Chapter Fourteen – The Pride of Sir Reb
Now that the dragon is here, everyone in Camelot is terrified and walks in fear:
Even the flight of a crow overhead was sufficient for men, women, and children to drop their tools and run screaming for shelter (page 131).
Even the flight of a crow. Now, if I was fearing a dragon attack, I would certainly keep one eye on the skies at all time, and I think it’s safe to say that a sudden movement, or shadow, would be enough to make me flinch involuntarily, maybe even duck or drop to the ground while I looked to see what it was. But a crow, flying overhead? Run screaming for shelter? Not hardly.
Apparently the dragon is attacking places completely randomly, which tells us two things: First, it can apparently teleport, like the Sanhedrin. Second, Melchior is an idiot. If you have a giant dragon that can kill people just by coughing on them, and you have the ability to send it wherever you like, why not set it on Camelot straightaway, let it slaughter the inhabitants, and then establish yourself as ruler of the kingdom in service to the Dark Lord?
There’s a council at Camelot. King Dion is upset, so he’s angry, and he shouts at his counselors, just like most good rulers do. Sir Gwin explains that they’ve sent their three best knights to fight it. Why he’s saying this, I don’t know. Everyone obviously knows this – oh right, exposition. Sir Gwin goes on to explain exactly how the dragon killed them. And then we get this gem from the king:
“Are you a coward, Gwin? Are you afraid to face this beast yourself?” (page 131)
What a fine king this chap is. Accusing your most trusted knights of cowardice…it’s brilliant. I mean, calling someone a coward nowadays is a pretty good insult, but in medieval days it was the kind of the thing that started duels to the death. I recall a lovely scene in Prince Caspian where Miraz was stabbed in the back by one of his own henchmen (literally and actually speaking) for such an insult. Unfortunately, it’s too much to hope that something like that will happen here. Queen Mauve tsks at her husband, King Dion apologizes, and the entire thing is quickly forgotten and never mentioned again.
Everyone talks for awhile. Finally someone says, why don’t they bring in the Seven Sociopaths? Prince Loren doesn’t think much of inviting children in, but Princess Elaine says they should look to Elendar. Sage advice, I suppose, although this is the guy who’s plan to get Reb out of the Dark Lord’s power is to do nothing at all. Then again, I have to wonder why Elaine is there at all. Loren, at least, has the excuse of learning how to rule.
Elendar stares at the floor to think. And we get a stupid quote:
All were aware that he was thinking profoundly, and they had grown so accustomed to waiting on his wisdom that the silence grew thick even as it grew longer (page 132).
Earlier in the book, Elendar was complaining that King Dion was ignoring his advice. We have seen absolutely nothing to suggest that anything is changed in this regard. And I have no idea why the silence is growing thick. But finally Elendar looks up and says that Elaine is probably right. Or, in other words, the seer’s wisdom is to parrot back what a teenage girl said. And we get a number of hilarious quotes in a row:
“Children they are not. They are wise and have been tried in the hard school of adversity. They have remained faithful to Goel when others have faltered” (page 133).
They are children, they are not wise, they haven’t really been tried at all, and yes they have remained faithful, except for Dave’s betrayal, Sarah lying about Goel’s commands, and oh yes, have we forgotten that Reb is currently under the power of the Dark Lord???
We cut the Sociopaths. Sir Gwin comes in and tells them that they’ve been summoned. They talk for a bit about the dragon, and Jake mentions he wishes he had an AK-7 attack rifle. I’m not sure what an AK-7 is, maybe it’s some distant relative of the AK-47. It’s worth mentioning that even if an AK-7 is a real gun, any snot-nosed 13-year-old would not think of that, they’d think of an AK-47 or, perhaps, an M16.
Reb comes in and tells everyone to hurry up and not keep the king waiting. His bossiness upsets Josh, and he complains to Sarah.
“He’s gotten unbearable, and I don’t know what to do about it. […] If he can whip full-grown knights, what chance would I have to make him listen to me? He’d pound me into the ground?” (page 134)
I love how Josh’s only idea for making Reb listen is to beat him in a fight.
The Sociopaths walk in to the council-room. Elendar talks about Goel and how he must have sent them to Camelot to do something. He then asks how they’re going to do that something. I think a better question might be how they’re going to figure out what they’re supposed to do, and once they know that, they can start to figure out how. But Reb says that he knows.
He had met with Mogen the night before. She stayed with him long (page 135).
Yeah. Reb’s getting some. But Mogen had told him this was going to happen, and also said that power was within his grasp. Which sounds good to him. So he says that he’ll fight the dragon.
“Reb,” Josh broke in, appalled, “that’s not for you to say” (page 135).
Then who is it for to say?
King Dion says that there was a prophecy that no man could defeat a monster of the Dark Lord, and they think that this is that monster. Reb pulls out his sword and waves it around. Apparently he hasn’t been told that this is a rather stupid thing to do. But he says that he’ll kill the dragon. King Dion agrees, and Reb walks out of the room. And…
Josh felt great fear, for he had learned to love Bob Lee Jackson. True, of late he had been somewhat swollen with pride, but that did not change what the two had shared (page 137).
Yes. Right. What the two of them had shared. In their love. And swollenness.
Josh goes after Reb to volunteer to be his squire. Reb says no, he’s not taking anyone with him. And finally, for the first time, someone actually tries to talk to Reb, and explain how he’s changed. And it almost works, except Reb is in a hurry, and so he says they’ll talk when he gets back. Great. So perhaps if someone had bothered to talk to him before, we could have avoided this entire mess.
Chapter Fifteen – Encounter with a Dragon
Just as a warning – this chapter is, by far, the most disgustingly shallow, plagiaristic, and nauseating chapter in not only this entire book, but possibly the entire series. Upon reading it, I threw up in my mouth. Literally.
We open in Elaine’s POV. She’s not sleeping well. Finally she gets up and walks down to a parapet and stands looking out over the castle. Suddenly she realizes someone else is there, and starts to freak out, because she’s never seen him before. But then she looks at him and feels calm, and he introduces himself as Goel.
Elaine curtsies and makes nice, and Goel says that he wants her to be his handmaiden, which doesn’t sound even slightly creepy. Elaine immediately says she’s not worthy to be a servant of Goel. Goel says that everyone is called. And they exchange some more fairly standard dialogue and finally he explains that he has a task for her, as part of the plan he’s devised to save Camelot.
We then cut over to Reb. He’s getting ready to leave and suddenly Mogen appears. We get a bit of internal dialogue where he reflects about how he’s getting addicted to Mogen, and freaking out when she doesn’t appear for too long. We also learn that the previous night he took the medallion off to bathe and instantly was terrified of everything until he put it back on. Which isn’t ominous or anything.
Mogen says it’s time to prove himself, and that he and she are going to rule together when he gets back from killing the dragon. She goes into her speaking random gibberish phase, tells him to go to the Valley of the Stone where he’ll find the dragon, and vanishes.
Reb heads out the gates and is met by someone, who says that he’s going to be Reb’s squire. Reb tells him that he doesn’t need a squire, but the chap says he’s been sent by Goel. The name makes Reb suddenly afraid for some reason. He tries to see the person’s face, but it’s masked by a hood. And, instead of ordering the person to take off their hood, like I’d do in that situation, he merely says fine and takes off, trying to outdistance them, and failing.
They reach the Valley. The ground vibrates. Reb thinks about his life. He’s carrying a lance that Mogen said was charmed. All he has to do is stab the dragon with the tip and the dragon will die.
After a bit he hears the dragon approaching. He jumps off Thunder, tells the squire to hold the horses, and goes forward to fight. The dragon lands before him and is big and very menacing. He tries to stab it, but it instantly knocks his sword and lance away and knocks Reb to the ground. So he whips out the medallion, shouts the magic phrase – and nothing happens. So the dragon eats him.
No wait. Instead the dragon just sits there, waiting, like an extra in a bad action movie. Then Mogen appears, and changes into an old women. And we get this gem:
“You fool! […] Now you know who I am. You were such an easy prey. Now you will taste what it is like to be under the power of the Dark Lord!” (page 146).
Right. So yeah. This was Mogen’s entire plan. Give Reb the medallion, let him rescue Princess Elaine, get his ego worked up, get him to face the dragon – and then let the dragon kill him. How this is really going to help the Dark Lord, I don’t know. If she just needed to kill Reb, she’s had dozens of opportunities to do it. Such as, when they were…doing it. Instead, she gave Reb the ability to rescue Princess Elaine – which was detrimental to Melchior’s plan to take over the kingdom, so basically Mogen has done nothing but further ruin the Dark Lord’s plans. And she’s an utter idiot. And it doesn’t even make sense. After Reb defeated the dragon, with some more finagling she could, conceivably, have him take over the kingdom with Melchior’s help, and then rule herself. Instead, her entire scheme was just a thoroughly useless exercise to get Reb killed when she could have done it much faster and much easier.
Reb grabs the lance and tries to stab the dragon again, but the dragon smashes the lance and bites his arm and he feels the poison spreading through his body. I’m not sure why the dragon simply doesn’t breathe on him, since its breath is poisonous and kills people in seconds flat. But anyway. Suddenly his squire steps up and fits an arrow to his bow. Mogen shouts at him. And then comes the most disgusting, abhorrent, and downright shameless theft that I’ve ever seen:
Mogen shouted, “You do not know the ancient prophecy! No man can stand before this beast!”
And then Reb heard a clear voice cry out, “But I am no man! I am Princess Elaine, daughter of the king of Camelot!” (page 147).
Just to refresh your memory, here’s the relevant scene from Return of the King:
“No living man may hinder me!”
…the clear voice was like the ring of steel. “But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Eowyn I am, Eomund’s daughter.”
Did Morris seriously think he could rip off one of the best-known and most remembered scenes from arguably the most famous fantasy novel ever written and get away with it? Because if he did, I have even higher levels of respect for this guy’s stupidity. As in, I’m amazed he’s made it through life without getting run over by a cement mixer.
But anyway. Reb and Elaine yell at each other a few times. During which the dragon still doesn’t attack and kill him. Finally Elaine ‘cocks’ the bow – how she does this, I still don’t know – and shoots the dragon in the underbelly. The arrow vanishes beneath the feathers. Yes. Feathers. This instantly kills the dragon.
Elaine tells Mogen to piss off or she’ll meet the same fate. And apparently Mogen does this. I’m not sure why, since is seems that Mogen is pretty powerful. Elaine rushes up to Reb and caresses his face and tells him not to die. Reb says it’s too late for that, and the chapter ends.
No, he doesn’t die. This is book three, guys. C’mon.
Chapter Sixteen – The Darkest Hour
Reb’s lying in bed. Badly poisoned. Quite sick. Still alive. Odd, considering how in previous chapters we saw the dragon breathe on people, and they fell over dead. In seconds flat. Reb was bitten. Poisoned. He’s clinging to life, because he’s Just That Speshul.
They chat with the doctor. He talks about how Reb for some reason won’t come out of his coma. Because medieval doctors use words like ‘coma’.
They talk about what happens and wonder what’s going on. Elendar suddenly walks in and says he can explain it. Hilariously, his name is misspelled as ‘Elander’. He talks about how Princess Elaine has confirmed what he suspected from what Token said. He mentions that he made Token keep his mouth shut, but doesn’t explain why he needed Token to stay silent or why anything has changed now. But he explains about how Mogen is a foul witch and one of the most Evil people to ever walk the earth. Ah, she’s Evil. I guess that explains her utter incompetence.
Elendar pulls out the medallion that Reb was wearing, and explains that the sign on it is the sign of the Dark Lord. He’s going to destroy it, but he wants them to see it so they know it. Wow, it would’ve been really helpful if maybe Crusoe had shown it to them back in book 1. Elendar goes on to explain that Mogen’s Dark Power still rests upon Reb, and it’s past the skill of any doctors to remove that. But he can help.
And now, just in case anyone had any lingering doubts (hah!), Morris decides to pull down his trousers and take a long, lingering dump on Tolkien’s grave. The following scene is more or less an exact duplicate of the scene in the Houses of Healing where Aragorn heals Eowyn and Merry from the Black Breath.
Elendar gets out a basin of water. He pulls out some leaves, crumbles them, and puts them in the water. At once an odor fills the room. He says that it’s the leaf of the carmine tree, and it’s helpful in these situations. So everyone brightens up for a bit, and they wait for a bit – and Elendar calls Reb’s name and tells him to come back. And Reb wakes up.
Hang on, I need to go throw up.
Right. Okay. So they talk to Reb and Reb goes over his memories and there’s nothing new, although everyone notes that he sounds a lot more humble and like himself. Finally everyone leaves except Elaine, and he says she saved his life. She says it was Goel. He talks for a bit about how stupid he’s been behaving, and how she must hate him. Elaine says it’s no big deal. And finally he goes to sleep.
We cut over to the council. Melchior has marched on them and already he has the castle surrounded. Teleportation, yes! Apparently they don’t have scouts or anything like that, so they’re not that well-prepared for a siege. Also, Melchior has three times as many men as they do. They ask Elendar again what he thinks. The only thing he can come up with is having Right on their side. Ah, Right. What would we do without you?