So we open with…. that Spindlethorn Barrier that McKiernan tells us about in almost every book he writes. I AM BORED ALREADY.
So we have three people riding in a wagon (I refuse to call it a “waggon”). There is literally a page devoted to nothing but them riding through the Thornwall, and how it takes them TWO HOURS. Seriously! Two hours! Does McKiernan have any idea how far you can travel in two hours even on foot?
The countryside they could see before them was one of rolling farmland, and the road they followed ran on to the west, cresting a rise to disappear only to be seen again topping the crest beyond.
Is it too much to just say “it was hilly”?
And where there’s charming idyllic farmland, you can expect to find endearing folksy countryfolk. And since this takes place inside the Thornwall, we can expect to see… farmer WOBBITS!
So the people in the wagon – who have still not been identified – stop when they see people harvesting grain in a nearby field. Although since the Wobbits are supposed to be three feet or under, I’m not sure how well you could see them in a ripe grain field.
“Hola!” hailed the waggoner.
“Me llamo Aragorn Knockoff! Me gusta queso!”
For some reason all the Wobbits are immediately spooked by this: the males who had been cutting stepped to the fore, while females and oldsters who had been bundling sheaves drifted to the rear, and the young ones who had been gleaning scurried to the back and peered around from behind skirts to look at the strangers.
- Why the hell are the women wearing skirts if they’re working out in the fields?
- The Wobbits better hope that there aren’t any burglars around, because apparently everybody has left the houses unattended.
- How can the Wobbits even see the guys in the wagon? They shouldn’t be able to see anything! THEY’RE SHORT!
- Again, why are they scared of the guys in the wagon?
- Then again, maybe they should be. We still don’t know what’s in the wagon! It could be orcs for all we know!
“We are here on the High King’s business,” called the driver, “and we seek the way to Sir Tuckerby’s Warren.”
“The High King wishes to borrow his hedge clippers.”
This apparently gets the attention of one random Wobbit, who comes wandering over to talk to them. And it’s Suey-Hobbit description time!
Small he was, three and a half feet tall,
The wagon driver then picked him up and gave him a noogie.
His hair was black and cropped at the shoulder.
Take a shot. In this series, there’s almost no other haircut for men.
His ears were pointed like those of the Elves, and there was also an Elven tilt to his bright, liquescent eyes – Utruni eyes, some would say, for the orbs of the Wee Folk resemble those of the Stone Giants. Yet, unlike the Giants, Warrow eyes are not true gems, but instead are astonishingly jewel-hued: sapphire blue; emerald green; and the third and last color, topaz gold.
Yes, I know Elijah Wood’s Frodo came much later, but I can’t help it.
And really, this description sums up why I call them Hobbit Sues. It’s like someone took the Hobbits and Suefied them – McKiernan took the fairly down-home, ordinary, big-footed Hobbits and gave them ENORMOUS jewel-toned eyes, took away the big hairy feet, and made them chibi elves. They can’t just have pretty eyes – they have specific jewel-toned eyes in only three colors! No variation!
The Warrow gives them directions to Woody Hollow, which is FIFTY MILES AWAY. I sort of wonder if McKiernan realizes how far that is by horse-and-cart.
“Could you use a drink of water on this warm day, or something to eat? For I know travellers build up a thirst from the dusty road… and get hungry too.”
That made my head hurt with how disjointed it was.
The driver says they’ve got food and drink with them, which makes sense since they’ve already been going for hours and are apparently planning to keep going for FIFTY MILES. So he continues driving and suddenly the Warrows are all fine and dandy about these weird strangers passing through their lands – the Warrows wave back to them, and the kids even chase their wagon. So, if weird strangers have a destination in mind, they’re not alarming?
And we STILL don’t know who the hell these people are! I assume they’re not Wobbits since since then the Wobbits wouldn’t be reacting to the sight of them. They can’t be Utruni or Hidden Ones, since they don’t happily trot out in front of everyone. So that cuts it down to:
And I doubt it’s Elves, because there’s no mention of them being elegant and beautiful and all that.
“Hmph! So those are Waerans,” growled one of the passengers
“Somehow I expected them to be barefoot.”
“No, those are Hobbits.”
“I find it hard to think of such a small Folk as being legendary heroes.”
I do too, but mainly because they are very, very twerpy.
“Yet heroes they are,” said the driver, “and brave at that.”
Dude, there are OTHER races that had a lot more people involved in fighting wars. The Wobbits were the MINORITY compared to the Elves or Humans. How come they aren’t being hailed as being a race of heroes?!
So the people in the wagon infodump that they are there to get the journal of Tuckerby Underbank, legendary crybaby from The Dark Tide who spent the whole novel writing in his diary. I think it’s because Frodo recorded his experiences at the end of the LOTR trilogy, but really the journal didn’t add anything to the story.
“Well do my kith honor his memory, even though his deeds lie more than two centuries in the past.”
“Especially since his deeds took, like, two and a half minutes.”
“Yet what my brother says is true: the iron of bravery seems to seek out this folk; but I, too, would have deemed them too small to hold such mettle.”
The driver turned to his seatmate. “Lore has it, though, that these Wee Ones – these Waerlinga – have played more than one key role in the fate of Mithgar, no matter their size – for stature alone does not measure the greatness of a heart.”
Twice. Twice in maybe two thousand years! And in both those occasions, they didn’t really do anything that other people couldn’t do! These are not like the Hobbits in LOTR, who were the ONLY people humble, strong and ambitionless to carry the One Ring and resist the temptation to use it – and even then, some of them fold under pressure.
And even then, they weren’t immediately hailed as heroes forever and ever by EVERYBODY. Most people didn’t even know much about them. But merely being brave – or being in the right place at the right time – does not make you “legendary” or any more heroic than other people. And HELPING save the world a couple of times doesn’t make your species or race inherently brave or heroic.
So the three completely unidentified individuals just go wandering off… to do something… somewhere.