Chapter Eighteen – The River Road
Chapter Eighteen – last chapter! It’s going to be a doozy. We open with a paragraph of Goel description, with several buried nuggets of stupidness:
It was as though he embodied the assurance that people wait to experience all their lives (page 173).
I don’t know about you, but I haven’t been waiting all my life to experience assurance.
And we continue on in plagiarizing C.S. Lewis, this time from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader:
“I am Goel. That is one of my names. Later, you will learn others as we grow to know each other better” (page 173).
“I am,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name” (page 541).
Goel continues and says that he’s chosen all of them. And he asks who will follow him – referring to himself in the third person, which is extremely annoying, even for a Jesus clone. And immediately they all kneel down and say yes, their voices filled with love and obedience. Which I find a little difficult to believe. Josh? Sure. Sarah? Okay. Reb, Jake, the Gemini, Volka, and Kybus? Alright, why not? But Abbey and Token have just awoken and have absolutely no reason to believe in Goel, if they even know who he is. They have seen nothing that would make them believe in him. You’d think that there would be at least some lingering doubts, or a few questions, first. But no.
Goel gives them a little verse and tells them that he’s heading out. Josh stops him and says that all the songs talk about seven Sociopaths, and there’s only six of them now. So Goel looks at him and tells him to not be afraid of asking for too much. And then he asks Josh what he wants.
Josh has a moment of doubt, and then figures, what the hey, give it a shot, right? So he says, “Goel…if you wouldn’t mind…would you bring my parents back to life?”
Er…no. He doesn’t ask that. Actually, he says that he wants Dave back in the group. And Goel’s happy. So he goes over to Dave and touches his face and starts shouting extremely loudly and telling Dave to return. Which is odd, because, if I remember my Bible correctly, I believe that the vast majority of Jesus’ miracles were small, quiet sort of affairs, generally devoid of shouting and the kind of things faith healers do on television. But Dave wakes up and he’s alive again, hooray!
Goel then decides that he’s not actually going to leave just yet, first he’s going to prophesy over them.
He tells Sarah that those she trusts the most are going to betray her. That’s comforting.
He tells Reb that his strength is his weakness, and he needs to just trust in Goel. Awesome.
He tells Jake that there’ll be a point where no one else will have faith and if he doesn’t come through in the clutch, Nuworld is screwed. Yeah…Nuworld’s screwed.
He tells Token that he’ll unlock the mystery of all destiny. I have no idea what that means.
He tells Dave that his mission – should he choose to accept it – will be more difficult than everyone else’s. Dave accepts. They’re really screwed.
He whispers something in Josh’s ear and we don’t know what it is. I’m guessing that he’s finally telling Josh he has to lead everyone.
And then he turns to Abbey and asks her if she would give up that which she prizes most. Abbey agrees. And then Goel asks her what if he asks for all her beauty? And we get another…interesting…Abbey quote:
She had traded on her beauty for years (page 177).
Traded on her beauty. Yeah. She’s a shameless slut. And only thirteen. So young. And she cries for a bit and then says she can’t. Goel gives her a hug and says that it’s okay, and someday he’ll ask her again. And then he stands up and says that they’re all now in the House of Goel and there’s thunder and lightning and wind and then he vanishes. It’s very dramatic.
Everyone stands around for a bit and then Grumpy points out that there’s still the Sanhedrin outside – doubtlessly wondering what the hell is going on with all the weird noises – and they’re still screwed. And everyone starts thinking about the verse Goel said and what the riddle means. Grumpy suddenly hears the Sanhedrin getting ready to make another charge. But Josh has an idea, and stops everyone.
“We don’t have time to do anything but obey Goel” (page 179).
Yes, but apparently we have time for you to slowly and methodically make everyone else guess what you’ve already figured out, in your last remaining seconds before the Sanhedrin charge, you rotten leader. But finally, Josh explains that the riddle said they should pass on through truth – and the big carved words on the wall have the word ‘truth’ in them. So they look, and Token spots a small lever. Josh hits it, which is odd, considering that in the last chapter the words are very high up on the wall and certainly not within reaching distance. But the door opens and everyone scurries inside and Josh hits the lever again and the door slams shut.
They walk down a dark tunnel, and after a bit reach running water. There are torches on the walls, so they light them up, and see a stream, a wharf, and five boats. Everyone hops in and pushes off. Sarah and Josh are in the last boat, and they talk for a bit about where the river leads. Josh points out that they know where it ends – in the little verse Goel gave them, it said that it leads to him. And our final quote and the last line of this book is:
“At the end of this river we’ll find Goel waiting for us!” (page 182)
Which is a great quote – really, it is, filled with hope, and not stupid at all – except for the fact that I’ve read the next book, and when they reach the end of the river, they don’t find Goel. The lying bastard.
And yeah. That’s it. The end of the first book. And really – despite my undying hatred for this book, this series, and this author, the writer in me cannot be held down. I suffer from an almost unstoppable urge to try and fix awful writing whenever I come across it, and come up with helpful advice for the author.
I really don’t know what Morris was thinking when he wrote this. Actually, I’m fairly certain he wasn’t thinking. Because the vast, vast majority of the plot holes and problems within this book and the rest of the books in the series could be solved in one simple stroke:
Change the setting to a parallel universe.
It’s a perfect solution. Through whatever means you like – hell, you could even keep the nuclear war, if you liked – send your Seven Sociopaths to an alternate universe that is some strange version of our own. It explains everything – the parallels to the Sanhedrin, Goel’s existence, the Gemini twins, giants, Magic, the different technology levels that different cultures display – all of it. It will even explain far more than just this book, providing suitable solutions for all of the idiotic places we visit in later books.
And the sad thing is – I bet the main reason why Morris didn’t use the alternate universe idea was because he figured it would be too much like Narnia.
But anyway, before we left, I thought it might be fun to sort of sum up all our beloved characters and see what progress they’d made:
- Crusoe: The requisite Wise Old Mentor. Began the book as a hideously deformed and extremely stupid old man, along with being a terrible leader and full of bad advice. Ended the book in approximately the same position, except our opinion of his intelligence has lessened.
- Grumpy and Happy: Intended to be comic relief. Grumpy has actually a tiny shred of character development as he began as a bitter dwarf who didn’t believe in anything and ended as a marginally-less-bitter dwarf who sorta-kinda believes in Goel.
- Volka: The muscle, there to get people out of situations they would need a giant’s help for. Utterly devoid of a personality.
- Elmas: Quite possibility the unscariest and least convincing (not to mention dumbest) villain I have ever read.
- The Sanhedrin: The powerful, all-pervasive police force. Incapable of dealing with probably the stupidest Chosen Ones ever created. Teleporters.
- Kybus: There for Deus ex Machina. Devoid of anything resembling a personality.
- Rama and Amar: Possibly the most useless characters I have ever encountered. They have no lines, no personality, and do absolutely nothing that affects the story or the characters in any way.
- Hunter: No personality, but still a rather interesting (if completely impossible) concept.
And, of course, our Sociopaths:
- Token: He’s black. He started the book black and he’s still black.
- Abbey: A spoiled whore. Marginally interesting for her inclusion into an obviously Christian book, but has around four lines and does not affect the plot at all.
- Reb: Began as an amoral, tough, racist Southerner with a Civil War fetish. Ended as an amoral, tough, slightly-less-racist Southerner with a Civil War fetish. I guess that’s something.
- Jake: He has red hair. And he’s a bit fiery. At least, the narrator tells us this a few times. Affects the plot even less than Abbey.
- Dave: Begins as a pretentious, yet good-looking douchebag. Ignores helpful advice and ends up nearly getting everyone killed. Eventually dies without redeeming himself, and is brought back to life. No evidence, as of yet, that he’s stopped being a pretentious yet good-looking douchebag.
- Sarah: Moody, hormonal Love Interest with extremely poor judgment. Does not handle being on her period well. Has not changed.
- Josh: Our Reluctant Leader. Began the series as a gangly, unconfident male, a poor planner, and as dumb as a post. Ended the series as a gangly, unconfident male, a poor planner, and dumber than a post. Cannot recognize his own father and throws girls off of buildings.
These are our saviors, gentle reader.
I was going to end here, but just the other day I discovered something that was the icing on the cake. A delightful little tidbit after the end of the book:
If you’ve enjoyed The Seven Sleepers Series, you’ll love Gilbert Morrris’ new series, The Daystar Voyages. (page 183)
Yeah. They spelled Morris with three R’s. Proofreading? What’s that?
And that about sums it up for Book One. But please come back and join us for Book Two. We’re going to Atlantis. Seriously.