Chapter Seventeen – Traitor Redeemed
I think it’s worth commenting just once more on the utter idiocy of the chapter titles in this book. Traitor redeemed – I wonder if that means Dave is coming back? Morris seems intent upon giving away the ‘surprises’ in his book at the earliest and worst opportunity. Even Paolini wasn’t this stupid.
Jake and Abbey talk about how long they’re going to have to stay there. Reb says that he thinks the Sanhedrin will be there before too long. The guys surreptitiously make fun of Abbey for being the spoiled brat she is, and Abbey asks why Josh won’t stop sulking and get on with it. And then we get a…well, an interesting quote:
Then she glanced slyly at Reb, adding sweetly, “But I know that the rest of us could handle things quite nicely if Josh is just too busy.” (page 166)
And I bet I know exactly what you want to ‘handle’, you shameless thirteen-year-old whore.
We cut over to Josh and Sarah who are talking. Sarah asks how many days they’ve been there. Josh looks at some scratches he’s been making marks with, and says two weeks. He helpfully exposits that if they hadn’t snared those rabbits and found the greens and onions, they would have starved to death. I’m sorry, what? They’re on a spire of rock that sticks up several hundred feet out of the barren, rocky desert and you’re catching rabbits and finding onions?
Sarah asks if they’re going to wait much longer. And Josh responds with what has got to be one of the stupidest quotes in the history of stupid quotes – not so much for what he says, exactly, but for the implications that it has:
“I don’t know, Sarah. I guess after Dad died I was kind of shook up. But even now I don’t know what we can do. I think I’m waiting for a miracle, and I don’t even know what kind of miracle we need” (page 166).
Which makes me ask – and it’s not going to be the last time, let me tell you – what the hell is wrong with these people?
They know the Sanhedrin are coming for them. They know that when they get there they’re going to be captured or killed, and probably the latter. And because Josh is ‘kind of shook up’ every single other person there has done nothing for the past two weeks??? According to the map, they’re not that far from the mountains. Why don’t they take what limited supplies they have and head for them, instead of sitting around waiting for a certain death? For that matter, why didn’t they plan ahead a little and keep the eagles around to give themselves a ride somewhere else? I don’t necessarily expect any of the other Sociopaths to think of these things, being dim bulbs all, but what about Grumpy, Happy, Volka, Kybus?
Suddenly Josh spots a fire, off in the distance. They head back inside and find the Hunters back from a reconnaissance mission. It’s the Sanhedrin – two days away. They talk about defenses, and Reb points out that there’s ten different paths coming up the sides of a sheer rock spire, which is a pretty amazing feat of construction, if you ask me. And they can’t watch all of them – even though they have fifteen people there. So they decide to make their stand there, in the building. Josh tells Volka to put stones in front of all the openings with just enough room to shoot through.
Two days later the Sanhedrin begin their attack by launching balls of flaming oil at the building. Really. And more stupid quote goodness:
[Reb] turned to Josh, and his eyes were alight with the joy of the battle. “Just like the Battle of Shiloh, ain’t it, Josh?” (page 169).
Because A) it’s great when 14-year-olds get the joy of the battle, B) everyone gets the joy of the battle before they’ve done a single thing aside from dumping dirt on a fire, and C) – it’s not anything like the Battle of Shiloh. Especially from a Confederate point of view.
But suddenly a guard leaps through a side door and throws a spear at Reb’s back. In the ensuing time – I’m going to guess maybe an eighth of a second – Token recognizes the danger, makes a decision, and tackles Reb, knocking him out of the way just before the spear passes through the space Reb was occupying. The spear imbeds itself in the stone wall. Must be some point on that thing. Then Volka throws the guard out and rolls a stone in front of the door, which makes me wonder why Volka didn’t block up the openings like Josh told him to do. Oh right – so this could happen.
Reb looks at the spear, and then at Token. And then he offers Token his hand. There’s a long moment. Reb says thankee. (Really) And finally Token takes his hand, and they’re suddenly friends and have overcome their differences. And my soul weeps at the wasted opportunity for character development.
Because what would have been really great – had this series been written by a competent author, maybe – would be to have Reb, the racist, and Token, the black kid, thrust together by events beyond their control. Naturally, they would dislike each other, but slowly, as time passed, they could learn to overcome their differences. Reb could learn that Token was just like everyone else there (apart from being the token black guy, of course) and slowly he would overcome his prejudices and they could become friends. Instead, we get a single reference to Reb’s racist state of mind. And then, one chapter later, Token saves his life, and that hurdle has been cleared and will never be mentioned again.
But anyway. I realize I’m dreaming – there will be no character development here. We flash forward to that night. Apparently, there’s been heavy casualties all around. The well-trained, well-fed, professional soldiers of the Sanhedrin have been slaughtered to the extent that their bodies are stacked up in the openings (which Volka, I guess, has still not covered). And the rag-tag band of untrained, starving kids and dwarves have sustained some minor wounds. I ask you, Morris: would it really have been so terrible to kill off some of the extra baggage? The extra Gemini twins haven’t even gotten a single line of dialogue yet, or a shred of personality, let alone a reason for existing (be silent, Twain’s Rule #4).
Josh and Sarah exchange some really, really pointless dialogue, and then suddenly someone hears a scraping sound coming towards them. Everyone is poised, with drawn swords. And someone crawls in the door. It’s Dave. They carry him inside. After a bit he wakes up and says that he’s back. Josh asks him how he got there, which is a question very much on my mind as well. And Dave has a good reply:
“They wanted me to – tell everything – about the Sleepers – and they made me – they made me – ” (page 171).
And believe it or not, that’s all the explanation we’ll get. It’s pretty simple to figure out – Morris needed a way to easily get Dave back with the rest of the group. So the Sanhedrin, for some reason, decided to take him along with them when they teleported hundreds of miles across the desert. And then, for some reason, they decided to let him go and crawl inside the fortress where the rest of his friends were hiding – instead of doing something intelligent, like use him as a bargaining chip.
Dave asks if they think Goel will let him in his House. Immediately everyone says yes. I can’t help but think that one of them – Grumpy, at least – would say “I dunno, Dave, you betrayed all of us, I think you’re pretty much screwed”, but then again, this is a Christian novel. Everyone’s very forgiving. And Dave smiles happily. And then he dies.
No one’s really sad. They mention that he’s gone now, and then comes the stupid quote goodness:
In the middle of the silence, Mat said all of a sudden, “Well, there is our miracle – if we need it.”
“Yes,” Sarah shivered. “It’s going to be easier to believe in Goel after this.” (page 172)
Dave randomly appeared and said a few words before dying, and now it’s going to be easier to believe in Goel? And what, exactly, was the miracle? If Dave had mentioned the Sanhedrin suddenly not seeing him and his chains falling off so he could crawl into the room where they were, that could be a miracle, but as it is, nothing has happened that can’t be firmly attributed to author stupidity.
Josh mutters about how if only they could get out of there. And suddenly a voice says that they can leave whenever they want. Everyone jumps. And it’s Goel, mysteriously appearing from the shadows. And then the chapter ends. And I wonder – what, exactly did Dave do to redeem himself? He showed up and died? He couldn’t even do something moderately heroic? Even Edmund got to break the Witch’s wand. And don’t tell me that escaping the Sanhedrin was heroic. A blind paraplegic could outwit them using trained grasshoppers.