Chapter Ten – Jalor Has a Plan
The Sociopaths learn how to fly. Token has a hard time with it, because he’s afraid of heights. We’re told this, rather than shown this, and this difficulty never affects him in any way or has any impact upon the storyline or the characters. So really, it’s just a way to fill up half a page.
Lareen talks to Abbey and Sarah about how it’s a chance for girls to catch up with men. Because she wants to show everyone that girls can fly just as well. Which is odd, because we have seen absolutely no sexual inequality in those who are allowed to fly. At all. And that wasn’t Lareen’s reason for teaching the Sociopaths. And allowing two flabby outsiders the opportunity to learn to fly isn’t going to further this ideal. And nothing will come of this and it will not have any impact on the storyline or the characters. So really, it’s just a way to fill up another half a page. Rather like most of this series, actually.
Lareen tells the Sociopaths that they’re going to practice flying in formation. She asks them if they’ve ever seen ducks flying in formation. Reb says he has. I wonder how Lareen has seen ducks, since she lives squarely in the middle of a gigantic desert where there shouldn’t be any ducks.
They go flying. Josh thinks about how Swiftwind probably has the hots for Lareen. He and Sarah talk about it and they have a Moment. He tells Sarah she’s changed.
“Different from the little girl who first came to live with us back on Oldworld. You’re almost a woman now” (page 87).
Sarah was twelve when she came to live with them. She’s fourteen now. Maybe this is Morris’ way of telling of us she’s grown boobs. Either way, saying that to a fourteen-year-old is creepy. Even if you are only fifteen.
Darkwind and Jalor sit and watch the Sociopaths. Jalor explains that he’s been ordered to kill the Sociopaths. Darkwind is ecstatic and says he’ll do it himself. Y’know, the old-fashioned way: walk up to them and slit their throats, one by one. But Jalor’s plan is more complicated, and involves going to the Shadow Wings. And…something. It’s not really clear, but it’s probably something that could easily fail. And so they take off, both thinking about how they distrust the other guy and will screw him over when the time is right.
Chapter Eleven – A New Kind of Hunt
Swiftwind finds Lareen and Jake talking. Jake has been entertaining Lareen with stories of television. Swiftwind is slightly jealous of this. They argue, and then Swiftwind dangles Jake over the cliff and threatens to drop him. Lareen is less than happy. They struggle and finally Swiftwind tosses Jake back on the ledge and flies off to sulk.
Jalor finds him. He talks to him about something that would impress girls. Apparently the Raiders used to have a shiny gold crown and the Shadow Wings pinched it. And Jalor JUST HAPPENS to know where it’s being kept. And no, this story doesn’t raise any red flags with Swiftwind. I wonder if we will ever find a truly intelligent person in this entire series.
Next, Jalor suggests they ask the Sociopaths to go with them. He mentions that the servants of Goel generally have a way of succeeding at things. Swiftwind agrees to ask them.
Swiftwind talks to Josh. Josh says he’ll talk to the rest of the Sociopaths. He calls them all together – after all, it’s not like they’re slaves and have actual duties. Or maybe they’re allowed to leave whenever they feel like it now. So Josh explains and everyone starts to argue about it. Josh thinks it’s a good idea because it’ll win the confidence of the people or something like that. Jake, however, thinks it’s a bad idea, but he’s outvoted.
They fly to the Shadow Wings camp that night. Jalor stays back as a sentinel, which sounds ominous. They land, sneak up to the spot, knock the guard out and tie him up, and head inside. Down below they find a room that’s full of treasure. Swiftwind grabs the crown, and they start to leave, and suddenly a couple of guards materialize from the woodwork. Swiftwind kicks their asses and they start to run, fighting their way out. Except Swiftwind and Sarah get captured. The rest of them take off, deciding to go get help. And yes, it’s just as awkwardly written and unconvincing as it sounds.
They meet Jalor who says they’ll have to tell the chief and get him to send a raiding party. And they head home. Josh angsts.
Chapter Twelve – Another Prison
They find the chief and explain what happened. White Storm is pissed. Sure Flight asks Jalor what part he played. Jalor says they’re lying. He says that the Sociopaths talked Swiftwind into going and they’re in league with the Shadow Wings. And then he takes out a piece of paper which supposedly proves that they’ve been dealing with the Shadow Wings.
Now – if I were the chief – this would raise several questions. First, since Jalor knew all this, why didn’t he come and tell the chief the moment he learned Swiftwind wanted to go? Second, if the Sociopaths are really in league with the Shadow Wings, why the hell did they come back to slavery? Or at the very least, to face the wrath of the chief? Leaving behind Sarah? However, the chief is a dumbass, and this is just another terribly contrived scene in a terrible contrived book in a terribly contrived series. He has the guards drag them off to prison. They talk about things and finally decide to execute the Sociopaths in the morning. Instead of…right then.
Sure Flight comes and tells them. They’re depressed. They think about how they’re facing death again. The Sociopaths tend to be sentenced to death at least once a book and it never happens, so I’m not exactly certain why they’re so depressed. It’s at moments like this when Goel shows up to bail them out…and he doesn’t disappoint.
Everyone’s asleep except for Jake. He angsts. Then Goel appears. They talk. Jake asks where he’s been. Goel explains that previously, he tested them by giving them direct orders. This time, he was testing them by not giving them anything. Which is…actually kind’ve sneaky and makes me like Goel a bit more. Finally he pats Jake on the head and tells him to have hope, and vanishes into the ether.
Chapter Thirteen – Sarah Shows A Better Way
Just what this book needs. A chapter about morals.
Sarah’s miserable. They were beaten the night before. She wasn’t raped, because this is a Christian youth book. And they’re in a cell and they have been given food, and water, and a dirty blanket each to sleep on, so as cells go, it’s quite nice.
She washes Swiftwind’s back, and talks about how crying makes it easier to deal with things. Swiftwind mentions that he’s probably going to be killed and she’ll become a slave. Mmm. He also says that the Shadow Wings have an excellent defensive position and will kick the Raider’s collective asses.
Sarah talks about Goel and quotes Winston Churchill. She tells Swiftwind about hatred being a poison and how she doesn’t hate her enemies. It’s not interesting at all. Finally the chief comes in and tells them about how screwed they are and how hopeless the coming attack will be. He grabs Sarah and says that she’s cute and after this is over, he’ll take her to be his. Yep. When it’s over. Because nothing bad can actually happen to them.