the fuck out of her hands.
Her blood ran pure and crimson down the blade, bathing Valam’s hands (page 307).
For some reason this act convinces him. So they run and find Seth and he heals Myrial’s hands. And…they all forget about the important conversation they were about to have. Surprise!
Chapter Twenty-Eight: Hidden Doorways
There is pain and dreams and darkness, and he cries out for Xith and suddenly Xith is there! Hooray! I mean, this about the fifth straight time Vilmos and Xith have lost each other and Vilmos has wandered around having a vision quest and getting kidnapped and escaping and then they randomly bump into each other again without even wondering what the fuck happened or why they were separated in the first place.
Xith rambles through some basic Xith bullshit about there not being much time, and things aren’t over, and the real fight has begun. It’s the type of absolutely meaningless conversation that doesn’t progress the plot or reveal anything about the characters, and as such, Robert Stanek is incredibly good at it.
Blah blah, Vilmos is getting better at getting around “their” controls and so he’s in danger of being killed. There’s another shadowy creature, but Xith doesn’t explain who it is. Vilmos is pissed:
“What have you let me become? What gave you the right to let this thing come to pass?”
“Even if I had wanted to I couldn’t have done what needed to be done until I was sure, so I waited and watched. When the time came near I felt the presence.” (page 312)
Xith explains Vilmos must learn to control the “wild magic”, whatever that is, and then, as he disappears, reminds Vilmos that he is the “sleeping dragon”. Well that’s just fucking great.
She’s lying in bed, trying to get to sleep, when a gloved hand clamps over her mouth and drags her out of bed. She freaks out a bit and has a flashback.
“Revolution,” Valam had told her. “You don’t want our family to end as King Frederick II’s.” She didn’t. King Frederick, his wife, and most of his family were murdered in their sleep (page 314).
My hopes for Adrina to meet her untimely end are abruptly dashed however, because it’s…Midori. Her sister.
This castle has the worst fucking security.
“Must we always meet like this, sister?” she asked. “Can you not knock and announce yourself like a normal person?” (page 314)
For once, Adrina actually has a point.
Midori says it’s time to reveal the truth. And then…Captain Brodst steps out. Midori explains that she and the captain are kind’ve an item. And that she isn’t responsible for the different attacks. Um. Okay. I don’t know of anyone who thinks Midori is even remotely involved…it seems pretty clear that King Jarom is behind all this, and by “clear” I mean “not clear at all” but characters have speculated four or five times over the past 700 pages of text that Jarom is behind it.
Turns out they both know Xith, which is how they know Jarom wants to rule. And Midori didn’t want to marry Jarom, so she married the captain instead, and had a kid. Adrina has one question on her mind:
“Is that child Emel?” (page 316)
They don’t answer the question because characters in Stanek never answer questions. Ever. If someone asks “What do you want for breakfast?” the other will respond with “You know the truth of the matter” or “Breakfast cannot be trusted” or “Have you not seen the answer in your dreams?” or “They walk among us” or “Where is my horse’s saddle?”, but I’m guessing the intent here is Emel is their kid. Meaning Adrina’s crush is actually her nephew. Awkward!
Midori says they’ll tell her more later – which is good, since they haven’t told her anything relevant to the plot – and gives her a scroll. Adrina opens the scroll. The words move around like a Harry Potter parchment.
Kingdom of the Sky
Through danger deep
Death’s door does lie (page 317)
That sure clears things up.
Adrina has a vision of a staircase and a door. Midori grabs Adrina’s hand and shoves it in the image and a glowing white aura starts surrounding her. Holy shit!
He finds a pool and stares at his reflection and wishes he was bigger and stronger and then goes and tames a horse. It’s basically an almost identical version of a scene that happened a while ago with a few minor changes. Eventually he hears a voice asking him to stay with them. Then he sees Xith and a stranger in darkness. The stranger introduces him as Ayrian of the Eagle Lords. Ayrian says he has to head north and find a tower and a key. Quest time!
Nothing happens for a bit, and then Xith starts telling him he needs to kill people and that he’s evil and he needs to end all good and rule the world. This unsubtle attempt fails and Vilmos realizes he’s not Xith and fights. Some priests attempt to regain control. A warrior appears out of nowhere and attacks the priests. It’s very violent. Eventually everyone is dead and Vilmos crawls out from beneath a corpse and a voice says to run and he runs for a bit and finds a tower and goes towards it.