Chapter Eleven – Galan’s World
Adrina and Seth talk. Apparently Galan’s recovering. Hooray! Seth wants to appear before the council but Adrina makes him stay in bed.
Afterwards, Keeper Q’yer comes in and tries to get Seth to appear before the council, but again, Adrina (because she has so much power) argues him down. And I have to admit, I agree with Adrina’s reasoning here. This is not time-sensitive at all, it’s not like there is a dark impending doom closing in on the Elves – oh wait yes there is.
Galan reminisces about her childhood for a few pages. It doesn’t make sense and we learn nothing about her. Then Myrial shows up to bring Galan to Adrina. Turns out that Galan is now completely healed! The last time we saw her she was close to death, but Seth showed up to try and heal her and I guess she was completely healed off-screen.
Adrina regarded the silver-bronze of Galan’s skin and the purple radiance of the eyes. If you’d prefer, I can… Galan swept a hand along the contours of her body, leaving a trail of lightly tanned skin that matched Adrina’s own (page 119).
Apparently Elves are also chameleons. I don’t know why Galan randomly changed her skin color, because Adrina was just looking at it, and in fact quite liked the uniqueness of it. Which makes this entire paragraph pointless and nonsensical, much like the rest of this book.
Galan and Adrina talk about nothing for awhile, and then comes a scene that could be really good in the hands of a talented writer. But instead, we have Stanek:
“The capital of East Reach is Leklorall, just as the capital of West Reach is Elorendale,” said Adrina matter-of-factly, fidgeting with her hands.
Galan stood – and for an instant Adrina could see fear and anger in Galan’s eyes. You can’t know this! None of your kind has ever been to our lands and you’ve no records of our kind! (page 120)
This is great, except Galan can read minds. One of the side effects of being a telepath is that you are never surprised. Yes, the Elves can turn their telepathy off, but as soon as Adrina says something like that, Galan can instantly read her mind and ascertain the truth.
Adrina explains that Keeper Martin has piles of scrolls about the Elves.
“You don’t understand, Princess Adrina,” said Galan. “We know your history and your records – we wrote it after all.” (page 120)
Except they weren’t talking about how the Elves know the Men’s history, they’re talking about how the Men know the Elves’ history. So this entire statement makes no fucking sense.
Galan goes on to explain that the Elves of Greye laid siege to the kingdoms of Men, the Elves of the Reaches came to their aid, which would be cool, except we don’t know who the Elves if Greye are or have any context for the meaning or why this matters.
“You speak lies!” shouted Adrina. “I’ve been made to study the histories all my life – and I know what occurred! The Elves invaded our lands and thought it took nearly two thousand years to drive them away, we succeeded!”
“Half truths, I assure you! Half truths!” (page 121)
Ah, that’s Adrina, responding to things calmly and maturely. At this point, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that she’s going to be an obnoxious bitch for the rest of the series, but I’m still holding out hope that some villain will take offense and cut her tongue out.
I have to wonder about the whole ‘half truths’ thing, though. Even if Adrina’s claim was only half true, that’s still a pretty damning statement against the Elves.
Suddenly Galan notices that Adrina is holding a glowing orb so she grabs it away. And immediately Adrina calms down. Yes, the little glowing orb they found? Not only does it have Magical Powers, apparently it also influences the bearer’s mood and behavior. Kind’ve like the One Ring.
They start talking about the orb. Galan exposits that it’s one of the orbs that is kind of like a key to different realms. Also, it has the magic ability of extending a box of silence – so people nearby can’t hear them. It’s kind’ve a cool concept, which makes me wonder who Stanek stole it from.
It also turns out that only four orbs were ever created, making this one of the most powerful items in all existence, which some random assassin just happened to be carrying when he came in to try and kidnap Adrina, and now Adrina has it. That’s awfully convenient. Normally, I’d suspect this orb is going to prove incredibly useful later in the story, but knowing Stanek, it might just never be mentioned again.
Galan rambles through some history, and finally says that Sathar, the Dark One, is returning. Oh no! Who is Sathar? Why is he the Dark One? I have no idea, but since he’s Dark, I’m guessing he’s Evil.
They get back to the subject of the box of silence and Galan points out that Myrial has been trying to eavesdrop on them but hasn’t heard anything. Galan turns the orb off by putting it inside a leather pouch, which doesn’t sound like it should work, logically speaking, but of course it does. Adrina calls in Myrial, confronts her, abruptly gets over it, and orders dinner for three. They bring up the fact that Galan can read her mind, which would be a pretty terrifying thought for most people.
“It is,” whispered Myrial, turning to Galan. “Do you walk in my thoughts?”
Galan laughed. Adrina found she was unable to keep from laughing as well. Soon Myrial was laughing too (page 124).
This concept has just scared the shit out of Myrial to the point of making her lose her voice…and you laugh at her? What the fuck is wrong with these people?
Chapter Twelve – King’s Mate
And here at last is the chapter for Stanek to demonstrate that he really is America’s Tolkien. Some authors brag about their extensive languages they’ve created or their incredible world-building or their topographical maps. Others just invent games for their characters to play and try to pretend that it’s a real game, by going into extensive detail about it. (At the end of this book, Stanek actually includes a game board with instructions on how to play King’s Mate. I spent some time looking the rules over and they make no fucking sense).
Edward (the troant (half troll, half giant (which means that a giant fucked a troll…awkward))) pours himself and Vilmos a mug of beer and they start playing. Stanek spends a few pages going over the rules. It’s basically chess with a few changes here and there that sound like they would make the game more confusing and less strategic.
Vilmos and Edward play for a bit and finally Edwards stops fooling around and kicks Vilmos’ ass. They play again. As they play, they talk. Vilmos asks if the pieces represent something. Edward says that does but doesn’t explain anything, which is pretty typical, for Stanek. In Stanek’s world, everything Means Something, but you will never find out What It Means.
So they keep playing and Vilmos keeps losing but rapidly gets better.
By the evening’s end he was providing ample challenge for the astute master of King’s Mate (page 131).
Of course he does. He’s the Chosen One, isn’t he? He has to be good at everything he does.
Chapter Thirteen – The High Council
Nothing happens for awhile. Then Adrina and Galan start mind-talking…and nothing continues to happen. Stanek truly is a master at writing pages and pages of dialogue that does not advance the plot or reveal anything about any of the characters. Then we get to this scene, that just reveals way too much:
Adrina didn’t quite understand what Galan meant, but she did relax and eventually Galan coaxed her into opening her mind. With warm, gentle feelings, Galan stroked Adrina’s mind (page 134).
Good god. What the hell is wrong with you, Stanek?
It gets worse. Galan gives Adrina a happy warm picture and then…we cut forward to them taking a bath together. Naked. It’s a little bit awkward.
Not for them, but definitely for the reader.
We cut forward again. Seth and Galan are sitting outside the council-room, Seth telepathically eavesdropping. Stanek gives us a full page of conversation that doesn’t make sense. This shouldn’t piss me off at this point, but it really, really does. It should not be physically possible for someone to be this poor of a writer and yet have a weak career -built entirely on lies, I admit – as a writer.
Allow me to demonstrate Stanek’s mastery as a writer:
“Out with it captain, have the rumors been confirmed or not?”
“No, Keeper Martin, they have not.” The captain grimaced.
“Get on with it man,” demanded the black-robed priest (page 137).
Awww, look at you, Stanek! Being all mysterious and clever and shit by refusing to explain anything. Also, no, this scene doesn’t make sense in context. There is no context. We know nothing about any of these characters or anything that they’re talking about. These “rumors” aren’t explained, and I don’t know who the priest is referring to or why he wants “man” to get on with it.
I wonder, though: since this scene is from the point of view of someone sitting outside the room, listening to the conversation, how does he know what people are wearing?
The council calls in Seth and Galan and ask them why they’ve come. Seth says that a long time ago the Elves came to help the men and now they come asking the men to help them. Keeper Martin says that they have no history saying the Elves ever came to their aid. Seth says he has proof. Apparently, when Galan reached inside Keeper Martin and removed an arrowhead in the last book, she also left something there. Why? Well, Galan can sort of kind of see the future. She could see it well enough to know that Keeper Martin would survive the battle, but not well enough to know whether she or Seth would, which sounds like a really shitty way to see the future. And naturally, she left a scroll inside Keeper Martin. A scroll. Inside his body.
Okay. Let’s assume Galan and Seth died. Martin would have a scroll inside him, hopefully not causing an infection that would kill him. How, precisely, will this help? They’re going to hope that Martin randomly realizes there’s a scroll inside him and has someone surgically extract it and then read it and believe what it says? Really?
Wouldn’t it make more sense to just….I dunno, tell Martin everything, right then and there, so he knows what’s going on?
Anyway. Galan reaches inside his body and retrieves a tiny scroll. Don’t worry, though – they aren’t actually going to read from this scroll or offer proof. I’m dead serious…after all this buildup about the scroll, they never actually read its contents.
Instead, the argument starts up. Chancellor Yi asks a couple of moronic questions, and then King Andrew gets up and says that they’ve gotten close to establishing peace in the kingdom, and they really don’t want to head off to war. Seth points out that they really, really need their help. So Yi asks what, exactly, they need. Seth says it’s ships, men, and a supplies.
Then Stanek tells us they argue for awhile. Thankfully, he doesn’t actually write it out. Although I’m pretty sure he doesn’t write it out because he lacks the talent to do so.