Chapter Six – A Home in the Forest
Life goes on. They learn more about chivalry. None of it is interesting or will affect the plot in any way. Then, for no particular reason, they go riding in the forest. Well, Elendar told them they should learn the lay of the land, because it may come in handy. Will it? I’m guessing no.
So they head out riding and it’s about lunchtime and they’re all hungry and they see a house. Jake wants to see if they can buy some food.
Josh shook his head. “They don’t use money here, Jake – not very much. At least the poor people don’t” (page 55).
So they have money…but the peasants don’t use it? And why, exactly, if they were going to be out riding all day, didn’t they take any food along with them? Well, because if they had, we wouldn’t get this contrived scene.
The wife comes out with a bunch of children behind her, and the man plowing a field comes running over to them. He’s very polite and addresses them as sirs. Josh asks if they could rest there and maybe he’d sell them some food. Even though they don’t use money here – much. But this peasant offers to feed and water their horses for them. Because he has lots of extra food for seven horses sitting around.
The Sociopaths climb off their horses and look around, noticing just how desperately poor and run-down the place looks. And Jake says:
“We have to be careful not to hurt their feelings” (page 56).
Because Goel forbid you let a peasant know he’s poor.
Sarah goes off to teach the four kids how to play hide-and-seek. The man, whose name is Will, grabs a bow and arrows and heads off to shoot something for dinner. His wife starts to protest but he tells her to shut up and heads out. File this one under ‘obvious foreshadowing that flies clean over the heads of our beloved Sociopaths’.
The boys stand around and talk about how the people are very backward here and they go into the woods where game is cavorting happily around without a care in the world. Finally they head back and Will is there, with a buck hung up, cutting it. His wife is already roasting part of it. Blah blah, they start eating and it’s delicious, just like unseasoned meat usually is. Sarah, in particular, holds it in high esteem:
“I never had a better meal at McDonald’s – not even a ‘Happy Meal’ – did you, Abigail?” (page 59).
Ye gods and things on toast.
Seriously? You find something delicious and the only thing you can compare it to is a Happy Meal at McDonald’s?
In addition to the venison, they also have a baked potatoes and – you know what, hang on, I need to get something out.
THESE PEOPLE ARE FUCKING PEASANTS. SERFS. POOR! THEY CANNOT AFFORD TO FEED SEVEN HORSES AND SEVEN EXTRA PEOPLE AND STOP WORKING TO ENTERTAIN YOUR STUPID ASSES FOR HALF THE DAY!
Seriously. Morris spends two and a half pages drumming up how desperately poor these people are. At the beginning Josh offers to buy food with money they don’t have that the peasants can’t apparently spend, and then they never actually pay for it or recompense the peasants in any way.
So then Elendar randomly shows up and asks for some food and gets it. Make that eight. They sit and eat and then they hear horses. It’s the king and his hunting party! They ride up and King Dion notices the deer carcass and demands to know who has killed the king’s deer. Ah yes, who would have guessed, the penalty for killing a king’s deer is to have your hand chopped off.
So Will is a total dumbass. First, because the woods are full of rabbits, and presumably nobody cares if you kill rabbits, so he could have caught them some roast rabbit. Second, since they have potatoes, he could have just served them potatoes, since no medieval peasant would ever think that having meat with every meal was a necessity. Third, for putting up with seven obnoxious kids in the first place – although I’ll grant him that they were probably a bit intimidating and him being a peasant, he felt obligated to make nice. And finally, if you’re going to kill a king’s deer, for Goel’s sake don’t leave it hung up where any idiot blundering past could see it.
And we get more stupid quote goodness:
Josh was dumbfounded. He had heard that the laws of the medieval world were strict and harsh – but he had never encountered anything like this (page 61).
No. Just…no. Recall, if you will, Book 1. Chapter Three, The Squire. Josh loves King Arthur legends and loves reading those books, blah blah blah. Now, admittedly, this fact is never mentioned or referenced in this book, but it’s still part of the canon. Any shmuck who’s read Robin Hood should know about penalties for killing the king’s deer, and if you weren’t intruding upon some peasant’s hospitality, this never would have happened.
Josh protests. The king tells him that’s the law. So some knights grab Will and drag him over to a table and whip out a sword. Josh looks at Sarah. Her face is pleading. So he walks over to the king and says that the fault was his, so the penalty should be his. It’s very dramatic. The king considers, and then tells the knights to release Will. And….and…
Yeah. He tells them to come on back to the castle with them because they have stuff to talk about.
Do you know what would be really, really, really great? If Josh had made the offer…and then the king, had, y’know, actually cut Josh’s hand off? See, if that happened, Josh (and Morris, coincidentally) would have my respect. Because that would be seriously awesome. Not only by having a main character crippled for the rest of the series, but Josh having a constant reminder of what doing the right thing sometimes entails. Instead, nothing happens and the entire situation is quickly forgotten.
Will comes over and blows smoke up Josh’s ass and tells him what a wonderful person he is. And they head off and Sarah leans over and grabs Josh and kissed him on the cheek.
“There, Josh! That’s what a lady of Camelot does when her knight has done a noble deed! […] Be careful that you’re not so noble next time, or you may get more of the same!” (page 63).
Great. Josh is going to be giving out severed hands left and right.
Chapter Seven – A Dangerous Hunt
Prince Loren talks about how dangerous hunting wild pigs are. They have big tusks. Reb, however, is unafraid. So the other (male) Sociopaths offer to let him do the hunting.
They head out into the hunt. Reb walks next to Princess Elaine and tells her about Atlantis. She gasps pleasingly and they flirt like mad. Reb begins boasting about his many accomplishments, while Elaine bats her eyelashes and touches his arm.
We then cut over to Josh and Dave talking about how Reb is getting ego problems. File this one under ‘obvious foreshadowing that doesn’t really making sense because bragging while talking to a hot girl is not indicative of ego problems’.
Finally a scout says they’ve seen a boar. The prince pulls out a boar-hunting spear and chooses this moment to explain to Reb for the first time the exact mechanics of it. That’s certainly showing some forethought.
The king and queen and everyone else wait in the background while Reb and three other chaps hold spears and start fanning out. I’m guessing they didn’t bring any dogs along on this particular hunt. Oh, and the king and queen are suddenly on foot now.
Suddenly the boar bursts from the foliage and rips a knight’s leg open. Everyone starts screaming and running wildly around because who would have expected something like that? Then the boar notices the king and queen trying to run away [?] and starts running for them [??]. And then the king falls down and the queen stops to help him up. There are no helpful guards around to protect them. No dogs or knights with swords or spears. Just a helpless old king lying sprawled on his face while his old wife tries to pick him up. Mere seconds remain before the wild boar, which they went out to hunt, slaughters them both. It’s very dramatic.
So Reb stabs the boar and then the boar twists loose but is still alive so he stabs it again and it falls on top of him. He lays there for a bit and finally some people drag the boar off, which is dead. He’s covered in the boar’s blood, and has a little nick on his arm, which Princess Elaine [!] begins to bandage with one of her underskirts [!!!].
King Dion walks up. He is infuriated at the incompetence of his retinue who, through their idiocy, allowed the life of his queen and daughter to come into danger. He screams at them for awhile – no, wait. Actually, he tells Reb that he’s saved the lives of the king, queen, and princess. And then he asks for Sir Gwin’s sword and knights him.
So Reb’s a knight now.
Yeah, that chapter wasn’t contrived at all.