Saturday, September 7, 2013

Redemption of Althalus chapter 12

Alright, guys. Business first. Item one:

Yeah. It's out. It exists. It is here and here and here. Go get your copy if you don't have one already.

Next item: Working on the next Gray Prince Book has commenced. It should go rather well. Leythorne is always a pain to work with, the stubborn bastard. But I'm enthusiastic about where this story is heading, and I also cannot wait to get to all the other stories waiting of in the ether. After that, It's Starbleached: Liberty, in which Adry, Bob and Bryan will try do things--it will involve lots of blowing up of things, I assure you--and then were back to Casey and I have no idea when any of this will happen, but I am confident that it will.

Anyhoo, I'll be working on GP for the next couple days, and then jump back onto Dragon Breath and finish up the last third.

And while I am not outright begging here (It's 100% up to ya'll) reviews would not be amiss.

Now. Where were we?

Right. Althalus and Emmy are shattering Bheid's views on religion. Namely by pointing out that the astrological signs he worshipped once formed different parts of different astrological signs:

"...Half of the Wolf was the bottom of something the old sky watchers called the Turtle, and what astrologers call the Boar now was the top half.” 
“That’s blasphemy!” Bheid exclaimed.
 “I wouldn’t worry about it too much, Bheid. Those astrologers all died, so they won’t be able to accuse you.”
Bheid's entire crisis of faith is that he doesn't see the pictures in the sky that other people claim that they see, and this means he's a bad priest.

I think Althalus is managing to find the one crew of Children of Prophesy who are dumber than he is.

Oh, and they have to go back to Othos. Three guesses on who they have to pick up.

On the way their, however, Althalus has a dream. A highly archaic dream that tries really really hard to be lyrical.

And Ghend moved among them, whispering, whispering. And the people pulled back from Ghend with fear upon their faces. But Ghend paid no heed to their fear, and his eyes burned, burned.
When Althalus wakes up, he discovers that everyone had the same dream. At this point Emmy takes Althalus's body again--hey, what did you expect. She's a cat and a goddess and you can't even keep her from sleeping on your face--and explains that...hold on, this requires liquid courage. BRB.

Right. See, there are dreams in this universe, and then there are dreams. And some of these major Dreams can change the past. Only it doesn't really change the past, because if you killed your grandfather your grandfather is still dead, but because of the dream you might think that your neighbor killed him instead, so that when you wake up you go kill your neighbor. Or in this case, Ghend is trying to convince an entire race of people that they worshipped Daeva back before humans had gotten the hang of fire.

Also, the Screaming Thing came back to guest star as the dream's soundtrack. It was not missed.

We also get Althalus's recap of his life's story to Bheid. Which we don't need.

Althalus then asks Emmy who they're supposed to get. She tells him. He reacts predictably.

He blinked. You’re not serious! He almost said it out loud.
 Oh, yes. 
How are we supposed to get inside her palace? 
You’re the thief, Althalus, she replied. If you can steal things, I’m sure you’ll be able to steal one little girl.
Yep, because stealing a box of buttons is the same thing as kidnapping a head of state. But it's not like they're just going to walk right into the fucking castle and walk Andine back--

It was well past midnight when Althalus and Emmy slipped into Andine’s palace in the center of Osthos. This time, Emmy chose to walk rather than ride, and she moved on silent feet ahead of the thief, passing warnings back to him. Once they were inside the massive palace, she led him to the Arya’s private quarters.
Oh BULL SHIT Al. Bull fucking shit. You do NOT do that in the space of one paragraph. Oh, and hey Dave, there were several perfectly servicable paragraphs a couple pages back that you wasted recapping Althalus's backstory. You could have used them here to give us SOME drama. Maybe come in right before Al steps on a dry twig?

And yes. They walk in, they put Andine under a magic spell to make her sleep walk, and they walk right back out of the palace with her in tow. And they keep her knocked out so that she doesn't make any noise because Andine=Ce'Nedra and that means you'll want to kill her within three pages of her opening her mouth for the first time.

Not time for the consent rant yet. YET!

They ride for a couple days before they let Andine wake all the way up. Althalus has the knife in her field of vision so that the SECOND she's awake she has no choice but to read her Magic Word off the blade. Now, for the record, Althalus got "Seek", Eliar got "Lead" and Bheid got "Illuminate"

The Token Girl Character gets "Obey"

Andine looks around, realizes that she's been kidnapped out of her bedroom by three men, one unknown, one the dude that killed her father, and one the dude that identified himself as a slave trader one step above toe-jam on the evolutionary ladder, and she reacts very reasonably:

“You!” she said sharply. She dropped Emmy and sprang directly at the young Arum, both of her hands extended clawlike at his face. “Assassin!” she shrieked.
The screaming goes on for a while and then Althalus, who used the Knife's Magical Will Stealing Powers to do stupid pet tricks with all the other characters, tells Andine to shut up.

THIS is the time for the consent rant.

Can we point out that the only character who presented this quest as a choice is Ghend, AKA Satan's fucking henchman? He asked if Althalus would go steal the book, Althalus agreed. Emmy, who is our mother savior goddess figure, locked Althalus in a bedroom for two-and-a-half millinia until he agreed to do whatever she wanted. He has a magical knife that steals the wills of whoever uses it, and he just kidnapped a fifteen year old girl out of her bedroom.

The hero. Of this novel. Kidnapped. a fifteen year old girl. And then used the Magical Will Stealing Knife on her.

It's presented as being something hugely over the top so that you have to force people into doing what you want, but as we'll see in a few chapters eventually our team of protagonists clue in that asking nicely will sometimes get you what you want too, and that you can lie about the parts people can't swallow. So there's no reason for Althalus, our hero, to motherfucking kidnap a fucking fifteen year old girl and THEN force her to join a team.

Oh, and hey, you know that mind-link that Emmy formed with Althalus? That can't be undone. Ever. They are stuck together for life and Emmy does not inform Althalus of this while she's doing it. She just says "Count things" so that his mind is all nice and loose when she forces her way in.

I love Eddings. He's not an author I can call my ultimate all time favorite but I enjoy his books an awful lot. But he has issues with consent. See, setting up a "Let's go on a Quest" with consent takes a lot of effort. That's usually why the Wizard presents the quest and gets told "Get fucked", and a monster has to show up and attack the village to get the main character to go anywhere. So it does kind of save a lot of time to have the Gandalf character kidnap all the characters he wants to accompany him, but it also makes him kind of indistinguishable from the bad guy.

Eddings writes a really good, fun plot, but he's lazy as fuck. I don't mind reading the same story five or six times (given that I re-read anyway) but come on. I can think of at LEAST one good way we could have resolved this issue without having to kidnap a child. (Namely, Emmy goes in alone, befriends Andine, convinces her that listening to the talking cat is the best thing she can do right now, and walks out with a consenting Andine in tow. She reads the knife in the woods, Althalus tells her to shut up there, and they explain everything for about an hour before heading off to the next stop).

...all that said, I'm not against giving Andine an off switch. I just wish we could retroactively install one in Ce'Nedra. (They're the same fucking character. EXACTLY the same)

Anyway, while Althalus is trying to get Andine to understand--she's through the shock now, and is distracted by snuggling Emmy--Emmy informs AL that they're off to Hule this time. Althalus asks where, but Emmy doesn't answer because it's probably his favorite tavern anyway. Eliar asks if they can stop off in Arum on the way home so he can say hello to his mother. Althalus thinks this is a great idea.

On the way there, they bump into Koman, a mind-reader. Althalus keeps him out of his head by counting out of order. This is presented as a unique and thrilling concept. Emmy is very impressed. I'm not kidding.

The fractions were a stroke of absolute genius, pet. Emmy’s thought actually purred. 
I thought you might like them, Althalus said. 
Where in the world did you come up with the notion?
 He shrugged. I just made it up, he said. I thought that if whole numbers bother him, bits and pieces of numbers should drive him wild.
 Our heroes, boys and girls. Mesmerized by the concept of basic math.

Meanwhile, we have to point out that the well-educated Andine is just as stupid as the rest of the crew:

Then they left the lands of the Perquaines and rode up into the foothills of Arum. Bheid and Andine rode side by side along the way, and the auburn-haired priest spent days trying to explain just exactly why the snow on the mountaintops of Arum didn’t melt in the summer sun. Andine’s teachers had evidently been great believers in logic, so despite the evidence of those white-tipped mountains, she continued to argue that since the peaks were closer to the sun, it had to be warmer up there.

After three days of that, Bheid gave up.

Yeah, a running theme for the next chunk of book is "Andine is wrong". Andine is the girl who got kidnapped in her sleep by random men, but Andine is wrong. She's wrong in her assumptions about Eliar, she's wrong in her education, she's wrong in her attitudes about the poor, and it doesn't help that she has a personality that could double as a cheese grater: you actually like seeing her get put down.

This, FYI, is why I tend to be rather hard on female characters who have nasty personalities who then get squashed like bugs. They have a horrible personality specifically so that you'll like seeing them get squashed. Stuffed shirt, boys and girls. Andine has every right to be a nasty little snit right now, but Eddings is the one who elected to write her being nasty so that her education over the next several pages is justified. She becomes relatively nice once the Stockholm Syndrome sets in.

Anyway, the Team make camp and Eliar heads off to visit his mother. Andine is snitty about it. Bheid is willing to set in and set her straight:

“They’re very close, Andine,” Bheid told her. “I’ve talked often with Eliar since we met. His father was killed in a war several years ago, and Eliar became his mother’s only support. He was a little young to go off to war, even for an Arum, but his mother needed his soldier’s pay to keep eating. In a peculiar sort of way, Eliar went off to war as a way to show his love for his father—and his mother. Your father was unlucky enough to get in his way while he was showing his veneration for his parents. Isn’t that sort of what you were doing when you were planning to kill him before Althalus came along?...You might want to think about that just a bit before you launch yourself into your next tirade.”

So Eliar rejoins them a day later and they head off to Nabjor's encampment up in Hule. There is lots of Hule, but this place was important to Althalus so he figures this is where the Knife meant. And wouldn't you know it, he's right.

They're picking up yet another Theif. Well, since Althalus became the Irrascably Racist Misogynistic Drunk Wizard, they need a replacement for his old role. It's a little boy named Gher.

Yes. Gher.

He's the second biggest Deus Ex Machina in the book. You'll see why shortly.

Oh, and his Magic Word is "deceive".

End of chapter.


  1. And out of all this, I walked away from the consent rant with the image of Gandalf stuffing hobbits into a sack. So much more convenient than having to explain what's happening and then asking them to join him.

  2. I just realized - Andine/Eliar is the Obligatory Eddings Slap-Slap-Kiss Romance for this book, isn't it?

    The last place I saw that done well was in the Chronicles of Prydain.

    1. Yep.

      I hate that trope. I HATE it. Relationships should not be founded on a basis of "I hate you DON'T LEAVE ME". It might be kind of sort of okay when it's an arranged marrige--in that they're going to have to live together anyway so why not break down the barriers--but when your choices are literally EVERY OTHER PERSON ON EARTH why would you go with somebody you hate? Especially when that person MURDERED YOUR FATHER IN FRONT OF YOU.

      There are two other major romances in this story, which is why I ignored it. But for the record I hated it in the Belgariad, and I was so very very glad that the Eleniad ignored it in favor of a May/December romance (Though for the record, Ehlana/Sparhawk was more January/Last January. It was founded on a basis of mutual respect and honor, but it'd be a little less creepy if that foundation hadn't been laid when the female half was eight fucking years old.)

  3. Hallo! Just wanted to pop in and say I love your new layout! Haven't been following along this spork too much but OMG YES I TOO HATE THE SLAP-SLAP KISS CRAP. SOOOO MUCH.