The Dark Tide Chapter 2 Part 1

So our Warrow heroes are setting off for military duty… which means it’s time for descriptions that would make Christopher Paolini weep for joy: From the glitter, tiny evanescent shards of sparkling color winged to the eye, as if reflected from diminutive fragments of shattered jewels nestled among the fallen flakes.

Fantasy Snow is EPIC! It can’t just be WHITE.

 
in all the wide Dingle-wood nothing seemed to be astir except

… for the inbred cannibal Warrows just waiting for the innocent dimwits to fall into their trap.

 
for a jostling flock of noisy ravens squabbling over a meager breakfast up among the barren trees on Hawthorn Hill.

You know, considering that this whole place is locked in an unnatural winter, I would think more animals would be out and prowling for food, not just Wolves.

So Patrel FINALLY clues in that his new companions are down in the dumps, possibly because nobody has said a word for two whole hours and they were crying earlier. What a genius.

So what does he decide to do? Sing a song! HOLY FUCKBALLS, NO!

 
“Hey,” said Tarpy, his utterance breaking the muteness to fall upon startled ears, “give us a happy tune; we need it.”

Time to snap everybody out of the perfectly normal and natural emotional reaction. We can’t have people being upset about being drafted into a totally inept military and leaving behind their homes and loved ones.

 
Tarpy called to the others: “Hoy, you grumlings, clap your heels to those ponies and gather ’round.”

  1. Then Danner punched Tarpy for being such an annoying little twerp. He can’t die fast enough.
  2. This is what I ask for in high fantasy: singalongs!
  3. So… they’re applauding with their feet?
  4. And “grumlings” sound like the adorable tiny goblins who make life difficult in a children’s cartoon show from the 80s.

 

“What for?” asked Danner, mumpishly. “He’s just going to twang that stringed gourd of his, and I don’t feel at all like a song.”

Maybe Danner’s grumpy because his face is swelling up.

I’m starting to like Danner, even if he is kind of a douchebag. He’s not all HAPPY-SMILEY-CHEERY, and he is perfectly okay with staying that way. All hail the grumpypants!

“Perhaps that’s just exactly what we do need,” answered Tuck. “Even if it’s just a song, still we’ll cheer up a bit, I’ll wager. And right now I could do with a bit of cheering up, and so could you – so could we all.”

… and on the other hand we have Tuck, who appears to be hell-bent on being as twee and chipper as a Disney character. And since he’s the hero, we’re gonna be subjected to him for the whole trilogy.

YIPPEE.

So Danner reluctantly agrees, mainly to shut up Tuck before he starts talking again. I like to think he’s secretly plotting to ditch Tuck, Tarpy and Patrel at the Ripoff-of-the-Old-Forest, where they can be eaten alive by Old Man Will… I mean, Old Man Oak. So up next, Tuck, Danner, Hob, and Tarpy were all riding grouped around Patrel, which doesn’t sound very safe. I mean, they’re moving forward but apparently their ponies are all squashed together.

 
“All right, lads,” grinned the small Thornwalker, looking aflank, “it’s time you learned what the Thornwalkers are all about.”

CRAP, not an instructional song! It’s bad enough to have the characters start singing little songs to cheer each other up, but singing about their jobs?!

 
his fingers began dancing over the strings as he sang a lively, simple, Warrowish tune.

And “Warrowish,” he means completely oblivious to reality? I didn’t know a tune could do that!

Warning: the song after this might cause you to claw off your own ears… or eyes, depending on whether you imagine this with a tune or not. Seriously, I’m not asking for epic poetry here, but I really wish it were something other than a nursery rhyme:

We are Thornwalkers,
Thornwalkers are we;
We walk around the miles of bounds
To keep the Bosky free

… the rhyming scene blinds me with its sheer brilliance. As for the genius of matching “We are Thornwalkers” with the same phrase BACKWARDS…. I stagger back in shock.

 
Of Wolves and Vulgs and great wild dogs
And other enemy;

… wait a minute. The line before this one was about keeping the Bosky free… and the Thornwalkers are supposed to keep the Bosky free from… animals? Do canines enslave a lot of people in this fantasy world?

Also, the “other enemy” thing makes me want to hit myself on the head with a hammer.

 
We are Thornwalkers,
Thornwalkers are we.

We’ve noticed. Next major theme, please.

 
We are Thornwalkers,
Thornwalkers are we;

DID YOU NOT HEAR WHAT I SAID? That’s twice in a fucking row!

 
We’ve trod the Thorns from night to morn
Through Bosky history.

And boy are our feet sore!

 
Our ears can hear,

Thank you for telling us that.

 
and never fear,
For keenly do we see

Oh goody. Can you keenly see the gesture I’m making?

 
We are Thornwalkers,
Thornwalkers are we.

So I’ve been told. GET ON WITH IT!

 
We are Thornwalkers,
Thornwalkers are we;

I will pay you MONEY to stop singing that.

 
The Seven Dells, well I can tell,
All of them we do see,

I have brand new binoculars, and BOY are they worth the cash!

 
To north and east and south and west,
Wherever they may be;

… do the Seven Dells often go wandering off in random directions? I mean, usually regions of a country more or less stay put.

 
We are Thornwalkers,
Thornwalkers are we.

Can somebody please get Samwise Gamgee to come in and kick their asses?

 
“Come on, you sickly sparrows,” urged Patrel, pausing, “you can chirp louder than that.”

Shut the hell up, Patrel.

This time four other voices picked up the lilt of the rustic song,

… so it’s a song about the countryside? Wait, no it’s not. It’s more of a military ditty… as written by a two-year-old.

 
and even though they sang tum-tiddle-tum in the places where they could not guess the words, still their timber strengthened.

… their WHAT? So their singing is improving the trees?! And who sings tum-tiddle-tum except Winnie the Pooh?

 
We are Thornwalkers,
Thornwalkers are we;

I think Patrel joined the Thornwalkers because he was booed out of too many coffee shops.

 
We walk along the Spindlethorn
Wherever it may be,

Sometimes we have to track it down and catch it, though! It keeps sneaking away.

 
Through fens and fields and woods and hills
‘Long rivers bound for sea;

“Have I mentioned that we’re totally lost?”

 
We are Thornwalkers,
Thornwalkers are we.

I am feeling nauseous
Feeling nauseous am I!
This fucking song is way too long
And I think I might die.

 
We are Thornwalkers,
Thornwalkers are we;

We cannot sing any damned thing
no talent have we

 
And finer scads of sturdy lads
No one will ever see;

That sound you hear is the Marines readying their swords.

 
We guard and ward and work so hard
To keep the Bosky free

Not that anyone seems very interested in invading.

And (spoilers) when someone DOES invade… they go down like the Titanic. Offscreen. Full of fail, in other words.

 
We are Thornwalkers,
Thornwalkers are we

… and we should stick to our day jobs, because we suck at singing.

 
Yo ho! We are Thornwalkers,
Thornwalkers are we – Hey!

However, we’re considering a career change to piracy.

And just like that, the characters are no longer depressed. YAY for emotional repression! Danner is pissed because nothing interesting is going to happen at Spindle Ford…. which is facing the Evil Land of Evil Darkity Evilness, and a future war zone. Yeah. Someone drag these idiots to some Poli Sci, geography and history classes, because they do NOT know how the world works.

To make matters even worse, the Warrows start incorporating stuff from the songs into their conversations:

 
“Well that suits me just fine,” chimed up Tarpy. “I’d rather sit around a warm campfire, sharing a pipe or song or tale, than to be out in the cold looking for Wolves and Vulgs and great wild dogs.”

“And the other enemy,” added Tuck. “Don’t forget the other enemy the song spoke of? Wolves and Vulgs and great wild dogs and other enemy.” 

… Are these tiny baboons really dumb enough to think that the only enemies they’ll have are

  1. dogs
  2. wolves
  3. wargs… I mean, Vulgs
  4. 2% other enemy, probably involving mean foxes, angry cats and hamsters with bad attitudes?

I mean, are they actually taking this crap seriously?! Do they think a RHYMING SCHEME is representative of reality? I never knew that John Lennon was a walrus! I never knew that Jim Morrison wanted to literally kill his father! I never knew that Brian Wilson actually had owls puking in his bed!

So Tuck asks what “other enemy” means – wait, doesn’t that mean that there is only ONE “other enemy”? As in, he uses the singular “enemy” instead of “enemies.” He also wants to immortalize this little piece o’ shit in his diary because his cousin Willy, who also thinks Miley Cyrus is a brilliant singer, will like it. Patrel reveals that he ONLY JUST made it up off the seat of his pants… which is just what I’d expect it to come from.

But the other Warrows are apparently very easily impressed, because they think it is just awesome.

 
“My Aunt Oot used to make up songs now and again,” interrupted Hob,

“Then she went back to the Planet Zorgon along with Uncle Xoob.”

So Patrel starts infodumping us about how the Thornwalkers protect the Seven Dells of the Bosky. Unfortunately, those Seven Dells are in dumb places: “Seven Dells: North, South, East, West, Center, Up, and Down.” 

I have shocking news for you, Tarpy: there is no “up” or “down” on a geographical region – there are only north, south, east, west, and various gradations between these. No up! No down! So unless the Warrows have entire STATES up in the clouds AND deep underground, this makes NO SENSE.

So he rambles about the boundaries and natural features of the Boskydell, and this is so blatantly infodumpy that even the characters call the author out on it: “What is this,” grumbled Danner, “a geography lesson?”

Patrel, apparently unable to recognize criticism and sarcasm, just says, “Well, perhaps a touch of both geography and history.” Yo Patrel, that question was rhetorical. What he means is: SHUT UP.

 
“Come on, Danner, let Patrel speak,” said Tarpy, his Warrowish nature astir to listen to things he already knew. “Besides, I’ve always wanted to learn where harpers get their tunes.”

  1. So Warrows are tailor-made for transparent infodumps?
  2. “Hey Patrel, what’s this fantasy world called?” “Mithgar.” “What are we again?” “We’re Warrows.” “How are we different from Hobbits again?” “Read the omnibus edition. It’s in the back.”
  3. He’s not TALKING about where he gets his tunes from! He’s talking about geography!
  4. Is anyone else hoping that Tarpy gets eaten by a Vulg?

 
“Argh!” growled Danner,

I know exactly how you feel.

“But, Tarpy, I don’t know where harpers get their tunes,” protested Patrel. “I only know where mine come from. It’s very simple. The mission of the Thornwalkers is to patrol the Dells and the Spindlethorn Barrier, to guard against unsavory Beyonders coming into the Bosky for ill purposes, and to repel Wolves, or great wild dogs.”

Holy non-sequiturs, Batman! That comment about songs totally led into their mission statement!

And I still don’t know why the hell wolves OR wild dogs would attack them. For that matter, what about wild dogs who aren’t great, just moderately good? How about mediocre wild dogs? And how does a person rate wild dogs’ greatness?

 
“Yar! And the other enemy,” snorted Danner, sarcastically. “I’ll give you another enemy!” He leaned over toward Hob and made a face. “Boo!”

I think that squealing sound you hear is the last bit of dignity this book had shriveling and dying a slow painful death.

 
“Just who do you think you’re ordering about?” bristled Danner. “I?”

No, I’m pretty sure there’s nobody named “I” in this little group. There is some guy called Z, and a couple of guys named J.

So Danner is pissed off and he’s pissing everyone else off too. Apparently Danner doesn’t think that there’s any “other enemy” – and since usually people with enemies have more than one, I don’t either.

 
“How about Vulgs?” shot back Hob.

We’ve already covered those, dumbass.

 
“And Rucks, Hloks, and Ogrus,” chimed in Tarpy.
“Ghuls,” added Tuck.

And vampires and werewolves and witches and lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

 
“You left out Cold-drakes! And Modru! And bloody Gyphon himself!” he snapped. “And it seems you’ve also forgotten High Adon’s Ban! And that’s why there isn’t any other enemy: the Ban!”

Uh oh. sniffs I smell a clumsy infodump coming up.

 
“Danner’s got a good point there. Now hush and let him speak.”

Yup, I was right.

Hey, dumbasses, he wasn’t asking to give a speech on the subject. He just mentioned it. This could get annoying pretty fast.

“I think the burgers need some ketchup.”
“Hey, you have a good point there. Now everybody let him speak!”
“Well, ketchup is made out of tomatoes, corn syrup spices and other vegetables. It’s mainly put on fast food, and its origins lie in 17th-century China…”

 
“Well, you all know what the old tales say.”

Yeah, so how come you’re telling them anyway?

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