Chapter Nineteen – Things Revealed
He looks around. Stanek mentions a “panicked race through the forest” amidst a great deal of description about the landscape, which Vilmos supposedly knows very well. Despite this, he starts freaking out a bit when he notices the silence, which is then interrupted by a squirrel, and then he sees a shadow move. He then takes a moment to ponder the concept of “home”.
As you may recall, when we last left Vilmos he was talking to Xith. Where is Xith? I don’t know. Why doesn’t Vilmos naturally wonder where Xith is? Because that would make sense.
The world around him goes all swirly and he wakes up and there’s a horse and he rides towards his house and gets there and there are voices and then he wakes up AGAIN and now he’s inside of the house and he runs outside and runs away. So that was three pages of nothing happening.
Adrina explains the story of Galan’s heroic suicide to save Seth to Father Jacob. She hears footsteps and wonders if it’s Emel:
Jumping had been foolish – yes – yet taking Emel and Myrial to the tower to watch the sunrise had been even more foolish (page 199).
No, you fucking idiot. Throwing yourself off a city wall is NEVER less foolish than casually watching a sunrise with your friends.
The footsteps belong to her brother Valam, however, and they embrace.
Valam’s chainmail shirt was rough and cold and the hilt of his sword pressed into her side (page 200).
Or maybe he’s just really happy to see her? HEYOOOO. Okay, this isn’t a George R.R. Martin novel…
Valam explains he was lonesome and since the city is perfectly fine now, he figured he’d come back for a visit.
…It’s been a couple weeks since there was a major assault on that city. You’d think it would take more than a week or two for cleanup, burials, and repairing the walls. Alternately, maybe Valam’s just really shitty at his job.
We get a dumb quote:
Adrina had been a girl then. She was a young woman now (page 201).
There’s a typo (passed instead of past) and Valam mentions he got a message but doesn’t say anything else, presumably because he doesn’t want Adrina to know.
“This is no laughing matter!” Adrina shouted as she stormed off down the hall (page 202).
Definitely a young woman.
Father Jacob catches Valam up about Galan’s death and that the council isn’t behind supporting the elves in their war. Apparently Quashan’ and Alderan weren’t the only cities attacked. King Jarom wants to sit on the Iron Throne and now the Bandit Kings are getting bold enough to sneak in and try to kidnap Adrina. Valam is shocked. So am I. Remember that kidnapping attempt on Adrina that happened 120 pages ago and has not been mentioned since, nor has had any effect on the plot or on any of the characters? Yeah, that just got mentioned again.
I kind’ve wonder how Robert Stanek actually thinks the human brain works. Does he just not fundamentally understand how humans behave, or is he just such an overwhelmingly bad writer that he can’t come close to reality?
He’s running and he’s exhausted. He screams for Xith. Usually, when a change happens, the text mentions it. Like, Night 1, Vilmos and Xith are chatting, and Night 2, he wakes up, and notices that Xith is no longer there, and then shit starts going down, instead of it just being about six pages of random events happening before he starts wondering where his trusty traveling companion is.
There’s lots of description and a tree starts glowing and he hears a mysterious voice and realizes he never left Under-Earth, which would make a lot more sense if we knew what Under-Earth was or had some idea of its characteristics. The tree starts singing and a face appears on the bark. Vilmos has a several-page-long vision of a huge bloody battle between numerous races. Hopefully this is a vision of a horrifically violent end for every character in this book.
Valam is attempting to talk up Adrina’s fiancé. Then there’s some confusing dialogue so I don’t know exactly what Stanek is trying to accomplish here, if anything.
Adrina looks a bit messy so she rings the bell and Myrial comes in to help her look presentable. When they’re finished, Adrina and Valam head down to the council sessions, where it sounds like there’s an argument going on.
Chancellor Yi smiled as he broke into a soliloquy (page 210).
Yi makes a detailed argument for rallying the troops against King Mark and then makes an equally detailed argument against the exact same thing. The point of this was to open all sides of discussion and make the dialogue more successful, which seems reasonable enough, and might even be a good way to start council meetings, but I’m a little confused. Stanek just mentioned Adrina and Valam arrived in the middle of an argument. Why is Yi doing this in the middle of the discussion?
Fortunately, it doesn’t matter, because there is no more discussion about whether or not they should go to war. Instead, they talk about how some of the different cities are sending emissaries, and the king chastens a chancellor about not having some details ready, and the council is dismissed. Whew! I was afraid for a moment there we might actually hear some important plot details about whether or not these kingdoms are going to start a brutally violent war.
Instead there’s some half-assed attempts at intrigue.
The king tells the prince to trust a few families that aren’t important to the plot.
The king tells Keeper Martin and Chancellor Yi that “they know what they need to do” which will not be explained.
Valam asks about a “special delivery” which will have no meaningful impact to anything.
“You do realize,” Martin Braddabaggon said quietly, “Geoffrey of Solntse will never show. None of them will.” (page 212)
They talk a little bit about Geoffrey of Solntse and Keeper Martin recommends that Valam earn his respect through action and steel.
Chapter Twenty – Messages & Shadows
Emissaries are arriving from distant lands, which is odd, considering three sentences ago Martin was telling us that nobody would be showing up.
Some of them aren’t showing up, at least, and that’s causing problems. The king is getting pissed that they’re defying his summons and tension is mounting or something.
At council, Prince Valam suggest they send a royal party to each of the Minors because none of those kings will dare refuse a personal request. Except for maybe the treasonous ones who have already been party to some kidnap or assassination attempts? But the Chancellor thinks this is a good idea, so the king agrees.
He wanders through Under-Earth. Eventually he finds an empty city. He walks through it. Someone puts a sword against his spine.
She’s been hanging with Seth recently and they’ve been getting to know each other. Adrina keeps asking Seth questions about the Reaches and Seth is answering them by not saying anything. Per example:
- Adrina asks why a King rules in one Reach but a Queen rules over the other
- Seth says nothing
- Valam asks if it’s because of “Queen Oread” who we know nothing about
- Seth says that he knows what they’ve been told. But we don’t. Seth says Oread was a fool, and to understand you have to go back awhile to ancient history.
- Adrina asks if there were titans and dragons
- Seth says yes
- Valam mentions someone named Ky’el
- Seth says he was a titan
- The scene ends
To recap: apparently to know things you need to study history, some random queen was stupid, someone random was a titan, and there were dragons. That’s everything that we’ve learned from this miserable fucking excuse for a scene.
A rogue is prodding Vilmos along at sword-point. I feel I need to commend Stanek here for picking up where he left off. Considering Vilmos was being held up in the last scene, I assumed we’d pick up with him enjoying a nice hot bath and not mention what actually happened with the abduction attempt for another 40 pages or so.
His captors drag him to a room and a goblin asks who he is and starts cutting him when he refuses to answer. He pretends to be a slave but then switches his story to be a spy when they decide to kill him. His new story doesn’t work out so well either as they continue carving holes in him like a Halloween pumpkin.
A discharge of warm urine flowed down his leg yet he said firmly, “I am neither slave nor spy.” (page 224)
You’d think if he was capable of firmly lying he wouldn’t be involuntarily pissing himself.
The goblins are about to cut his throat so Vilmos stares at the dagger and then the goblin drops it because of magic, I guess, and goes running off with the other goblins in close pursuit, leaving Vilmos behind. A stranger pops out and it turns out to be the warrior from Solntse. Wait…you mean that guy that Vilmos randomly saw fighting 170 pages ago? He’s back? Okay.
The warrior he explains that he serves “Shost”, whoever the fuck that is, and they wander off.