Chapter Thirty – The Test of the Army
So now it’s time for Joey to give the much-heralded test. Roughly half of it is lifted straight from the Bible. And yet roughly all of it makes no sense whatsoever.
Maya and Joey accepted the offer and Joey said “I will test this army and I command every man in this camp from this moment on not to eat or drink anything until I say so.” (page 184).
I will admit that there is some value to this sort of training. Note that I said training, not testing. Depending on the type of military you are attempting to create, there may be some value in conducting continual, repeated tests like this. The idea is to firmly drill the concept into your soldiers’ heads that any command, regardless of how asinine or seemingly insignificant it is, is to be obeyed immediately and without question. It’s also to breed strength of mind and body within your soldiers. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. That being said, that sort of training takes time. You can’t train an army to do this in a day or in a few hours. A single solitary ‘test’ accomplishes nothing, except to make your army resent you. And when you’re a snot-nosed prepubescent kid who just took over the army, that’s an idiotic decision.
Maya tells him so. Joey tells her that he knows what he’s doing.
Three days and nights pass.
Let me repeat that for you.
Three days and nights pass.
I’m not sure if he’s letting them sleep or not, but people are falling over left and right from exhaustion and dehydration, which is what usually happens when you’re already tired and thirsty. At any rate, this has now passed from being just stupid to downright barbaric. Of course, it’s incredibly stupid as well. Your soldiers aren’t the best equipped, or trained, or provisioned, so why not take the shitty hand you’ve been dealt and deliberately try and sabotage yourself even further? That’s a brilliant idea.
Joey gets some bread and water and walks around eating and drinking. I wish that someone would stab him and steal his food but it doesn’t happen. People keep fainting left and right, and, amazingly, no one except for Maya speaks up and tells him that he’s a fucking idiot and needs to be immediately relieved of his command.
Not to mention, Joey isn’t technically the leader, he’s co-leader with Maya, and since Maya is older than him, she should outrank him and be able to countermand his idiotic orders.
Finally Joey tells everyone to go to the lagoon and get themselves a drink. Also a stupid idea. Hasn’t this idiot ever heard of boiling water before drinking it? I guess not. Anyway, this is the scene that’s pretty much lifted from the Bible.
The story goes (in Judges, chapter 7, if you’re interested) that Gideon and the Israelites are going to attack the Midianites. However, God wants everyone to know that HE was the cause of the victory, and because Israel has a very large army, when they win, they’ll just say it was all due to them. So first he has Gideon send everyone who is afraid home, and then they have all the soldiers drink. Gideon separates out all the soldiers who scoops out the water with their hands and drink it from their hands versus all the soldiers who get down on their knees to drink, and only keeps the ones who drank from their hands, leaving him with 300 soldiers, that he then uses to kick the Midianites’ asses.
Back in Narnia, the people run down to the lagoon. Well. Some of them run. The rest of them sort’ve stagger because they’ve just been put through some hellish torture by their new commander. But some of them jump into the water, and some of them scoop up water with their hands and drink while staying alert for another command. Well. As alert as you can be after you’ve just been deprived of food and water and possibly sleep for three days and nights straight.
Anyway, Joey separates everyone out. The ‘alert’ soldiers are going to come with him – surprise surprise, there’s almost exactly 300 of them. And everyone else is supposed to go back to their villages and build a line of support. Whatever the hell that means.
There are so many things wrong with all of this that I have neither the time, patience, or alcohol tolerance to deal with them, so I’ll stick with just one. There is a difference between conducting a test because an all-powerful, all-knowing God has pretty much said he is going to kick your enemies’ asses for you and you have a guaranteed victory…and conducting a test for…well, I’m going to be honest here. For no reason at all. There is no reason for Joey to do what he just did. Sending half your army home is stupid.
But wait! Let’s hear him try to justify it, when he tells the other half to go home and take care of the villages:
“You are more important right now for your own people at home then being with us. We will fight the powers of darkness but you will stay with your families in your villages instead of hiding in the bushes. This attitude will give all of your people a stronger hope.” (page 188).
One, this is true. In which case Joey took all of the weaker, younger, and stupider members of his army and gave them the more important job. Which means he is literally retarded.
Two, this is a lie. In which case Joey just got rid of half his soldiers for no reason at all. Which means he is literally retarded.
Something tells me that Tesch is unfamiliar with the intricacies of military tactics.
So of course at this nugget of wisdom everyone cheers and claps and says “Long live our Commanders.”
Intense rage. Blinding rage. That’s what I feel right now. I want to strangle a kitten because I cannot strangle this book. If I could acquire copies of this book cheaply I would buy one and burn it for pure catharsis.
Afterwards, Maya comes up to him and wants to know where Joey got the idea from:
“That was indeed brilliant and I think it was a splendid idea to get rid of the little kids, the weak and the once you did not obey your orders but were did you get this from?” (page 189).
Yes, the text really says ‘once’ and ‘were’, but honestly, I’m starting to care less about the typos which litter the pages and more at the egregious insults to my intelligence that are being perpetuated by Ms. Tesch.
Joey gave his sister a big hug and whispered “Today a reader and tomorrow a leader!’ In school and at home I read many books about pirates, captains of ships, famous leaders and commanders of armies. I read especially one book about one commander and I learned that he did practically the same thing that I did today!” (page 189).
Great. The leader of their army is using advice from children’s stories about pirates. They’re doomed.
So the three hundred of them mount up, Maya and Joey board their newly enslaved unicorns, and they head off to the Lake Lagoon to meet the mermaids. Why? No real reason. Tesch thinks mermaids are cool or something.
Maya monologues for awhile about nothing for awhile, and finally they reach the Lagoon of the Mermaids.
Libertine, that delightful dove of exposition, flies down and explains to Maya that coming up is the ‘Dolphins Gate’, where they will have ANOTHER test and, if they pass, they’ll then be worthy to meet the king. Maya tells Joey this and then tells him that she wants to stay alone at the mermaid lagoon with her two escorts, and everyone else should go on to the Dolphins Gate to camp. Why? No idea. But Joey agrees.
At the lagoon, nothing happens for a bit. Then a mermaid comes out. Then the mermaid disappears again. Then some more mermaids show up and dance with some dolphins. Then they all disappear again. It’s very intense.
Maya wanders around for a bit and starts wading and then some mermaids show up and talk with her. Libertine makes the introductions and the mermaids bring Maya a pearl necklace with a snail shell on it. Maya looks down through the water and sees a city down there. The mermaids explain that the shell has an unlimited oxygen supply and all she needs to do is hold it in front of her mouth and she can stay underwater as long as she wants. Somehow…that doesn’t seem physically possible.
Maya goes diving and then sees a flash of light. This causes her to flash back to the time where Joey almost drowned her. She freaks out, swallows water, and splutters her way back to the surface. She then has what alcoholics refer to as a moment of stupidity and realizes that she saw the magical glowing underwater light of the mermaid city…inside a hotel pool in Florida. Not buying it.
A dolphin offers to take Maya….somewhere. Maya grabs hold and they take off. The dolphin takes her all over the entire city and shows her pretty much everything and Maya has a grand and glorious time. Finally it ends and they surface. Some mermaids talk to her and explain that Apollyon kidnapped their leader, Queen Aquamarisha, and has her captive in a water park. No, I’m not kidding about any of that. That is exactly what the text says.
I feel like pointing out that one of The Encouragers has just spent AN ENTIRE DAY goofing off and frolicking in a lagoon with mermaids and dolphins while the rest of the army actually accomplishes shit. Ah, leadership!
As they travel, Maya talks about what the seventh test will be and how she’s afraid it will be the hardest one. One of the escorts has his own wisdom to share:
“Attitude…, captain, attitude will make or break a leader and the final test for a commander of an army is his ability not only to attract but to keep his followers.” (page 203).
Wrong. The final test for a commander of an army is to fight a battle and not have all of his soldiers brutally slaughtered in a horrible defeat.
Eventually they get to the Gate:
Entire herds of dolphins were jumping (page 203).
Groups of dolphins are called schools or pods. Not herds.
“Dolphins Gate is indeed the right name for this place,” Maya remarked (page 203).
No shit, Sherlock!
*Not a typo.