This chapter proves that Strawchick has no redeeming qualities. At all. She deserves every minute of what has happened to her and at this point I'd like to set her on fire.
Strawchick and Ute are out picking berries. Tied together via leather straps and collars, because they might run. Also, having two chapters worth of words dedicated to describing a slave girl tunic is apparently not enough, because we get another description of it. We really need to know what this looks like. Got it?
Also? Strawchick is stealing Ute's berries. Also? In flashback, we find out that Verna the Panther Girl was captured and that Strawchick made the other women beat her, and then told her this straight to her face. And now we're picking berries. I just skimmed about five pages worth of material. You're welcome.
The caravan is attacked by tarns. Because they're so far away, Ute decides that she and Strawchick finally have their chance to run away from the caravan. And Strawchick? Who has spent the whole book wanting her freedom? Who survived a night buck naked in murder forest a couple chapters back? She doesn't want to run. Ute says the following:
“You will come with me or I will kill you!” screamed Ute.In retrospect, Ute is an interesting character. She was captured during a pilgrimage, enslaved, sold to a man she fell in love with, who sold her, who she still loves anyway, and has been, save for the nose ring incident, the one uniformly nice character in this book. Why is she not our main character?
Having been threatened, Strawchick runs after her, hysterical, and she lets us know what happens to the girls the tarns catch. Do you really need to guess?
If he is a young tarnsman, and she is his first girl, he will take her back to his own city, and display her for his family and friends, and she will dance for him, and serve him, at the Collaring Feast. If he is a brutal tarnsman, he may take her rudely, should he wish, above the clouds, above her own city, before even his tarn has left its walls. If he should be even more brutal, but more subtly so, more to be feared by a woman, he will, in the long flight back to his city, caress her into submission, until she has no choice but to yield herself to him, wholly, as a surrendered slave girl.If there is any justice in this cosmos, when John Norman dies he's going to be locked into a mobius strip chalk board with an endless supply of chalk, and forced to write "I will not rape women" while a rape victim follows behind him with an eraser.
So Ute and Strawchick escape and spend a blissful few days as free women. Wait, scratch that. Strawchick enjoys being free while Ute spends her time trying to keep Strawchick alive. Strawchick is utterly useless when it comes to surviving in the wilderness. She also doesn't get that having fires when you're being hunted by professional hunters is a bad idea, and she insists that Ute keep the fires lit.
So naturally, this happens:
“Look!” whispered Ute. Through the brush, some two hundred yards away, moving in the darkness, we saw two torches. “Men,” moaned Ute. “Men!”They escape this time, but a couple days later, Strawchick is off by herself when she finds out their hunters are right on their heels. Now, please remember that Ute is the only reason this girl is still free. She's the only person who has been anything remotely like nice to Strawchick. She's been keeping Strawchick fed.
“Oh, Ute,” I said. “I set the snare far down the game trail. And as I was going away, I heard it spring and heard an animal...Please get it, Ute,” I begged. “I do not want to touch it. It is so ugly!”
“All right,” said Ute. “I will get it.” She returned to her work.
I cast a frightened glance backward, down the trail. “Hadn’t you better hurry?” I asked.Yes. Strawchick just set up the closest thing she's had to a friend, the girl who is keeping her alive and free on Gor, up to be captured by men who she just heard loudly plan to rape the girl they're hunting. Because she's got a better chance of escaping if the men chasing them THINK they've got them all. Oh, and you know how I said yesterday that Strawchick is dumber than a bag of rocks?
the other crossing her ankles and lashing them together. I was pleased. Ute had been taken. I only feared that she might tell them that I was about. But somehow I knew that she would not. Ute was stupid. I knew she would not betray me. I thus, cleverly, eluded my pursuers.I may have over-estimated her intelligance, here.
There really is nothing I can say about these chapters. The point of them is that Norman doesn't want Strawchick to go to Ar. She needs to be captured by a tarn rider. And she needs to do it while demonstraiting that Women Are Evil. The problem here? In comparison, Ute, the girl who planned on running, comes off as a fucking saint. All I want to do is drop the book in acid, and I can't because it's an e-book on my computer and that would be bad.
She steals from a village and gets captured by a tarnsman who is OH NOES! the mystery slaver from back in the pens of Koroba and OH NOES AGAIN! is also Rask of why should I even give a fuck? and he fights for her and insults her and tells her that he never pays for his women, but as soon as he saw her he had to have her, and I am just so not interested.
This woman is stupid, she's manipulative, she's cruel, she's stuck way the hell up, and she deserves every bit of this, and the really sickening thing is the guy who wrote her? Thinks that I and every woman on the face of the planet is exactly the same way, while simultaneously writing characters who are closer to reality. Ute would have made a perfect main character for this story. She's likable, her story is much more sympathetic, I can see her character arc going places, and I am so sick of this terrible bitch I could scream.
End of chapter. Tomorrow: John Norman actually uses the word "rape" in the text.