So Kale sticks her head out of the hole and sees that there are three Designated Good Guys slaughtering the grawligs. Two of them are on dragons, which probably means that they’re from this Hall she’s going to. So we get a study of each one.
She recognized him as a fighting marione like the race of people populating River Away. His muscled frame, short and blocklike, stood solid against the onslaught.
So I’m going to randomly guess that mariones are like dwarves.
Known as farmers and fighters, the mariones could make any ground productive and defend any ground against invaders.
… except that they also apparently are expert farmers. So, I’m thinking a dwarf/hobbit hybrid? And thank you, Captain Infodump, for graciously telling us this crap instead of showing us! IN THE MIDDLE OF A FIGHT.
The dragons in the air were not as big as the Greater Dragons Kale had seen fly into the city.
The Greater Dragons are reserved for commercial airlines.
One large milky-white beast carried a giant warrior in armor and chain mail.
Chain mail (more correctly, just MAIL) is a KIND of armor. This is like saying that someone has a car and a Cadillac. Or they ate a pear and a fruit. Or they… well, you get the idea.
So this dragon-rider (NO, NOT ERAGON!) is fighting the grawligs in all sorts of elaborate maneuvers, flying around and throwing lances… yeah, I don’t know how many lances you can carry with you, even on a dragon. Lances are HUGE and heavy – maybe sixteen feet long and made of solid wood. You couldn’t throw them! You couldn’t carry more than one! They’re meant to be used on horses, ONE AT A TIME.
Also, even though the dragon and rider are swooping all over the place, Kale still somehow notices that the rider has the insignia of a royal house emblazoned his helmet and riding gear and two large quivers hung over the dragon’s shoulders just in front of the knight’s knees. Pretty sure dragon maneuvers would send the contents flying out of those quivers.
Kale watched the other dragon’s aerobatics, stunned by her beauty.
Then why were you just gawping at the OTHER one about two seconds ago?
The red wings glistened as if covered with tiny rubies.
And just like that, I have a traumatic flashback to the infamous sparkling scene.
Her chest and stomach pulsated in blue and purple shimmers.
Ewwww! Someone get that dragon to a vet, because pulsating stomach and chest sounds pretty unhealthy.
Sunlight reflected off blue-green scales on her head, tail, and hind feet.
… wait, so this dragon has sparkly red wings… and everything else is blue-green? That seems a little… unlikely. I mean, I’m sure you could breed for a really gaudy weird mix of colors, but…. why would you? And in the wild, it would be really crappy camouflage.
A small furry rider wore bright colors, almost as flamboyant as his mount.
How is this good for a warrior? I mean, do you really want to alert your enemies about five miles in advance that you’re coming their way?
And… I just can’t resist: I never thought I’d see flamboyant furries in a Christian kids’ book!
Shouting terse words Kale could not understand, the man cast yard-long lances among the grawligs.
“Rhubarb! Peanut butter! By the honor of Grayskull!”
But then somebody speaks into Kale’s thoughts, and she identifies them as a mindspeaker. Well, I guess it works. For some reason even though these three people are kicking the grawligs’ asses, they want her to run away instead of…. staying in the nice safe cave for a little longer.
And for some reason, Kale responds to this command by dropping her Plot Convenient Glowy Rock into her ENORMOUS SHIRT which is already full of dragon eggs. She’s already out in the open, so why bother even bringing the glowy rock? So she runs away, but is immediately distracted by a rider falling off his dragon into the Grawligs. Wow. Worst rescue ever.
A battle cry rent the air. Kale turned to see the rider of the smaller dragon slide off his saddle into a knot of grawligs. He fell!
Thanks, we noticed that.
So Kale pauses and imagines the guy being ripped to shreds by the beasts (even though the grawligs seem more like the movie Urgals than “beasts”), and comes to the conclusion that he’s being killed even though he and his buddies were singlehandedly kicking the grawligs’ smelly asses just a few minutes ago. So she decides to throw rocks at the grawligs… which is completely ineffectual.
It bounced off a grawlig head. He grunted and swayed, but returned to his efforts to pummel the enemy in their midst without even looking up to see what had hit him. Kale threw one rock after another as fast as she could pick them up and as hard as her muscles would allow.
Wow. Our heroine is really… lame, isn’t she? Not only is throwing rocks the best offense she can manage, but it’s so pathetic that they don’t even bother to check what hit them. Even worse, she keeps doing it! And continues being ineffectual!
In fact, this is so pathetic that the mindspeaker even asks her: “What are you doing?”
“Uhhhhhh…. throwing rocks? Trying to fight despite my total lack of ability? Failing miserably?”
“What are you doing? Get out of there. Dar knows how to fight. He doesn’t need you. Go! Quickly! Before they turn on you.”
Nah, don’t worry about it. If they don’t notice her throwing pebbles at them, why would they notice HER?
And while it’s refreshing to have a heroine who actually doesn’t CONSTANTLY act like Bella Swan or Anita Blake (ie selfish bitch sociopaths), and I will give Paul credit for that… I have to question Kale’s intellect here. I mean, these guys are obviously trained warriors who are able to kick ridiculous amounts of ass… and she thinks she can make a different by throwing little rocks at the grawligs?
So when the mindspeaker yells at her to go, she finally ends up turning tail and running away.
I don’t like this. Not one bit. In River Away everyone always yelled at me, “Go! Come! Do this! Do that!” But at least I knew who was ordering me about.
Uh… does it really matter? I mean, common sense would ALSO tell you that you should run for the hills, AWAY from the evil ogres that have been messing with you for three chapters. Who cares if a mystery voice who apparently has your best interests at heart tells you to?
So she climbs over the ridge and wanders down along with a stream, and everything gets very Ferngullyish as she meanders along.
The breeze whispered through the trees, cooling her as she trudged along. The sun sparkled off the brook as it foamed over its rounded-rock bed. Birds sang in the forest as if nothing so ugly as raiding grawligs existed in the whole of Amara.
- Okay, so this land is called Amara.
- Or maybe this world.
- Aw, dammit. I still don’t know anything.
- Speaking from experience, brooks don’t tend to foam unless you pour dish soap in them.
- Uh…. I know the scenery is very pretty and everything, but… is this really the best time to be daintily wandering along at a slow pace? The grawligs aren’t THAT far away, and if by some chance they DID defeat the others, then they would be able to find her very quickly!
She marched along, muttering about grawligs and voiceless orders and not knowing where she was going.
… and going VERY, VERY, VERY, VERY slowly! You’re walking away from a BATTLE, so show some energy!
And then… she suddenly starts falling asleep standing up. Yeah, apparently the fact that she DID sleep not too long ago has been forgotten, and it can’t have been much more than an hour or two. Plus, YOU JUST LEFT A BATTLE! Did she just put her adrenaline on standby?! And even though she’s falling asleep, Kale still manages to ask about a THOUSAND questions about her current situation…. which shouldn’t be happening because someone racing away from a battle should be… TERRIFIED.
She said they came to rescue me. Who are they? How did they know I was in trouble? How did they know where I was? Could Farmer Brigg somehow have known? No. How could he?
Seriously, WHY AREN’T YOU SCARED? I can understand how she would be thinking this if she were HIDING, but she’s supposed to be running away, isn’t she? All the blood in her brain should be in her legs so she can race away. When you’re running away in terror, you don’t tend to analyze your situation except trying to figure out where the damn exit is!
I’m so tired. And I’m getting hungry. How long before they catch up to me? What if they lost that fight with the grawligs, and the grawligs catch up with me instead? What if…I’m so tired. My whole body hurts.
Again: adrenaline! Where is it? It’s a magical hormone that can basically zap away a lot of your pain and keep you from falling asleep. Why does Kale not seem to have it? Does she even realize that she JUST WALKED AWAY FROM A BATTLE?
So since apparently a whole hour of activity has exhausted her, Kale decides to take a nap beside the stream. LAAAAAAME.
She pulled the pouch from beneath her shirt and soon fell fast asleep with it tucked under her cheek.
- It doesn’t seem like a good idea to use an egg as a pillow. Even if you don’t break it, you won’t get much rest because it’s an EGG.
- WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER EGGS?! You know, the seven others you had very loosely put into a fragile scarf and then tied around your torso? Are you just gonna roll around on them?
- Where did the glowy rock go?
And then of course she wakes up and finds a doneel sitting next to her, whistling and letting a string hang in the stream. What’s a doneel, you ask? You would ask that.
This whistling doneel sat, but she was sure if he stood, his little frame would not reach four feet. His tan and white furry head sat on a well-proportioned body. His large eyes hid under shaggy eyebrows that drooped down his temples and mingled with a long mustache. His broad nose stuck out like the muzzle of a dog, and his black lips met with hardly a chin at all underneath.
Yeah, I have no idea what this guy is supposed to be. A sort of… canine-human thingy with kung-fu master facial air? Whatever, I will give Paul credit for not just trotting out yet another fantasy cliche with no real deviation from the cliche.
“Hungry?” he asked. Smiling, his face became round, half of it the huge mouth.
…… AAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!
Two ears covered with soft fur perched on the top of his head near the front. They twitched and turned as he listened.
Okay, I retract a little of the credit, because this guy is a petting zoo person.
We’re then told out of the blue about “kimens,” instead of saving the description for when a kimen actually shows up.
Kimens were smaller than doneels, but their bodies were much more delicate, almost wispy looking.
So are kimens… cat people?
They wore forest colors in loose, draping material.
Hippie cat people.
And a kimen’s face had what Kale thought was a more normal set of eyes, ears, nose, and mouth—although she had to admit she thought their raggedy haircuts and lack of eyebrows made them look perpetually surprised.
Grima Wormtongue hippie cat people.
“You are very hungry,” said the doneel. His voice rumbled a bit over the words.
Oh wonderful, now Edward Cullen has been transformed into an anthropomorphic dog-man.
So he gives her a fish, its scales silver on the belly, its back coal black, its fins the colors of a sunset. We’re never going to see this fish again, yet we’ve been told more about its appearance than about our heroine’s. He tells her that she use magic to heal herself, and SOMEHOW this is a surprising revelation to Kale. Did she think that injuries just spontaneously healed themselves in mere seconds?!
The doneel cast her a skeptical glance. “You did.”
Kale put her hand on the pouch. How much did this odd little man know about the dragon egg?
A better question would be: has he noticed that she’s lugging around EIGHT OF THEM?
What if this doneel meant to steal the egg?
Then he logically would have done it while she was asleep.
Did he also know about her new find? Surely, eight dragon eggs would be very valuable. How did he even know about the first? She hadn’t told a soul since leaving River Away.
If he knows about one dragon egg, then he probably knows about the eight others you’re smuggling in that ridiculously large shirt of yours. And what do you wanna bet that the answer to the “how” question will be: MAAAAAAGIC!!!!!!!!!
So the doneel introduces himself as Dar (ie the guy who DIDN’T get his ass kicked by the grawligs), and in response, Kale… stands up.
Kale stood as she had been taught. “I’m Kale.”
… is just standing up a sign of courtesy in this fantasy world? It sounds like a bow or curtsey, but it’s… standing up.
So then the doneel takes a bunch of flattened rolls (why make rolls if you’re just going to flatten them?) from his pack. Which raises the question: why is he fishing if he had food already? Did Paul just forget about the fish that he caught a minute ago?
“Eat. The magic makes you think you aren’t hungry, but your body needs nourishment, especially when it has been busy repairing bruises and scrapes.”
PRO: I like it when magic is given limitations and rules to follow, such as “healing requires energy even with magic.”
CON: Why would the magic make you think you aren’t hungry? Is magic the world’s greatest diet aid or something?
Kale took the offering and sat again, this time beneath a borling tree.
Is there a single person in the world who didn’t initially read that as “boring tree”?
So while she eats her flattened rolls… and not the fish… Dar makes a fire. I don’t know why he makes a fire, since it seems to be nice and warm outside and it’s still daytime, but apparently in fantasy stories you have to make fires! Make fires! Make them now! When you stop moving in a fantasy story, you have to eat, sleep, or make a fire! MAKE A FIRE, DAMMIT! MAKE DOZENS OF THEM! LET THE WORLD BUUUURRRRRNNN.
Kale had never been much of a talker. Slaves weren’t encouraged to enter into conversations.
When somebody waits for you to wake up, builds you a fire and serves you food, I think you can safely assume that they aren’t treating you like a slave.
So eventually she gets curious enough to ask where he came from, and he reveals that he’s from The Hall Of Plot Convenience, and he came here to help her because his dragon Merlander knew she was in trouble. MAAAAAAGIC!!!!!!!!! So they have a talk about dragons and how the rider and dragon think of each other and OH NO, the dragons are telepathic and have a speshul psychic bond with their riders AND with other dragons.
“She knows my thoughts and I know hers. She told me a new dragon was coming from the east, over the Morchain Mountains. As you carried the egg closer, Merlander knew when you were tired or excited or frightened. The dragon embryo in your egg already reflects your disposition. My dragon knew what your dragon felt. When you were terrorized by the grawligs, we knew. But we couldn’t come to you when you were unconscious. We had no beacon. Then you were awake and hurting. We knew. But after a short while, you went to sleep.”
“You knew all that?”
How do dragons read each other’s minds? How do they read the minds of their riders? How do they read the minds of OTHER dragons’ riders through the other dragons’ minds? How come apparently Kale can’t read the embryonic dragon’s mind? How come she can’t read other people’s minds through the baby dragon’s?! There are just SO many holes in this deus-ex-machina-in-the-making! ARGH!
So finally Dar remembers that he has a fish, so he roasts it over the fire.
Kale puzzled over all the information Dar had given her. Councilman Meiger was right. She didn’t know anything.
… this seems like a VERY mild reaction.
“So,” she asked the doneel as he slowly turned the cooking fish, “will you take me to The Hall now?”
“No,” said Dar. “I was sent to keep you from going to The Hall.”
DRAMA! What a twist. Betcha it comes to nothing in the next chapter.