The Halfling House Part 1

So we start in a craphole. Literally. Well, almost literally – it’s a disgusting alley filled with crap, sludge and all sorts of other fun things.

We sent Tynvyr on ahead, riding her fox, while the rest of us slithered through the slip and squish of the alley.

… oh. It’s one of THOSE stories. The ones where they start in the middle without introducing the characters properly… then jump back in time, apparently just to confuse you.

Also, “slip” is a verb and “squish” is a onomatopoeia/verb. Neither is a noun.

So Marley the Gnome is complaining that Fiz the Pixie’s wings poked him in the eye, and Fiz is pissed because he’s hitting her wings with his eye.

Here we were in the middle of the night on a secret rescue mission, and already the Gnome and Pixie were at each other’s throats.

Tchah, isn’t it always like that? I know all my secret rescue missions are ruined that way!

And McKiernan happily tells us that the entire place is full of sewage and rotting stuff, which is practically making everything else puke.

Too, a trickle of foul water seemed always underfoot, and we slithered and slipped in the mud and slime, jerking this way and that to keep from falling.

Yes, they’re practically ninjas. Quick question: between the arguments and crashing around while gagging uncontrollably, HOW are they supposed to have a secret rescue mission? Minions of evil will hear them miles away.

Fiz demands to know why she isn’t allowed to fly… which seems to be a decent question, since a flying lookout could tell them what is up ahead. Oh, and we find out the protagonist’s name is Bork, which sounds like a sharp burp. And before he can say anything, Genial Accented Irish Stereotype speaks up: “Faith, lass, isn’t ‘t told that the divil himself has wingedy creatures, anow?”

First… UUUGGGGGHHHHH, THE ACCENT. It burns!

Secondly, I don’t remember that being in Sunday School. Yes, devils and demons are often depicted with wings, but I don’t think anybody actually thinks that bodiless spirits of evil have literal wings.

“Blood-suckin’ bats and sich, they say.”

FAIL. STOP. RIGHT. THERE.

Bats are not creatures of the devil, and it pisses me off when people claim otherwise. Why are there so many dipshits out there claiming that they’re bad, creepy or even evil just because they’re nocturnal? I can understand if you don’t really like them – we all have our preferences – but there are no animal species that are evil. Same applies to snakes.

Just because some medieval morons decided to illustrate demons as having bat wings doesn’t mean bats are demonic. Neither does being equated with vampires.

And yes, that applies to vampire bats, which almost never attack people. Vampire bats are just bats that have evolved to need blood in order to survive. Hell, 99.5% of them don’t even have rabies, and THAT is the biggest threat they pose. They’re no more “evil” than your basic carnivore – do you think cats, bears, ferrets, etc. are evil because they eat flesh?

The idiot who knows nothing about bats is Rafferty. He’s Irish. Guess what kind of creature he is. Faith and begorrah, someone’s stolen me Lucky Charms!

If Rafferty’s source had been right, Khassan did have creatures of the night patrolling above.

Who’s Khassan? Why does he have Satanic Bats of Evil serving him? We don’t know! He hasn’t explained!

We’d have to wary of them, too, especially if they were owls.
Big owls.
Big enough to carry any one of us off in its talons.

… so why are owls worse than anything else?

And how small ARE these characters? The word “Halfling” seems to imply somebody half as small as a human (which is why people refer to hobbits as such, since they have roughly half the mass of a human), but the people here seem to be much, much smaller. A pixie is not going to be three feet tall, and I don’t think a gnome or leprechaun is either.

I’ve heard the word “Halfling” used in other ways, but… well, it usually means someone of half-blood or half maturity, not half-size.

And if owls or bats didn’t get us, then surely the alley rats would snatch us away down some dark hole.

Ooooookay, I think we have our answer. Can anyone imagine a hobbit being carried off by a rat?

And if someone suggests that rats are Satanic, I may set fire to something.

“Oof!” grunted Marley, stepping in a rut slsh! full of malodorous water.

… onomatopoeia. They do not belong right in the middle of a sentence.

Bork proceeds to whine for about two paragraphs about how much their situation sucks, and how the world itself is screwing them over by keeping it overcast so they can’t see. It might help if they got out of a sewage-filled alley too. I can’t see how light would improve THAT situation.

here we were in a pitch black alley–a Pixie, a Gnome, a Leprechaun, and a Brownie… while somewhere ahead was a Pysk riding a fox–

… oh man.

Ever heard the Sesame Street song about one of these things not being like the other? It’s like that. Now, we have Brownies, Pixies, Gnomes and Leprechauns. All of those creatures come from European folklore in one part or another, usually a faerie creature from Celtic myth.

But a Pysk… you won’t find that in any mythological websites. Why? Because MCKIERNAN MADE THEM UP. They are part of his “Hidden Ones” from his Mithgar series, which are basically any weird wacky fey creatures he can come up with. The Pyska are supposed to be Barbie-sized humanoids who ride foxes. They’re also teeth-grindingly annoying, especially when they refuse to EVER SHUT UP. And this is not a side-species that isn’t really important to the goings-on – there is a whole book about a Pysk.

So yeah, McKiernan just inserted his made-up creatures in the midst of a bunch of actual mythological creatures. WTF. Why did he do that?! It’s not wrong, but it’s… distracting. And seriously, dude, it takes FICTIONAL mythical creatures a lot longer to attain that kind of might-as-well-be-real-mythology quality. The Pysk ain’t Hobbits.

And fun linguistic fact: “pysk” or “pyske” is one of the root words for “Pixie.” So…. yeah, totally redundant.

But just you wait. It gets worse. Much, much worse.

trying to avoid the owls and bats and rats, any one of which could probably rip us to shreds.
I mean, when you stand only a foot or two high, these things are terrible foes.

Um… no.

  1. Those animals are SMALL. Really small.
  2. Rats can sit on your shoulder with room to spare. Bats (non-fruit-eating) are even tinier. Owls might be a plausible threat, but they don’t typically go after prey as large as they are.
  3. Here’s the thing, NONE of those creatures would try to go after a prey as large as they are, or much larger. It’s a recipe for failure, which in the world of wildlife often means DEATH.
  4. Hell, could an owl even take off with a two-foot-tall humanoid in its claws? Even a one-foot-tall one would be stretching it.
  5. And bats? Most bats eat BUGS. Those are substantially smaller than one-or-two-feet-tall. The ones large enough to be a danger are herbivorous.
  6. Rats? Probably not. They typically eat creatures smaller than themselves. They will sometimes eat… ducks.
  7. Most of the creatures they attack are either not very aggressive, or they are so small that they do not pose a danger.
  8. And here’s the thing about wild predators: they don’t typically like to attack humans. Why? Because we will fight back, and we are weird strange erratic creatures with weird powers. This perception would not change if we were slightly smaller and had MAGICAL ABILITIES.
  9. And yes, that applies to cats too. Something that large would be capable of putting up a nasty fight.

And the stinking alley and the stinking night seemed to be filled with their stinking menace.

This man tried to write and publish a sequel to Lord of the Rings. I kid thee not.

Bork… you know what, I’m tired of writing that name. I shall call him Burp from now on. So Burp declares that he doesn’t even know who they’re there to rescue. Then an alleycat comes along.

And then suddenly we’re jolted back in time fast enough to give us whiplash. It turns out that Burp was in need of a vacation after lots of hard work doing… whatever he does, so he decides to join up at the Halfling House. What is the Halfling House? Well, it’s sort of like the TARDIS, but with lower ceilings and more bedrooms.

And because I’m lazy, I shall call it the Hotel TARDIS.

Anyway, the Hotel TARDIS hops around through time and space all the time, so if you want to travel in it, you need to hop on board as quickly as possible before the Doctor heads off to a new and exciting adventure somewhere in England. And for some reason, it’s only built for tiny little people.

And since I’d heard it was the very best way to travel, to see new and wonderful place,

As long as you don’t mind gross alien conspiracies every week…

Rudd and Meech, a couple of barn Bwca–cousins of mine, you might say–

… so are they related or not? I don’t introduce gorillas as “cousins of mine, you might say.”

tell it materializes out of thin air… but then, they had been drinking when they claimed they had witnessed its appearance, and who can believe anything seen through the eyes of a drunken Bwca?

…. I wish I could tell you, but honestly your fantastic racism doesn’t translate if I don’t know what a Bwca is.

googles it

Apparently they are a type of Welsh house fae… which means that “barn Bwca” is completely nonsensical.

And really, what reason does he have to NOT believe them? It obviously travels around by magical means, unless he thinks that the owner is just whipping up instant buildings overnight. So just appearing doesn’t seem too improbable.

Others say that it seeps up from the ground… after all, the roof is made of sod.

… why? Does he think the roof gets left behind whenever it leaves?

soon or late it will vanish just as well.

At least that was what I was counting on.
If the tales were true.

… why? Has he got a pregnant ex he’s trying to escape from? Does he owe somebody money? Why is he “counting on” it vanishing without a trace? And you know, if I were hitching a ride on the Hotel TARDIS, I’d probably wanna know if it was planning to come back in the direction of my home sometime.

So the Hotel TARDIS is a fifteen-foot-tall inn with quaint this and charming that, with Sparkly Speshul windows that don’t let you see what’s behind them. I… don’t know what that has to do with anything.

It also has a door plaque that says:

The Hotel TARDIS Halfling House
Any and All
Halflings and Wee Folk
WELCOME
Dando Thistledown, Prop.

…. oh, fuck my donkey. He’s not just inserting Fox Riders. He’s also inserting WOBBITS. How do I know? I know because he’s recycling names from other works he’s authored.

I swear to you, it has to be some kind of blasphemy to insert your own Suefied hobbit clones into an anthology MEANT TO HONOR JRR TOLKIEN. The Fox Riders were bad, but this anthology wasn’t about faerie creatures, so it wasn’t AS bad. But this… I mean… what?! WHAT?! Who has the cast-iron balls to do something like that?!

Like all places of its kind, it was larger on the inside than out.

You see? TARDIS!

As if the pain hasn’t subsided yet, we’re introduced to Dando: a tall Halfling with Elfy-welfy slanty but jewellike eyes … he had to be more than twice my height, three foot five if he was an inch–a regular high pockets.

I think I just got an aneurysm from that one paragraph. Holy hell, that was just… indescribably bad.

  1. What the hell is a “high pockets”? I googled this, and I got a Memphis billiards hall, a yacht, a coffee brand, and the urbandictionary.com definitions which are, and I quote, Having a very large, very high ass and Someone who is really cheap. Neither seems to apply here.
  2. The descriptions of Warrow eyes, which McKiernan loves, are enough to make me cry.
  3. I mean “slanty but jewellike”? What editor looked at that and thought, “Yeah, it’s good.”
  4. And is McKiernan saying that slanted eyes are usually mutually exclusive from “jewellike” eyes? I’m a little confused.
  5. And… Elfy-welfy. The entire reason I decided to snark this story was that one phrase.
  6. ELFY-WELFY.



Dando asks if Burp is there for a room, which is kind of a silly question. I mean, why would he be in there if he didn’t want a room? Curiosity-seekers would probably be happy just to see it.

“yes, your loftiness, a room please.”

Burp’s kind of a smartass, isn’t he?

But before he gets a room, Burp asks for assurance that there are no owls on the premises. Dando tells him, “No owls. Also no cats, rats, dogs, bats, hawks, weasels, cobras, mongooses or mongoose, or any other thing of the sort.”

“Also no cows. One of us drowned when one of them, uh, had stomach issues. No parrots, after that infamous pecking incident. And no wallabies… don’t ask why. We don’t speak of it.”

“The last time there was anything dangerous in here was when we went to the Emerald Isle, and this fool drove a massive herd of snakes right over the top of us. Filled the place right up, he did, and for that you can blame Rafferty, who ran in just ahead of them and forgot to shut the door. We had to go to Iceland to chill ’em into a torpor, then to a desert far to the west, where we shoveled them out the door and into the fields of tall cacti as fast as we could, before they had a chance to recover in the desert heat and start that wriggling and rattling again.”

… I… I… wh… d… th… he…

  1. Because nothing says comedy like SAINT PATRICK.
  2. Whose snake-banishing was metaphorical. Ireland doesn’t have snakes naturally.
  3. Okay, that MIGHT have been a little funny if it had been ONE sentence, or two at the most. But when it’s a ten minute ramble, that just sucks all the funny out.

Burp is horrified by this: Now I could worry about a whole new pantheon of things what could grab me in the dark. Our hero is a wiener, everyone. Yes, I can appreciate “ordinary” heroes, but so far, Burp hasn’t given me any reason to think he’s got any inner strength or courage or other characteristics.

And it seems a little out-of-character, if he’s a wimp, for him to be seeking adventure or new worlds or whatever.

Dando pretty obviously lies about the snakes being gone (seriously, he crosses his fingers), and Burp… doesn’t seem worried about this.

You could say that there was just the tee tiniest bit of doubt lingering in my mind, but, I did need holiday rest.

So… you’ve got lots of new phobias, but poisonous snakes don’t actually interfere in your enjoyment of the Hotel TARDIS.

So Burp asks for a room, a meal and some ale, and saunters off to the common-area while Dando tries to avoid a rattlesnake. It’s basically a pub with at least two fireplaces, a giant table and lots of of squishy furniture. The rest is not really important.

And… oh no. Oh no.

But then there was another one of these Halflings, a different kind from Proprietor Dando, but a Halfling still. Rotund of girth, as best as I could judge with him sitting down, he was maybe three foot eight or nine.

… which according to the previous descriptions of a four-foot-high ceiling… means his head should almost be scraping it.

Unlike Dando, this one had no Elven ears and jewellike eyes, but instead he had these enormously large hairy feet!

OH NO. NO NO NO NO FUCK NO.

NO.

Bare! Propped on a footstool before him. And, oh my, what clodhoppers they were. Cor! These had to be the biggest pair of dogs I ever clapped eyes on.

NONONONONONONONONO. STOP NOW. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. NO NO NO NO.

And I know feet! I’m a cobbler, after all. Lor! If I had to make a pair of shoes for him, blimey! it’d take a whole cow just to get the job done.

HAR-HAR-FUCKING-HAR.

Holy fuck, this is just offensive. Yes. This is a hobbit. In a story… in an anthology honoring J.R.R. Tolkien. And this wouldn’t bother me if:

  1. McKiernan didn’t spend the WHOLE time this hobbit is onstage… mocking him.
  2. McKiernan didn’t spend the WHOLE story glorifying his own derivative halflings while he’s shitting all over the original ones that HE’S RIPPED OFF.

I’m not saying you can’t derive humor from hobbits, but NOT if you’ve made a living off of openly ripping them off. Yeah, nobody makes things completely originally, but J.R.R. Tolkien came damn close sometimes. McKiernan? He has literally lifted names, characters and concepts from Tolkien and just filed off the serial numbers, so the idea of him getting HUMOR from the stuff he’s ripping off is just OFFENSIVE.

And… the way he presents the hobbit is so UGLY and mean-spirited. I mean, humor is derived from other characters, but with the hobbit it’s literally listing all the things about him that McKiernan thinks are inferior to the Warrows. Like EW, he has big feet, and he’s FAT, and he’s BORING, and blah blah blah.

Honestly, it feels like there’s more than a little resentment here, maybe because Tolkien’s hobbits are still much, much more beloved than McKiernan’s Suified Warrows.

But even if I’m being oversensitive and he wasn’t being mean-spirited here… it’s just so OBVIOUS. I mean, this anthology is a homage to Tolkien, yes. But IIRC, the other stories in this anthology weren’t about things copied from Tolkien. If they had influences I could detect, they were more about tone and magic than “Checkitout! Here’s a cameo by a random hobbit! For reasons!”

But Burp isn’t interested in the Hobbit RAGE RAGE HATE MURDER KILL…

Sorry. I’m back now.


“I’m Fiz,” said a voice next to me.

“And these are my sisters, Bubble and Sparkle.”

She was a little bit of a thing, twelve inches or so, the top of her head with its straw-colored hair just reaching my ribcage, though the upper tips of her gauzy wings o’ertopped my head slightly.

This is our love interest for Burp, a Pixie with no real personality except “love interest.” Hollywood would struggle to create a token female character this shallow. And she’s really, really attracted to Burp even though he is as interesting as Elmer’s glue and has the charisma of cold oatmeal.

And because I have a filthy little mind, I’m kind of wondering how the mechanics of this couple would work. I mean, sex seems kind of iffy because she’s literally half his size… unless Burp is hung like a gerbil.

“Oh, I’m a house sprite, spreading cheer among the children of the family I watch over.” Her smile lit up the whole room. “At the nonce, I am between children: they’ve grown up, but will soon have babes of their own. Then will I return to the family.”

… well, I can tell I’m going to hate THIS character. Actually, I haven’t encountered a character I like in this story.

Burp stops drooling and turns his attention to the Gnome, who is even hotter. And by “hotter,” I mean he’s a germophobe with OCD.

“This is one hand of a pair of hands that handle dirty shoes? Dirty shoes that fit smelly feet? Feet of all folk, no matter what disease might rack their bodies? And you want me, me to come into contact with it, to grip it, to squeeze it? Yuck!”

I think we’re supposed to dislike this character, but he has a point. Shaking hands is a pretty disgusting habit unless you know the other person washes them regularly. And when the other person is a cobbler…

“Say,” he interrupted, “you’re not one of those foot fetishists, now, are you?”

… well, this story is maintaining its track record of unlikeable douchebags.

Fiz, rather than recognizing that this guy is a total freak, immediately is horrified by the idea of Burp seeing her feet. So yeah, she’s an idiot. And frankly, Burp would be a LOT more interesting if he did have a weird fetish.

“Ah, now m’lad,” said the Leprechaun, “pay him no heed. He’s f’r needin’ holiday, too. Gone spotty in th’ head, what with all that hammerin’ day and night. Sure and his name is Marley, and me, wellanow, I am called Rafferty by some what know me, and I’m jist along f’r th’ roide, keepin’ auld Marley here company.”

“Faith and begorrah, somebody’s stolen me Lucky Charms! Tis the luck of the Irish and the Blarney stone and me pot o’gold!”

And because he’s Irish, Rafferty is wearing nothing but green, green, green and more green.

Then we’re introduced to the… ugh, Pysk Tynvyr. And just in case you could possibly miss the pixie/Pysk connection, we’re assured that she looks almost exactly like Fiz, sans wings.

“I am Tynvyr, from the land far to the west,

… California?

and this is Rufous.”
She turned and called, “Rufous,” and from behind the couch that Bigfoot sat on, there came a—

Oh fuck no. I suffered through enough of that in Voyage of the Fox Rider.

Burp immediately shits a brick… and since he likes to spread the misery, he immediately body-checks Dando and completely destroys all the food Dando is holding in his panic.

the tray flying wide, dishes and flatware and stew and bread and ale sailing through the air to clatter and smash and slosh and phoomp and splash and shatter and tinkle and run and dribble hither and thither and yon.

What, aren’t there a few more paragraphs of sound effects you can add in them? Plop? Smoosh? Splat?

Somewhere in the distance, it seemed, I could hear the Gnome shrieking, too, something about being covered with filthy, disease-laden food.

If you think it’s diseased… why would you stay at that inn? I mean, does he plan to not EAT during his stay?

Dando grabbed me by my tunic front, pulling me down into his snarling face, gritting, “Save you from what?”

“The dog, you fool!” I shouted. “You said that there were no dogs here, but one is attacking me right now! Ripping out my throat, my jugular vein!”

… you know, emphasizing that your protagonist is a fucking idiot doesn’t endear us to him. Especially when his fucking idiocy ends up spraying everyone else in lunch while he body-slams the person who runs the place.

Dando points out the incredibly obvious, namely that

  1. There is no dog, just a fox.
  2. It’s obviously not ripping out his jugular vein if he’s alive and well to ruin everyone else’s life.

I won’t go into another rant about how only a person who has never seen a dog before could mistake a fox for one, because Burp is an idiot and probably mistakes raccoons for dogs.

Yes, it’s a fox. Meaning the Pysk is a Fox Rider, which means that we’re probably going to spend the entire fucking story listening to her argue with a codger.

After being assured that the fox totally won’t eat him and isn’t dangerous, which he doesn’t buy, Burp finally accepts that hey, it probably won’t eat him. I’m not sure why he thinks it would eat HIM, as opposed to any of the smaller “halflings” in the place, or the ones that seem to be roughly the same size as him.

Somewhat reassured, I looked up at three-foot-five Dando. “So turn me loose, oh tall one.”

You’re the one who jumped on HIM, you tiny twat.

Dando unsurprisingly wants Burp to pay for everything he just destroyed, since Burp was the one who body-tackled him. But Burp’s stupid excuse was “You should have warned me about the dog.” And no number of points that HELLO, IT’S A FOX are able to sway his conviction that this is Dando’s fault for not warning him. Am I supposed to actually like Burp, who has demonstrated that he’s a judgmental weenie who likes to spread misery wherever he goes? He’s like the fantasy version of Neelix.

Again, if the fox were actually dangerous, WOULD IT BE HERE? This place is supposed to have a lot of tiny people, most of whom seem to be roughly the same size as Burp. If the crazed germophobe isn’t freaking out about its presence, I think there’s a chance it’s not dangerous.

Of course, Dando apparently is a liar, because he glances at a cabinet where a rattling noise is coming from. So yes, there is something dangerous in the building. Fuck you, sparkly eyes.

“Well, what about rattly snakes?” I didn’t know what a rattly snake was but—

– but I was going to use that to bolster my excuses for my stupid behavior.

Dando finally offers to go halfsies on the costs, while Burp continues to be convinced that the fox Rufous wants to eat him.

“What is he?” I asked Rafferty as I watched Dando walk away. “Pointy ears, slanty jewellike eyes, Halfling sized. I’d call him an Elf, but for his eyes and his size.”

He’s a Wobbit. Like hobbits, but Suey. Since Elves are all things graceful and pretty, we need to be assured that McKiernan’s halflings are just like them, except with purty eyes.

“Dando, he’s what y’ moight call a Warrow, or some sich. Nobody t’ fool about with, them Warrows, from what I hear. Especially whin riled.”

Yes, because we’ve seen what happens when Wobbits are angered. Why, in the Iron Tower trilogy, they got their asses handed to them and just sat there being depressed until three teenagers told them to get up and do something. Then they needed to be bailed out by humans when the next wave of bad guys arrived.

And in the Hel’s Crucible duology, they mostly tag along with more competent people, and don’t do anything particularly impressive militarily. Sure, there are some archer Wobbits, but they don’t accomplish anything much compared to the other races, and most of the Wobbit population does jack-shit. Same with The Eye of the Hunter, where the two Wobbit characters know some basics of fighting but are nothing that great. Or the Silver Call duology, where the Wobbit characters are embarrassingly useless in every single fight scene, because they were written AS HOBBITS and therefore are unused to combat.

From behind came a comment. “They are much more prone to violence than my folk.”

“Seriously, just try to get between them and their pudding cups. Blood will be spilled.”

Yes, McKiernan wasn’t happy just shitting on hobbits with the “ewwww, look at their gross big feet and fatness!” He also has to depict them as passive and useless compared to his oh-so-awesome ripoffs, despite a demonstration in the final chapters of Lord of the Rings that hobbits can kick all sorts of ass when you piss them off.

“We live in small hamlets,” he added, “much the same as they do, but we’d rather eat and sleep and work in our gardens, whereas they hunt and herd and farm and shoot bows and arrows and at times are rather warlike.”

Except for what we’ve actually read in McKiernan’s books, where they don’t typically do ANY of those things. In fact, I don’t remember them hunting, herding, farming or being warlike except when it’s absolutely necessary. I DO remember them living exactly like hobbits whenever possible, and depicting this as the norm. Ain’t continuity a bitch?

Let’s see:

  • Wobbits of The Iron Tower Trilogy: mostly stay at home and do pastoral things. The exceptions are adolescents drafted into the Thornwalkers, which is an atypical occurrence based on weird circumstances, and usually they just have a few people doing that stuff. Ain’t the Israeli army.
  • Perry is a professional scholar nerd, Holly is a housekeeper, and Cotton is a handyman. After the one “warlike” interval that Cotton didn’t want to go on, they all settle into pastoral bliss.
  • Tip is a miller, and Beau is a local healer. There ARE some Wobbit archers, but again it’s made clear that this is NOT a way of life. After the war, they settle into pastoral bliss.
  • Faeril and Gwylly live in little pastoral places until they have to go do prophetic things. Their “warlike” activities are mostly practice before that, and are emphasized as being atypical.

Oh, and before you shit on someone else’s works, do some research, McKiernan. Hobbits do in fact farm, or else how would a character like FARMER MAGGOT exist? They are mentioned as having livestock, using bows (when they have a fucking reason to), and the Fallohides liked to hunt. So yeah, fuck you.

“Fierce, you might say, and active. They are, indeed, Elflike, but they live only a hundred and twenty years or so, in contrast with Elves, who live forever if you believe the tales. I’m not certain that I do, what with all the travel I’ve done, the many and varied quests and great adventures that I’ve undertaken, throughout all the lands and across all the oceans, cities and hamlets and woodlands and intricate underground caverns and halls and …”

Well, it certainly sounds like he’s more interesting than anyone else in this stain on the napkin of literature. He’s actually done things other than assault innkeepers. He’s GONE places and DONE things.

But no, we’re assured that he’s the dullest dull person who ever dulled, which is rich coming from McKiernan. His Wobbits come across as morons at best, and his Wobbit protagonists tend to prattle about nothing at all for no reason until you want to stab yourself in the ear. And since he can wring whole chapters out of the characters doing ABSOFUCKINGLUTELY NOTHING BUT BITCHING AT EACH OTHER, he’s nobody to complain about someone being boring.

In fact, there are chapters that are literally nothing but the Wobbit characters infodumping each other about things THEY ALREADY KNOW, and we’re assured that this is totally normal. Anyone who writes characters who make transparent As You Know Bob speeches ALL THE FUCKING TIME is NOT allowed to criticize other people’s characters for being “boring.”

He droned on and on, never shutting up.

Much like the author.

We’re assured that Stupid Fat Hobbit (as Gollum would call him) talks endlessly while Burp tries to ignore him.

My meal came and went, and still he rambled on, endlessly, circuitously, tortuously … torturously, too, all the while jotting notes in a journal, recording, I believe, what he was saying at that very moment. Drone, drone, drone. Scribble, scribble, scribble. Drone, scribble, drone.

You know, I don’t know know WHERE the fuck this comes from. I mean, one of the defining characteristics of hobbits is that going off on epic adventures is ABNORMAL for them. That’s why Bilbo’s quest was a big deal.

So is this guy meant to be Bilbo? Well, clearly not, because apparently this guy hasn’t met Elves. And the second other species Bilbo met in Middle-Earth… WAS THE ELVES.

And it’s not like Bilbo had a reputation for boring people to sleep with his adventures. He had the reputation of being a weird crazy person who was a bad influence on the younguns because he went off on crazy adventures with dwarves and elves. So I don’t know where this “ooo, hobbits are SO boring and fat and lazy and they talk all the time!” shit came from.

Hey, maybe McKiernan had to come up with this stuff so people wouldn’t notice that the Wobbits are ripped directly off from hobbits, and that if you stripped off all the Suey prettiness, you would get an exact copy of Tolkien’s work. So he had to make the hobbits look bad by comparison.

Maybe instead of shoes for Bigfoot, I’d take that cowhide and make a full-body gag for him.

Hey, McKiernan? Maybe we’d be more likely to take these criticisms seriously if they came from someone COMPETENT, as opposed to a cowardly racist fuckup who thinks everything bigger than a horsefly is trying to eat him. So shut the fuck up.

As I was escorted up the spiral stairs to my room by another tall Warrow, this one a female (a damman, I believe they’re called), I saw Dando down on the floor with a forked stick and a gunny sack cautiously peering and poking a broom handle under the foot of the cabinet where the rattling sound had come from.

Har har, because it’s funny. Because there’s a snake there, and he said there weren’t any. Har har.

Well, that’s a fucking great way to start a story. So far we have a loathsome asshole as our protagonist, an array of cliches, freaks and cardboard cutouts as the supporting cast, and a huge steaming crap all over the author the anthology was supposed to be honoring. And the plot hasn’t even started yet.

Again, I am not inherently opposed to humorous stuff about Tolkien’s works. Everything can be funny, and humor can be derived from almost anything. If he had just made a gag about the feet, or said something like, “He told us about this dragon he had irritated, but I think he was just exaggerating,” that would have been funny. But when your entire CAREER is based on ripping off Tolkien, it’s just bad form to not only crap on his hobbits IN AN ANTHOLOGY DEVOTED TO HONORING HIM, but to do it to glorify your own obvious ripoffs.

Not cool. NOT. COOL.

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