The Dark Tide Chapter 4 Part 3

But the next evening Laurelin is depressed because apparently the wagons have arrived, and she’s whining because she might not see her boyfriend before she leaves. Yeah, apparently she expects him to come back to the castle to say goodbye to her, instead of continuing to fight. DUMBASS. It also turns out that she’s leaving on her birthday, which is the first day of Generic Winter Festival Which Is Totally Like Christmas Except Not. And Tuck also mentions that Merrilee’s birthday is on the LAST day of Generic Winter Festival.

What significance does it have? NONE.

But Laurelin doesn’t really care about that, so she keeps whining about how she’s going to be shipped out of there. Please tell me the Forces of Generic Evil kill her.

 
“Ai-oi! But itis your birthday,” said Tuck, attempting to brighten her spirit. “At least we have that to celebrate, though I have no gift for you, nought but a smile, that is.”

“But you might want to pass on that, since my smile tends to frighten small children.”

“Your presence alone is gift enough, Sir Tuck. Yes, your presence gladdens me.”

“Because even though we’ve hung out together for about ten minutes altogether, we’re best buds now. I wonder if it’s because you’re the only person who listens to me yapping about myself and my boyfriend. Most people run away and hide from me!”

So it turns out that even though the entire world is about to be invaded and the place is being evacuated, the King is planning a massive birthday feast for Laurelin the next day. Yes, apparently he has nothing better to do than plan a spoiled teen girl’s birthday party. And because nobody ELSE in the military has anything better to do right before an invasion, all the captains are being invited.

You know, this isn’t getting across the “Big Bad is about to conquer the world” vibe to me. It seemss like none of the good guys are taking it very seriously.

 
“But, my Lady,” protested Tuck, “I am no Captain. I and Danner are but Lieutenants. It is Captain Patrel you would invite.”

“Be careful. When he’s had a few drinks, he takes off his clothes and tries to make out with Elves.”

 
“Nonsense!” Laurelin tossed her head. “I’ll invite whom I please. After all, it is my birthday we celebrate.”

Sorry, when did this character morph into a knockoff of Princess Eilonwy?

So Tuck starts blathering about how they don’t have any nice clothes with them, which causes Laurelin to stamp her foot. I know she’s a teenage girl, but she seems pretty bipolar even for a teenager – we went from ye olde history lessons and wangst to her stamping her foot and tossing her head.

 
“But me no buts, Sirrah!” she exclaimed, her sad mood now replaced by one of amused determination.

…. what the fuck does that even mean?

googles it

Apparently that phrase (minus the “Sirrah” part) was actually coined in 1709 in a play.

 
A smile played at the corner of her mouth, her eyes twinkled, and her mode of speaking now dropped into that of formal court parlance:

… WHY? Why is she suddenly going from being a foot-stamping adolescent to talking in Ye Olde Speeke? Does this add anything to the scene? Does it make her argument more convincing? NO.

 
“I shall see to the petty details of thy raiment.”

“… because I just happen to have outfits the right size. Yes, it IS convenient.”

 
“Tomorrow eve, gather thy two friends unto thee at the change of watch. I will meet thee here at the wall, as is my wont, and then we will get thee hence to be fitted, for I have secret knowledge of the whereabouts of clothes just thy size but fit for a Prince.”

“Beware, though. They doth fit thee, but verily they hath the squeaky noses and the rainbow wigs.”

 
“Then thou shall be dressed for my party, be it one of farewell or of a birthday anniversary or simply a celebration of the coming Yule.”

So… grim reaper outfits, then?

For some reason Laurelin saying, “I’ll totally find you nice clothes” is just too brilliant an argument for Tuck, and he agrees. Then she natters about her boyfriend for awhile, and Tuck sits there being bored. Or maybe I’m the one who’s bored.

So that evening, one of Laurelin’s Ladies-in-waiting came first to Tuck, then to Danner, and lastly to Patrel and took their measurements with a tailor’s tape. Yet when queried by the curious Warrows as to what was to be done with the figures, the Lady merely smiled and answered not their questions.

… uh, why? You can only do a few things with someone’s inseam measurements. And the princess ALREADY said she was getting clothes for them! Did Tuck just suffer amnesia, or are the Warrows bad at putting 2 + 2 together?

And since apparently EVERYONE has been told, all the other Wobbits decide to tease them. With strange accents.

 
“Ar, keeps yer thumbs out o’ the soups if you please, me buccoes,” said Dilby.

“Shiver me timbers! It’s the lash for ye if ye touch me booty!”

 
“Mind your p’s and q’s, and stay off the Ladies’ toes when you dance,” laughed Delber.

Watching these idiots try ANY kind of coordinated movement is a nightmare waiting to happen.

 
“Watch out for lettin’ your little fingers droops as you takes your tea,” cautioned Argo.

“And don’t forgets to drops a bows in front of the Kings.”
“Why are you adding S to everything?”
“Adding whats?”

 
“Mind you now, eats with your knifes and forks, and don’t go tearing into it with just yer little teeths like a common hanimal,” added Sandy.

  1. You should tear into it like an UNCOMMON Hanimal.
  2. What the hell accent is that?
  3. And what’s a Hanimal?
  4. googles it It’s a Polish band.

So that evening Laurelin turns up on the wall to look for her boyfriend. No, he doesn’t come. Honestly, I doubt he even remembers that this is her fucking birthday, and he definitely doesn’t know when she’s being evacuated.

Sadly, Laurelin turned away from her watch, for this was her last night.

I wish it were. If it were, then I wouldn’t have to read any more about this bimbo.

 
Tomorrow would see her depart south, and who, then, would look for her beloved?

Nobody, because everybody will have evacuated. Watching doesn’t actually help anyone, bitch.

So she bursts into tears, and Tuck says, “Hey bitch, that is MY thing.” No, actually the Wobbits just… stand there and watch for a minute.

At last Tuck took her hands in his own and said, “Fear not, my Lady, for as long as I can I will come hence to be your eyes, to watch in your stead. And when Lord Galen comes at last, I will tell him of your lasting love.”

“Oh Tuck, how sweet of you!”
“And then I will hug him and kiss him and grope him, and we’ll make out for hours.”
“… too much info, Tuck.”

 
And he held her and soothed her while a tear ran down Patrel’s cheek, and Danner, in dull rage, looked out over the empty stillness toward Modru’s black wall.

… okay, I could maybe understand why Tuck would be concerned, since he and Laurelin kinda sorta know each other. But Danner and Patrel have NEVER SPOKEN A WORD TO HER. Why is Patrel crying? Why is Danner ang… uh, why is he UNUSUALLY angry on her behalf?

 
“I am shamed by my outburst, for often I have been told that a Princess should not be seen to weep, yet I could not help myself.”

  1. So… HOW COME YOU DID?
  2. And even though the world is faced with TOTAL DESTRUCTION, she only cries because she won’t get to see her boyfriend before she leaves.
  3. I can imagine Bella Swan doing that, but not someone who is allegedly aware that people other than herself matter.

 
Patrel stepped forth and gave her his own. “A gift my Lady, for it is your birthday eve.”
“I have acted more as if it were a funeral, keening my lamentation,” said Laurelin, wiping her tears away, gently blowing her nose.

HELLO? Imminent destruction of the world? Obliteration of all that is good and noble in this world by the forces of evil? Isn’t THAT a good reason to freak out and cry?

“If not dirges, then, let us instead celebrate, for I know where they’re holding a party tonight, though we have nought but rags to wear.”

…. yeah, rags? That’s called ARMOR. It’s less than a week old.

So Laurelin has a total bipolar moment, and goes from sobbing her eyes out to… laughing and dancing around with Patrel. Yes, because when I’m happy, I grab people I don’t even know and twirl them around. Then she drags the Warrows into the castle to… the old living quarters of the royal family, to a long-abandoned room. Yeah, I call bullshit. Even the biggest castles put all their rooms to use, because you needed a massive staff, lots of storage space, and PLACES FOR PEOPLE TO SLEEP.

 
“I shall return in a trice,” said Laurelin, mischievously.

“My trice is covered with floral print, chains and drawstrings. It looks SO flattering on me.”

 
They heard the sound of a distant gong.

… yes, because in Anglo-Norse medieval societies, gongs were VERY common.

 
In an adjoining room three hot baths had been prepared in great copper tubs, and the Warrows wallowed and sloshed in the soapy suds.

Fortunately, they’re prevented from singing a ripoff of Tolkien’s “Bath Song” by a servant who makes them get the hell out of the tubs and get dressed. They’re given a bunch of silk clothes, and then are presented with… something else.

As fine as these clothes were, the three young buccen had a greater surprise in store, and they were astounded.

A doorway into a better book?

No, they’re given mail “corselets,” which is not the best word to use even if it’s correct. Tuck’s is a knockoff of Bilbo’s mithril shirt, Danner’s is black, and Patrel’s is gold (which would really suck as armor). Then they’re given matching helmets. And at the last they were given cloaks, Elven-made, the same elusive grey-green color as was worn by Lord Gildor. Wow, that sounds NOTHING like…. oh never mind, I already ranted about that.

 
“Why,” said Danner, “we look like three warrior princelings!”

Really short ones. Honestly, I don’t even know why the armor fits them, unless they have the proportions of five-year-olds.

 
“Just so,” came a tinkling laugh.

… from the bathroom.

No, it’s Laurelin, who has dressed herself in her finest animated princess clothing, which seems pretty damn simple for a PRINCESS.


“Has someone been raiding my wardrobe AGAIN?”

Laurelin had returned, now dressed in a simple yet elegant gown of light blue that fell straight to the floor from a white bodice.

This is basically how McKiernan describes ALL formal women’s clothing.

 
Blue slippered feet peeked under the hem.

The Wobbits were slightly unnerved by the eyes on her toes.

 
Her hair was garlanded with intertwining ribbons, matching those crisscrossing the bodice.

Again with the descriptions of women’s clothing. You would think that in THOUSANDS of years, there might be a slight change in fashion.

“You do look like Princelings,” she said, “but that is befitting mine escorts, warriors three.”

Does ANYONE in this book talk like a normal person? ANYONE? I will take any little crumbs of normalcy right now. As God is my witness, this is the TWEE-EST FANTASY WRITING EVER. Tell me, was this bitch dressed by songbirds and little anthropomorphic mice?

 
“But how? where?” stammered Tuck, holding out his arms and pirouetting, indicating the raiments and armor upon Danner and Patrel and himself. “Tell me the answer to this mystery before I burst!”

But he hasn’t even become Spinal Tap’s drummer yet!

 
“Oh, la !” laughed Laurelin, “we can’t have you bursting on my birthday eve.”

DID I MENTION IT’S ALL VERY, VERY TWEE AND PRECIOUS?!

So she tells the Wobbits how her absent boyfriend once showed her his and his brother’s old bedrooms… and no, I don’t know why they aren’t being used by them NOW, or why nobody else is using them. And apparently they store all the old clothing and children’s armor there. This must be the biggest castle in the universe.

 
“Here I knew were closets of clothing worn by the seed of Aurion.”

Was it REALLY necessary to mention his seed?

“And I thought surely some would fit you three, and I was not wrong.”

“Of course, the arms and legs are way too short and it’s baggy around the waist, but otherwise it fits!”

Seriously, these guys are adults, in a species that apparently has the same proportions as humans. Things meant for CHILDREN would be proportioned for them… which means they probably wouldn’t fit them.

 
“But happiest of all, here, too, was the armor of the warrior Princelings of the Royal House of Aurion.”

So… the armor is happy? I guess that’s good…

 
“The silver you wear, Sir Tuck, is from Aurion’s own childhood, handed down to him from his forefathers. Silveron it is, and precious, said to be Drimmen-deeve work of old. And, too, Sir Tuck, I chose the silver armor for you because you wear your dammia’s silver locket.”

  1. “Like, you totally HAVE to match your armor to your jewelry! Otherwise it would just be a fashion CRIME.”
  2. I wonder if she bothered to ASK the king if she could lend out other people’s clothes.
  3. Wow, an ancient armored coat from an underground dwarf city, made out of a special fictional metal. Whee. That doesn’t sound like anything familiar.

“The black, Sir Danner, comes from Prince Igon’s childhood, made just for him by the Dwarves of Mineholt North, who dwell under the Rimmen Mountains in my Land, Riamon. It is told that the jet comes from a mountain of fire in the great ocean to the west.”

Jet comes from wood under immense pressure, not a volcano. OBSIDIAN comes from a volcano.

Also, can anyone OTHER than dwarves make anything in this series? I get that Tolkien made them master smiths of EVERYTHING, but can’t the Elves or Humans make anything nice?

 
“Your golden armor, Captain Patrel, is Dwarf-made, too, and came from the Red Caves in Valon. It was my beloved, Prince Galen, who wore it as a youth, and I hold it to be special because of that.”

…. and yet she gave it to the guy she barely knows.

Also, those dwarves must have hated that kid’s ass, because gold is one of the worst things you can make armor out of.

 
The Princess smiled, her white teeth showing, and the young buccen beamed in response.

All this cheeriness is getting a little creepy.

 
Again they heard the tolling of a distant gong.

Bells toll. Gongs ring. And gongs don’t belong in a generic European castle. Bells do.

So they all saunter off to the party, and McKiernan tells us what color their clothes are: Captain Patrel, in golden armor, with the hand of the beautiful Lady Laurelin, gowned in blue; black-armored Danner to Patrel’s right; and silver-armored Tuck to Laurelin’s left. Dammit, you told us what color they were wearing ONE PAGE AGO. We don’t need to be told again! We are slightly smarter than the characters!

 
And when they came through the main doors and into the long Feast Hall, all the guests rose and murmured in wonderment, some at the great beauty of the Princess, others at the Waerling warriors by her side.

  1. They murmured in wonderment at the Princess’ overwhelming Sue-iness, and how anyone who didn’t like her just evaporated into thin air.
  2. Aren’t you supposed to all rise when the KING gets up, or when he comes in?
  3. “Aren’t those the princes’ old clothes? They don’t fit very well!”

So they saunter over to the king, and we’re told what colors everybody is wearing, and there’s a lot of bowing.

 
Aurion acknowledged their courtesy by inclining his head, and then he rose and walked down to the Princess and took her hands in his and smiled.

“I’ve decided that since my son is away, I’m going to marry you instead.”

I’m only half kidding. Every single guy who meets Laurelin who isn’t Cartoonishly Evil acts like he’s madly crushing on her. Yes, even the Wobbits. Everybody is amazed by how beautiful she is, how sweet she is, how loving she is, etc.

… are you starting to see why I hate this character? She is not only two-dimensionally perfect, but she’s really boring. And still, she’s done NOTHING to actually make us like her. The entire reason we’re supposed to like her is because… she’s pretty, and royal.

 
“This is the eve of the twelve days of Yule, a time of celebration, for it marks the ending of an old year and the beginning of the new.”

Please, make up your mind whether this is a Christmas-esque holiday (12 days) or a solstice festival. You can’t have it both ways! Especially since there are far fewer than twelve days between the solstice and Christmas. It’s like, three days. And even the time between the solstice and New Year’s is ten days at most, so that doesn’t fit either.

 
“Tomorrow, First Yule brings with it the shortest day and longest night as the old year lays dying, and some may take that as a bleak omen in these dark times.”

I don’t think anybody needs omens to tell that they’re royally screwed. Just looking out the window will do the job.

“Yet I say unto ye all, First Yule is also a time of new beginnings. Hearken unto me, though Twelfth Yule is reckoned as the first day of a new year, I ween that First Yule marks its true beginning;”

  1. “Specifically, the beginning of post-holiday sales and discounts.”
  2. I think the other people must be eating while the King makes his speech, because he sure seems to be trying hard to make them pay attention. “I SAY UNTO YOU… hey, pay attention! HEARKEN UNTO ME, DAMMIT!”
  3. Stop using the word “hearken.”
  4. This guy sucks at inspirational speeches. “Even though we’re about to be invaded and killed, this is a time for new beginnings, because the days are gonna start getting longer!”
  5. Also, it’s been winter for several months now. Why do they think that suddenly the days will get longer?
  6. And even if they do, the winter solstice is supposed to be good because it means that the cold, miserable weather will soon turn into merely chilly damp weather. There is NO sign of this winter ending anytime soon because it’s artificial…. so really, there’s no sign of anything good happening.”

 
“But First Yule also has brought us great grace and beauty – the Princess Laurelin. If there be omen seekers amongst ye, look upon this Lady in blue, and ye can do nought but see good fortune in your rede.”

Big spoiler: the bad guys invade, successfully conquer the castle, and most of the people (including evacuees) die. Yeah. I doubt that was meant to be ironic, and a sign of how completely useless Laurelin is even as an inspirational figure.

 
The King turned to his guests and proclaimed, “Let the celebration begin.” And there rose up a great cheering in the Hall that made the very rafters ring.

Hello? Have these people forgotten this slightly important FORCES OF EVIL ABOUT TO INVADE THE PLACE AND KILL EVERYONE thing that’s going on?! STOP HAVING FUN!

No, they don’t listen to me. Fictional characters never listen to me.

And apparently the king has forced ALL the entertainers in the area to not evacuate with their families, just so they can provide bad comedy for the princess’ birthday party.

 
jugglers and wrestlers, dancers and buffoons, prestidigitators and a Man who spewed fire from his mouth, and others, all strutting in file through the doors and around the floor to be seen before they were to perform.

Most of them broke down crying and took off all their clothes.

Next, servants bearing platters laden with food paraded into the Hall. There were roast pig and lamb, beef and fowl,

HELLO? Impending war? Death to everyone? An army that needs feeding?

 
and vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, beans, red cabbage, and peas,

Where are these veggies coming from?! They are stuck in a NEVERENDING WINTER, so when the hell did the veggies come from?

Actually, shouldn’t most if not all of the population be dead by now? I mean, they’ve had winter for a VERY long time, which probably killed the immature crops they hadn’t harvested. Any fresh food like vegetables should have withered away, preserved food should have been mostly eaten by now, and most of the animals should be bone-thin and malnourished if they haven’t been eaten yet.

 
and great pitchers of frothed ale and dark mead, and apples and pears, and even the strange new fruit from Thyra, orange and tangy and full of juice.

So, on the brink of war with a starving population and the Forces of Evil on their doorstep… the royals imported oranges for the princess’ birthday. I wouldn’t be shocked if this royal family found themselves in guillotines in a few years.

And no, the Wobbits aren’t horrified by the fact that the nobility is gorging itself on food that NOBODY of any social class can afford to waste. You know, I don’t really care how people waste their money normally, as long as it’s not at someone else’s expense. But not during a crisis. It pisses me off when megawealthy people flaunt it during times of crisis (such as luxe presidential parties during a time of 10% unemployment, but that’s a rant for another day).

 
The Princess was seated, and King Aurion raised a horn of honey-sweet mead; so did they all. “Yule and Lady Laurelin!” he cried, and a great shout went up: Yule and Lady Laurelin!

In other news: Lady Laurelin is being credited with curing cancer, saving millions of puppies and creating world peace. Because she’s a princess. And she’s blonde.

So while everyone collectively humps Laurelin’s leg, we’re given some scintillating cultural insights… like everybody celebrates the exact same solstice festival and always has done!

 
“We celebrate this same festival in my Land of Valon,” said Marshal Vidron to Tuck as they watched a juggler. “Only there we call it Jol rather than Yule.”

“We celebrate it by putting boots on our heads, flashing tourists and eating cheap jewelry. We are a strange people.”

 
“But that is because the old language, Valur, still names many things in the Valanreach, though the Common Tongue, Pellarion, makes up our everyday speech. Ah Valur, a language rich in meaning, once spoken by many, but now known only to my countrymen. Yet Valur will live forever, for it is our War-speech, the battle-tongue of the Harlingar, the Vanadurin, Warriors of the Reach!”

  1. He then threw up on himself, slid under the table, and slept through the rest of the party.
  2. I think Vidron has had a little too much mead. When you start babbling about how awesome your language is, you’re soused.
  3. And yes, the Vanadurim ARE transparent knockoffs of the Rohirrim, ie horse-crazy warriors. That is basically all they are.

“Yule has had many names in many tongues,” said Lord Gildor, his Elven eyes aglitter, “yet it always has been the same twelve days of winter festival throughout the years. And though days, months, and years mean little to my Folk, memories are important to us. And many a happy memory centers about Yule, or Jol, Yol, Ule, or whatever it may be called. Yes, I can remember a time such as this when it was still called Geol, and we celebrated even though Modru threatened the Land in that Era, too.”

  1. Bullshit, I cry! Why does every single culture in this world have the exact same celebration of a solstice? Until the last century, there were cultural differences between different TOWNS, let alone different cultures in different COUNTRIES.
  2. Also, it’s established in later books that Elves celebrate every equinox and solstice by doing a sort of… line dance. No mention of it on THIS particular solstice.
  3. “Yule” is derived from a Germanic word. What about cultures that AREN’T Germanic?! EVERYBODY uses a Germanic word?!
  4. For instance, other names for Christmas include Kersfees, Navidad, Beannachtaí, Weihnachte, Noel and Natal. Not everybody is like the Japanese and just says the name with an accent and an extra vowel!
  5. Also, it doesn’t make sense to me that they have this totally arbitrary twelve-day celebration, which NEVER changed and is exactly the same for everybody!
  6. I get that McKiernan is trying to write a sort of non-Christian Christmas here, but I have shocking news: the twelve days of Xmas aren’t just a random number. It wasn’t like some ancient pope went, “I like the number twelve! I think instead of ONE day of Xmas, we’ll have twelve!” There’s an actual reason (it’s the number of days between Christmas Day and Epiphany), so it makes sense that it wouldn’t change over 1600+ years.
  7. McKiernan’s holiday apparently has no such symbolism so… what the hell?

“You can remember ?” exclaimed Danner, hushed awe in his voice. “But that was – that was back before the Ban, four thousand years-”

  1. HAVE YOU NOTICED ELVES ARE IMMORTAL?! They are totally not like Tolkien’s!
  2. Uh, all he said was that it was during a time when they were battling Modru. He didn’t specify.
  3. So either Danner is making a huge assumption…
  4. … or Modru is the laziest Dark Lord of all time, and has only attacked the Good Guys TWICE in the last FOUR THOUSAND YEARS.
  5. Yes, I know he’s meant to be Sauron Lite, and Sauron was MIA for some three thousand years. But here’s the thing: he had an actual excuse for being MIA for millennia, and he was doing his damndest to make a comeback during that time.
  6. But Modru… just can’t go out in the daylight. His powers haven’t been crippled and he hasn’t lost his form or anything, but he can’t be in the sunlight. So it took him FOUR THOUSAND YEARS to figure out a way of dealing with this? He could have dug a tunnel into the High King’s basement in that time!

 
“Yes,” smiled Gildor, his voice soft, “I can remember.”

“And I’m still hung over from it.”

So while the wrestling is going on (wrestling at a girl’s birthday party?!), we get another LOTR-knockoff: “Ah, if I am not mistaken,” said Aurion to the Princess, “that young Man, the victor, is from Dael in your Land…” Let me guess, it’s right next to a mountain city and a giant lake.

But there’s some family strife brewing. Laurelin is still whining about how most of her guests are going to be evacuating from the place… even though we were told that it was mostly women, kids and the elderly who were leaving. Does that mean the party is full of geezers, girls and little kids? And Igon has joined the Whine-Stomping party, and is griping about how he’s being sent out with the evacuation escort instead of getting to go play badass with his brother.

 
“And I ride with the escort,” said young Igon, glumly, “when I think it would be better that I return to the Dimmendark to stand beside Galen against the foe.”

Seriously, quit whining, kid. It’s especially stupid because apparently he has NEVER brought up this topic to his dad before, and only mentions it DURING SOMEONE ELSE’S PARTY literally hours before departure. Show some class!

 
“My son,” said Aurion, “I need you in Pellar. You but ride with the escort to Stonehill, beyond the range of Modru’s Vulgs. Then you will leave the train behind, and with six fast companions you will go apace to Caer Pendwyr to rally the Kingdom to our aid.”

“And I am saying this so the readers will know what the hell is going on, even though you should already know.”

 
“Sire, I will obey thy command,” replied Igon, his speech now courtly, “though I think thee but try to place one of thy heirs temporarily beyond harm’s way.”

… and what’s wrong with that? He’s got two kids, one of whom is off fighting on the front lines. Why WOULDN’T he want to keep one of his heirs safe, especially a kid who’s only fifteen years old?

Especially since in medieval societies, your heirs were not only your family but your family’s power, presence and lineage. And things could get pretty damn nasty if there wasn’t an obvious heir, meaning that there would be fighting for whoever came next. So if you’re going to trot out a stereotypical high fantasy monarchy, at least try to use some realistic logic about how things would work.

 
King Aurion’s face flushed, and he glanced at Vidron as if to a conspirator.

YOU’RE THE KING. Act like it, not like a naughty little boy!

 
“I think others, Captain Jarriel for one, can do this deed thou hast given me as well as I if not better,”

Uh, I think he has this backwards. Jarriel and just about anyone else in the entire castle can go out and stick pointy objects in Generic Orc Ripoffs, but I’m pretty sure none of them can INHERIT A THRONE.

The king hasn’t done a very good job educating this little twerp on responsibility vs. “I wanna go out and fight I WANNA WANNA WANNA!”, huh?

 
“whereas I have fought and slain foe in the bitter Winternight and that is what I am suited to do. Aye, ’twas perchance by accident that we stumbled across the enemy, still that does not alter the fact that Galen and I slew five between us.”

“Well, he killed four, and that one guy sort of tripped and fell on my sword… but I still kicked ass!”

 
“It is this task I would return to: to stand with Galen against the foe.”

And now, time for a multiple choice question! Won’t that be fun?!

And here it is: Igon’s first major battle in this trilogy against the Generic Forces of Evil leads to…

  • A) victory
  • B) getting his ass handed to him.
  • C) spending the whole series lying around being useless.
  • D) Both B and C.

And the answer is… D! Haha, yes, this character having a rude public tantrum because his daddy won’t let him kick ass proves to be one of the most pathetic fighters in the whole series. I can see why Daddy wanted to keep him away from the battlefield.

“But this I say unto you: Captain Jarriel cannot command the jealous generals of rival factions to set aside their pettishness.”

… I’m sorry, but what the hell? Shouldn’t those “rival factions” be, I dunno, NOBILITY? Not generals, whose entire purpose is to lead armies under the supervision of a king or parliamentary body? It sounds like the king’s just let his army split apart into a bunch of smaller armies under a bunch of rogue generals, and he’s been too lazy to bother getting them together.

Again, this is a scenario that actually made sense in Lord of the Rings, where Aragorn was trying to muster several armies from several different COUNTRIES. But here, it sounds like the king has left his army to rot, and now that the Forces Of Generic Evil are literally right outside their castle, he wants his son to go tell the commanders, “Hey, I’m royalty, so you’re supposed to follow me. So, like, come and fight the Forces of Evil.”

 
“Only one of the Royal Family can fire the will of the armies with the resolve and unity needed to meet and do battle with Modru’s Horde. And that is the command I have thrust upon you: to muster the forces and return unto me with them.”

… yes, because the best way to get your armed forces pumped is by bringing in a whiny, bratty prince with no fighting skills.

Where did McKiernan get the idea that royalty automatically gets respect and adoration from the commonfolk?!

“The commanding of that army, Sire, should be Galen’s task, not mine, for he is elder, by ten years,” answered Igon.

Yes, it makes perfect sense to send a 25-year-old off to TALK to a bunch of generals, and send a 15-year-old to fight a bunch of orc knockoffs.

Igon is a Darwin Award waiting to happen.

“But he is not here!” snapped the King, his voice rising, the flat of his hand slapping the table, setting cups atumble.

“He still hasn’t come back with my cigarettes!”

 
Then his look softened, and his speech became as courtly as was Igon’s.

WHY? Why is it EVERY time a person argues, they talk in Ye Olde Fantasie Speake?

Also, is everybody else just… sitting there, watching Igon throw a tantrum and his dad yelling at him? Wow, Igon’s a dick, isn’t he? He’s wrecking the party with his tantrum instead of having brought this up DAYS AGO in private. Also, he’s making his dad look weak in front of his soldiers, which is always a bad idea.

So the king basically says that he knows how Igon feels, but Igon should put on his big boy panties and quit whining cuz he’s got an important job to do. All their heralds are getting slaughtered and apparently nobody bothers to tell ANYONE else before sauntering off to join the king. And NOBODY can go off and tell the armies “yo, get ready!” EXCEPT royalty.

Of course this makes no fucking sense, because if the heralds are being killed and a bunch of Wobbits ALSO got attacked, then sending your son out with only a handful of men seems like a fucking stupid idea to me.

 
“This, then, is my charge unto thee: Bring unto me mine Host.”

Wait, Generic Fantasy King is Catholic? Or is he asking for a Korean horror movie? Or… or… it can’t be…. no… anything but that….

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO…. NOT THAT, ANYTHING BUT THAT!

Okay, I’m fine now. I’m calm, I’m collected, and I’m ready to focus on high fantasy and not shitty soft sci-fi ripped off from Stargate SG-1 and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

So apparently this argument – which is basically “Quit whining!” – is just too convincing for Igon to keep whining. They hug, chug booze, and Igon drunkenly offers Laurelin a “sword-oath” to get her to Stonehill with a minimum of fatalities. I look forward to his crushing failure.

 
“Hear me now: I take upon myself a sword-oath to ward you to safety on our travel to Stonehill; let the Enemy in Gron beware.”

Yes, I’m sure Modru and his vast army are terrified of a guy who still doesn’t shave.

 
Laurelin smiled radiantly up at him. “I am most pleased to have you as a protector, Lord Igon, though I would that neither of us had that journey to make.”

Oh, just have sex already. It’s obvious you both want to.

So even though Igon (I just accidentally wrote “Eragon”) throws a fit in the middle of the party, it just goes on like nothing happened at all. There’s music and magic tricks, and it’s all very boring.

 
Finally a harper played, but his song was of love lost and sad unto the heart. Patrel looked at Laurelin and saw that tears glistened upon her lashes, and he nudged Tuck and Danner, who saw her sadness, too.

“Psssttt, look at that. She’s so sad she’s crying!”
“You think we have a chance to score?”

So having had a pint of ale…

… Patrel is now so drunk that he wants to host his own little karaoke night. So he actually SUMMONS the harper. No kidding. There’s no way a sober person would do this.

 
“Have you got a lute?” Patrel asked. “Good! May I borrow it?”

He’s a harper. Harpers play HARPS. Why the hell would you assume he has a lute? Just because they both have strings doesn’t mean they’re the same. If McKiernan wanted Patrel to play music, why not have a lutist?

But conveniently the harper DOES have a lute on him… for some reason… and he’s more than happy to lend it to a drunk Wobbit.

 
“My Lady, it is nearly mid of night, and in but a few moments you will be nineteen.”

“I see this by yon digital clock on yonder wall.”

 
“We of the Boskydells have nought to give you as a present on this your birthday eve,”

You don’t give people presents on the day BEFORE their birthday, dumbshit.

Also, nobody from anywhere has given Laurelin any presents that we know of, so how come the Wobbits keep harping on it?

 
“yet there is a happy song, really nought but a ditty, that perchance will cheer you. It is called The Merry Man in Boskledee , and practically every Warrow in the Boskydells knows it and the dance that goes along.”

“Now if you’ll just bring out the stripper poles, we can start dancing!”

 
“I propose that Tuck and Danner and I perform it as the Warrows’ gift to you.”

… oh no. No no no no. We are NOT going to have a musical number! I can’t take a terrible poem complete with twee dancing! It might actually kill me!

 
“Nonsense!” roared Vidron, his mood jovial. ” ‘Twere no better time than now for a happy jig.”

“I hath drunk much of Ye Olde Sauce!”

But Laurelin wants this chapter to be as fucking sugary and Disneyesque as possible…

… so she insists that they need to sing for her because she’s SO sad and emo. Unlike, you know, EVERYONE ELSE IN THE CITY, including people who are actually going to fight instead of sitting on their asses.

 
Tuck looked into the pleading eyes of the Lady and could not refuse, and neither it seemed could Danner.

Because there’s no one more persuasive than vapid, self-absorbed, whiny blondes who cry every ten minutes.

Patrel plunked the strings, tuning the lute, and said under his breath to to the other two, “Give it your best go.”

“Are you kidding? You’re the one who got us into this mess! The next time I see you drinking, I’m throwing your ass in the horse trough.”

 
And such a bright and lively tune sprang forth that it immediately set toes to tapping and fingers to rapping,

and lustily the Warrows began to sing:

“There once was a girl from East Vick, who said she’d never gobbled a…”

And now, because it’s been awhile, it’s time for… hoo boy… a musical number that fails completely because

  1. it’s very hard to convey music and dance in a book.
  2. There’s no sensory overlap between music/dance and what you’re reading, so it falls really flat.
  3. The best you can do is write a really good poem and describe the sensations associated with the music.
  4. And McKiernan… is not a good poet.

 
Oh – Fiddle-dee hi, fiddle-dee ho, Fiddle-dee hay ha hee.
Wiggle-dee die, wiggle-dee doe, Wiggle-dee pig die dee.

I think… wait… hold on… yes, the last of my brain cells just officially died.

 
Once there was a very merry Man
Who came to Boskledee.
His coat was red and his horse was tan,
And mittens, well he had three.

We suspect he was on drugs. What other kind of person would have three mittens and be unnaturally cheerful?

 
He was so tall but his horse so small,
His feet dragged on the ground.
He didn’t dismount when the steed was tired,
He simply walked around.

He also is clearly an idiot, because what other kind of person would buy a horse that they don’t fit on?

I think this is meant to be charmingly folksy, especially since ALL the people there love this whole performance, but it’s a pretty mediocre song. Also, it doesn’t scan, and the rhyme scheme doesn’t make much sense. Look at the first lines of the first two stanzas – one of them has an internal rhyme, and one doesn’t. Also, the first one is ABAB, and the second is ABCB.

A great roar of laughter rose up from the assembly,

I’m going to assume that the people watching are pretty drunk by now, since they’ve been eating and drinking for several hours. At this point, they would probably laugh at a cat licking its butt.

 
and here Tuck and Danner, silver- and black-armor clad, danced a simple but rigorous to-and-fro jig to the beat of the tune, occasionally linking arms to wildly circle oppositely.

They then got dizzy and threw up.

And I have to wonder if armor, even light armor, keeps you from being able to move so effectively. I mean, you have some kind of chain mail, you have some kind of padded clothing under it… it seems like bad, bad dancing clothing.

 
Oh Ho ho ho, ha ha ha,
Higgle-dee hay hi hee.
Har har har, ya ya ya,
Giggle-dee snig snag snee.

See, this is why I say that McKiernan isn’t a very good poet. He keeps having to make up words to fill in the rhyme.

He tumbled hand springs, wore seven rings,
Shot fireworks in the air.

… out of what? His ass?

 
His pants were orange and his shoes bright green,
He cried, “Let’s have a fair!”

This is not a song. This is a random collection of unconnected observations.

 
He strummed upon a six string-ed lute
And sang so merrily.
His voice, it broke with a great loud croak,
And he laughed in happy glee.

“Haha! Laryngitis is hilarious!”

And this is another problem: when there are some parts that do rhyme effectively, it’s only with weird, irrational images. Also, that was an ABCCB.

 
Again the warrior Captains howled in mirth and banged the tables with their mead cups.

A really refined bunch, aren’t they? Maybe the king should start serving something OTHER than booze at these parties, because apparently all bets are off.

And since this whole scene isn’t nauseatingly twee enough, Laurelin and Igon come prancing down to dance with the Wobbits. Yeah, apparently royalty doesn’t have to act like it – they can go bouncing off and dance for everybody else’s entertainment whenever they feel like it, and nobody will think it’s weird.

Oh Har har har, fa la la,

… la la la la… don we now our gay apparel….

 
Cackle-dee ha ho hee.
Ho ho ho, tra la la,
Giggle-dee turn ta tee.

This was clearly written by someone on drugs.

 

He disappeared with a flash and a bang
And maybe a puff of smoke.

… THE DEVIL! Holy shit, Satan himself likes to randomly wander into Wobbit villages under the guise of a charmingly insane… whatever-the-hell-he-is! QUICK! Get your crosses and holy water! Get an exorcist! The Boskydells are the summer home of SATAN!


Oh Har har har, fa la la…

He left behind his clothes and his lute,
His steed, and a couple of jokes.

Also an unpaid bar tab, a few dead bodies, and a FAINT SMELL OF BRIMSTONE!

 
And now there is in old Boskledee
Fireworks at the annual fair,
Where we wear bright clothes and ride ponies
With gay songs filling the air.

… when we’re not sacrificing goats on bloody skull altars to the Lord of Evil!

(Also, the scanning there is PAINFUL).

 
Oh Tiddle tee turn, ho ho ho,
Tra-la-la lay la lee.
Fiddle-dee fum, lo lo to,
Ha-ha-ha ho ha hee.
Oh Fiddle-dee fum, lo lob,
Ha-ha-ha ho ha hee.
Tiddle tee turn, ho ho ho,
Tra-la-la lay la lee Hey!

You can’t fool me, saccharinely folksy tales of lovably eccentric weirdos! I know that you’ve all sold your souls to Lucifer! Who knows why they fire off those fireworks?!

Also…. how the fuck does anyone sing a song like this? Try actually singing a line like “oh fiddle-dee fum lo lob” in any kind of natural way. Not to mention the terrifying way “ha ha ha ho ha hee!” sounds when you SING laughter instead of laughing for real.

So everybody thinks the performance was WAY awesomer than the harpist, or the magicians, or the wrestling, or ANYTHING else. Even the king doesn’t seem annoyed by his son and future daughter-in-law prancing around for soldiers’ entertainment. Which means it’s time for…

Boom! Doom!

Batman has arrived!

No, actually it’s some random bleeding soldier who (even though his arm is injured) somehow throws open the door and walks right into the hall. Wow, security kind of sucks, doesn’t it? Anybody can just walk right up to the king unchallenged!

 
All eyes were locked upon the warrior as he came unto the throne dais. He struck a clenched fist to his heart and knelt upon one knee before the King, and blood dripped upon the stone.

“Awww, dammit, the servants just cleaned that floor! somebody get a mop!”

Actually, this scene just doesn’t make sense on several levels:

  1. Okay, I assume they’re supposed to have sentries and guards and stuff. Why didn’t anyone alert the king that someone was coming, especially one of his own men?
  2. And why do they allow this man, who is LOSING A LOT OF BLOOD, to go stomping in there instead of giving him medical attention and sending someone else to bring the king the message?
  3. Either the guards are assholes…
  4. … or this guy managed to ride all the way through the city, through the last set of gates, up to the castle, and walk in the door without ANYONE asking him what was up. Were those Wobbits all asleep?!

 
“Sire, on this dark Yule Eve, I bear thee tidings from my Lord Galen, though ill word it is:”

“He hath not found you a necktie in that color you like so much.”

 
“The Dimmendark now stalks this way, the Black Wall moves toward Challerain Keep.”

… thanks, but we knew that already.

 
“And in the Winter-night that follows, the Horde of ravers marches. The War with Modru has begun.”

RAVERS? Hah! Little do they know that here, they only sing folk songs to Satan, with no EDM to be found!

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