Chapter Fifteen – Perilous Journey
Sarah is sleeping. But suddenly, out of nowhere, comes a voice. Calling her name. It’s the voice of Deus ex Machina. And it suddenly just occurred to me exactly how funny that phrase is, because whenever Goel pops up to bail them out, it really is an act of God. Unfortunately for Morris, it’s still a shitty literary device, no matter how he spins it.
Finally she wakes up and looks around. Everyone else is asleep. Goel continues to talk to her. She recognizes his voice, and understands his extremely awkward phrasing:
Listen carefully, Sarah, for I have a difficult task indeed for anyone to perform (page 129).
Sarah apologizes for lying about what Goel told her to do. Goel says that he forgives her and he believes that through this, she’s learned to trust him. What? How about she’s learned not to lie about what he tells her to do? How, exactly, did trust figure into this at all?
Goel continues to talk to her. Like Yoda, he does sound. And like last time, do we not hear what his instructions are. But Sarah does and agrees. So she goes to the prison door and it opens easily. Outside, the guards are frozen and staring straight ahead. So basically this entire place is under the power of Goel. Sarah could easily rescue all of her friends, but that would be going against what Goel said. So she walks through the place and manages, in the dead of night, to find her way straight back to where they came in. She goes through the tunnel, up the ladder, out of the volcano, and down to the beach, where she puts on her diving suit and waits.
After a bit a giant killer whale shows up, wearing a strap around it. Sarah climbs on, grabs the strap, and the killer whale takes off, and Morris abruptly begins referring to it as a sea beast. Just call it a killer whale, honestly.
We then skip over to Princess Jere’s POV. She’s apparently a very light sleeper. So she hears a quiet sound at the door and immediately vaults out of bed, grabs a dagger, and when the door opens she grabs the figure by the throat and raises her dagger to kill it. It’s very dramatic and shows us that she’s a Spunky Princess, which is great, but I mean, come on. She’s the Princess, inside her family’s castle. Does she really need to whip out her dagger and try to stab anyone who blunders past her door? Doesn’t a princess, I dunno, have an armed guard outside, and several ladies-in-waiting sitting around helpfully? Exactly how dangerous is this joint?
But before she can stab her, the figure identifies herself as Sarah. Damn. It would have been hilarious if Jere had stabbed her first. Jere is angry. She asks why Sarah has come back, if not to betray them again? Why, exactly, a traitor would return to the people he betrayed and try to betray them again, I don’t know, and even someone as clueless as Sarah should know that, so her presence alone should be a subtle clue that maybe something is afoot. Sarah denies that they’ve betrayed them. And we get a stupid quote:
“Everyone knows what you did,” Jere said. “You left with Valar, and you have gone over to the enemy.” (page 132)
Reasonable enough, but I wonder exactly how they knew where the Sociopaths had gone. I doubt Aramis gave them a courtesy call to let them know the Sociopaths had arrived, and it’s not like any of their men had seen where they’d went. But Sarah starts pleading. Morris mentions that her hair is wet, and she brought a sense of vulnerability. Really. I have no idea why this sentence is in here. But she explains that Goel told them to leave and she screwed up and now everyone is screwed unless…Princess Jere goes back with them to see Aramis.
Jere looks at her as if she’s nuts, and points out what a perfect hostage she would make, and how her father would give up the kingdom for her. Yeah, except you went gallivanting off by your lonesome to find the Sociopaths at the beginning of the book, Jere, so that’s not gonna fly. And we get more stupid quote goodness:
Jere, for the next twenty minutes, shot questions at Sarah, trying to trip her up in her story, but she could not (page 133).
Twenty minutes. Of asking a question, and Sarah replying “Because Goel said so.” “Goel saved us.” “Goel told me to.” “Goel helped Josh do it.” “Deus ex Machina.” Twenty minutes trying to trip up in a story that’s patently ridiculous to anyone who doesn’t believe in Goel, which Jere obviously does. Finally Jere says she believes her, but wants to know what she can do. Sarah explains that they can’t win through military strength, but only through the power of love. Because Jere loves Aramis. Jere denies this, because Aramis is a traitor. But Sarah explains that Duke Lenomar has warped Aramis’ mind and only Jere can bring him to his senses again. Jere decides that her life is meaningless without her true love, so she might as well go.
Chapter Sixteen – Strongest Force of All
The other Sociopaths debate where Sarah has gone. They think it might be some sort of trick of Duke Lenomar. The narration informs us that Lenomar has been taking them, one by one, and interrogating them as to what Goel is up to. I assume that Lenomar has noticed one of his captives is mysteriously missing, and I also assume that Lenomar would probably question the remaining Sociopaths about this, so they should know that it’s not just some trick of Lenomar’s. Then again, maybe Lenomar can’t count past five.
Dave and Abbey talk for a bit about Goel’s promises to them at the end of the last book. Dave, hilariously, points out that Goel said that he was going to have a task that was harder than anyone else’s. And since he hasn’t gotten that task yet, it must mean that they’re not going to die. This would be funnier if there was even the slightest chance of any of the Sociopaths dying.
We skip over to Jake and Reb and Wash talking, and there’s literally an entire string of idiotic quotes in a row:
None of them spoke of the specifics of the execution, but he knew they were all high-strung.
Yeah. There’s just something about the prospect of being eaten alive by sharks that keeps everyone jumpy.
“I sometimes wonder why I was ever picked for this job,” Jake said. “Doesn’t seem like I add much to the group.”
Don’t we all wonder, Jake. Don’t we all. Because really, buddy, you don’t add a thing.
“…somehow us Sleepers have got more to do than die in a shark tank.” Then he realized what he had said. “Sorry, didn’t mean to get too specific.” (page 137)
Specific? Specific would be discussing whether the sharks had laser beams attached to their heads to cook the Sociopaths before they ate them.
Finally the doors open and some guards pop inside to take them to their execution. The chief guard says he’s sorry. Josh is surprised. The guard says he really is sorry, because his brother was one of the guys whose life they spared. So he’s sorry, but not that sorry. He exchanges some cheery dialogue with the people he’s about to murder about how he realizes that the evil Duke Lenomar has Aramis’ mind under control. The hell? And he’s not going to do anything about it? Lenomar obviously has an extremely weak grip on Aramis, you’d think that someone, at least, might be inspired to try and break it.
Josh says some dramatic stuff about showing that they aren’t afraid to die, and the guard nods in approval, and the other Sociopaths are slightly cheered. Then they head into the room. There’s a giant shark-tank in there, and Lord Aramis, Duke Lenomar, and a punch of random peons. Aramis looks confused. He mentions that the Sociopaths are small. Lenomar says that evil comes in little packages. Not really, but that’s the general idea. Finally Aramis asks Josh if they have anything to say. Josh shouts out a cheer for King Cosmos, Atlantis, and Goel. And he notices everyone in the room twitching. Most of the people there, apparently, are big King Cosmos fans. Even though they revolted against him.
Lenomar tries to have them tossed into the tank but Aramis yells at him to stop giving orders. Aramis then rambles for a few paragraphs about fighting faithfully and not wanting to kill innocents…and then suddenly, randomly, Jere arrives. Because she’s easily penetrated the impenetrable Citadel of Neptune and waltzed right into the execution chamber.
And then immediately about half the people in the room jump up and start shouting “Hail Princess Jere.” Even though they revolted against her and her father. Right. That makes sense.
Lenomar surreptitiously whispers to his lieutenant that things are going badly. So, on his signal, kill Aramis and Princess Jere. Yep, that’s going to go over really well with a roomful of Cosmos supporters. Unfortunately, Josh overhears this.
Aramis tells Jere that by coming here, she’s forfeited her life. What? Forfeited her life? No, she’s basically screwed her father, lost her kingdom, and become a hostage. Forfeiting her life never even entered the picture. But Jere says that she knows that but she doesn’t care, because she loves Atlantis, like he does. And she goes on to say that her parents still love him, because love endures, and it always forgives. This would be much more convincing if the last chapter Jere hadn’t been ranting about how she no longer loved Aramis because he’s a traitor.
Aramis walks down to where Jere is. Coincidentally, he’s also standing right next to where the Sociopaths are. Coincidentally, none of the Sociopaths are tied up or restrained in any way. Aramis asks if Jere still loves him. Jere says she does. Aramis twitches a bit and starts to come back, and a few moments later, he’s back to himself, and says that he doesn’t know what came over him. And then Lenomar gives the order. One of his underlings whips up his spear gun. Josh tackles Aramis and knocks him out of the way so a dart misses his head by inches. And Aramis’ guards start fighting Lenomar’s guards. Josh grabs a sword and stabs someone who’s about to kill Sarah. Then Lenomar gets shot and the rest of his sleazy underlings surrender. And then….well, that’s it, actually.
Aramis kisses Jere in front of everyone, then drops to his knee and swears loyalty to King Cosmos. Everyone’s happy, because they really liked King Cosmos, and only committed treason with Aramis because they liked Aramis more and now that Aramis has switched his loyalties back they’re happy to be back with Cosmos.
Sarah is staring at Aramis and Jere, enraptured. Josh looks at her and tells her that she’s a romantic.
Sarah smiles, then whispered, “That’s what the world comes down to, Josh – one man and one woman.” (page 144)
Yes. And there are moments, sometimes, when that one man and that one woman take their clothes off – oh, right, children’s Christian fantasy novel. Unintended sexual reference. Again.
Chapter Seventeen – What Next?
There’s a giant feast in Atlantis. Up on the dais sits King Cosmos, Queen Mab, Princess Jere, and Aramis. They’re all happy. Aramis is holding Jere’s hand. It’s very romantic.
Sarah is wearing a dress that Jere lent her. It has a frothy bodice. I looked frothy up. Either Sarah’s bodice contains foam, or it’s unsubstantial, shallow, and empty. Either way, that’s a lot of attention to be drawing to the bodice of a 14-year-old girl.
The Sociopaths talk. Apparently Aramis is going to marry Jere and he’ll be the next king, so Cosmos is happy. They glance over at Valar, who’s lost a lot of weight, and who’s sitting by an armed guard, and who’s been kept under house arrest. That’s fair. Welcome back Aramis with open arms, even though he committed treason and revolted against the king and probably killed a lot of innocent people in the process. Valar, who switched sides when he knew the game was up? No luck there, buddy.
Sarah goes over to sit next to Valar. He apologizes for betraying her, and she tells him that everyone still loves him and will give him another chance. That’s nice of them. I guess the armed guard is just to teach him a lesson.
King Cosmos – I still can’t believe that’s his name – calls them before the throne. He talks about what a wonderful thing they did and makes a long speech and everyone’s very embarrassed, as well they should be, because this is one instance where the heroes do not deserve any praise they’re getting, at all.
After the party is over they get shown back to their room. And Goel is waiting there. He tells them they did well. Sorry – hang on a moment.
Okay. I’m good now.
Goel explains that Atlantis is good, the Dark Lord isn’t going to take over this part of Nuworld. I guess Elmas is toast. Oh well. Good knowing you, li’l buddy. Goel tells them that they’re leaving and to grab their stuff. They do so, and follow him towards the air lock. On the way, Sarah bumps into Princess Jere. They hug and Jere pats her cheek and tells Sarah that one woman can always recognize another woman who’s in love. Awww.
Sarah goes to catch up with the others. She falls in step with Josh and mentions that he’s getting taller, and that she likes tall men. Josh is stunned. But then he says that that’s good, because he can’t really do anything about being tall. They share a Moment, and then Goel tells them to come along, because he has a task for them.
And then the book ends.
Sweet merciful Jesus, it’s over.
With a book like this, the only way to really comprehend its badness is by viewing the thing as a whole. For those of you who have blocked out parts of this abomination of a novel, here’s a refresher of what happened:
- Goel sends them to Atlantis
- Goel tells them to leave Atlantis and talk to Aramis
- Sarah disobeys Goel
- They reach the Citadel and are tossed in prison
- Goel bails out Sarah and tells her to fetch Jere
- Upon seeing Jere, Aramis becomes Good again.
Which raises a lot of questions.
The first and most pressing question is why, exactly, Goel bothered to send them in the first place. The reason is obvious – if he hadn’t, we wouldn’t have a story. But even so. What, exactly, did the Sociopaths do? Nothing, really. Sarah talked Jere into going and telling Aramis she loved him which solved the problem. The main problem with many stories like this is why the celestial power – in this case, Goel – doesn’t just do stuff himself. The general reason is because he wants his servants to solve problems themselves. But in this case, the Sociopaths didn’t solve anything, and they didn’t actually do anything, or even learn anything. Even if Goel didn’t want to get Aramis straightened out by himself, he could have accomplished the exact same thing by going to Jere and telling her to go talk to Aramis. She’s a servant of Goel, why couldn’t he simply have done that?
For that matter, if Goel knew that Jere was the only person who could get Aramis straightened out, why didn’t he tell them to bring Jere along in the first place? Unless, of course, he knew Sarah was going to lie and bring Valar along because they needed a guide, in which case Goel was basically forcing Sarah into lying about his commands, which makes Goel a manipulative bastard.
Regardless, it’s pretty sad to have an entire novel where the main characters, the heralded Seven Sociopaths, the bringers of light, wisdom, understanding, and hope to a land under attack, the saviors of the known world…do absolutely nothing and affect the plot not at all. Literally. They did not do anything that could not have been accomplished much easier without their presence. In fact, since the Sociopaths’ presence caused the fight between Aramis and Lenomar, it could be argued that the only thing they did was cause the death of a bunch of innocent bystanders.
And somehow, I get the feeling that as the series progresses, we’re going to see a lot more of that. So join us, if you will, as we journey into the wonderful and mystical world that only appears in the future after a terrible nuclear war…I am talking, as you may have guessed, about Camelot. Knights! Jousting! Dragons! Plagiarism! Deus ex Machina! It’s all there, and much, much more.