The first is to dress Andine and Leitha up as men and take them along for the fun (FINALLY). Andine, naturally, has to point out the so-called flaw in this plan:
“Gher,” Andine said gently. “Girl people don’t look exactly like boy people. We have slightly different shapes.” She drew in a deep breath to make her point. “You see what I mean?” she suggested, making a vague gesture at the front of her dress.
Yeah, because it is impossible to make a woman look like a man.
Their second response is to make the not-Tardis even MORE of a Deus ex.
Specifically by making a window that can see and hear everything in the known cosmos, including a thousand years ago, and by making yet another door that can basically do the same thing. So yes. We spent chapters talking about all the doors in all the hallways, and now we're just going to be using this specific door for everything.
Oh, but it's special:
Make it an arch, Althalus, and give it brass hinges and an ornate handle so that Eliar knows that it’s no ordinary door. Use ‘peri.’ It’s a bit more formal, and we’ll use the word ‘portal’ when we speak of it, instead of the word ‘door.’ It’s important for Eliar to think of it differently. Make the door, Althalus.”Yeah. The portal thing lasts for exactly one paragraph. I guess even Eddings knew it was stupid.
Eliar and Sargent Kahlor think it's the best thing since sliced bread, and in reality I think Kahlor should be the protagonist for this story. He's the dude that does all the work after all, and his HEA is actually legit.
Anyhoo, Gher decides that the very best thing you can do with the Door to Everywhere is to have it go to "Nowhere and Nowhen"
He almost ends the fucking world. No big.
(Seriously. He almost ends the fucking world)
We DO, however, get one legitimately funny line:
“I wish I had a donkey,” Eliar said, grunting under the weight of the keg he was carrying along the streets of the cow town of Kherdon in north-western Plakand.
“We’ve got one,” Khalor told him with a grin. “His name’s Eliar.”Why is this not Khalor's story?
They use the money hole to hire cavalry. The negotiations take place in a bar. Aren't we surprised.
They also introduce the girls into the equation by having them be Cheif Albron's unwanted human baggage. Because that's totally the way to do it. Andine and Gher are his unwanted pages, and Leitha is his unwanted (male) soothseer. They introduce them to Priest White Guy who has no problem with a soothsayer of indeterminate religion being in the same room, even though a few months ago the preists of this religion were trying to burn Leitha at the stake.
And of course, the way to discuss their planning for the male disguises is to talk about Leitha's ass.
I am not kidding. Not even remotely.
“I’m sure you’d have been very convincing,” Andine said, “right up until you started to walk.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You swish, dear.”
“Swish. All sorts of things move when you walk. Have you ever noticed that, Brother Bheid?” she asked. Bheid’s face turned slightly red. “I thought I noticed you noticing,” Andine said. “You definitely get his attention when you walk past him, Leitha.”
It is probably pathetic that the thought of Andine saying "Dear" the way Dweia and Leitha do bugs me more than "Hey, let's show off your costume by discussing how it shows off your ass."
But it does.
However, they wander out to the war zone and start talking about all the fun things they're putting together, and have I mentioned I love military fiction yet? Because, in case you can't guess, I totally do.
It lasts for one little section, and then they go back into the house to show us how they're deceiving the armies Althalus slipped into his back pocket when nobody was looking.
These are the good guys.
When they go back to the trenches, Albron has ripped off the Ghost and the Darkness and has the shephards tying bushes to everything.
“That’s no ordinary bush, Sergeant,” Albron told him. “The local Wektis call it ‘the shrub from Hell.’ It’s a bramble with three-inch thorns—almost like steel needles. They grow wild along the river. I accidentally brushed up against one of the blasted things a few hours ago, and as soon as I got the bleeding under control, I thought they might be an interesting addition to our barricade out front.”
“You didn’t try to order Gebhel to use them, did you?”
“I know better than that, Sergeant,” Albron said. “I just handed him a limb from one of the cursed things and said, ‘Isn’t this interesting?’ He got the point—six or eight points, actually—almost immediately.”
And this is why I love this book. I like the shenanigans with the not-Tardis, but I absolutely fawningly love the parts that are normal dudes doing what normal dudes do. And you know what? Althalus has lots of fancy shiny toys and he brings them out every chance he gets, but most of the time it's the normal guys who have no fucking clue what's really going on who save the day with perfectly normal stuff. I get this picture of Eddings going "Well, now we need to challenge the characters so we're going to introduce all this challening things and OH FUCK HOW DO YOU WRITE CHALLENGE nevermind I'll just have the Adorably Quirky Deity save the day at the last minute" and somehow managing to have the Normal People just plain not suck at this.
There is more discussion of tactics, and how they plan on handling the Ansu horses (Using the Shrub from Hell to funnel the horses into a killing hall filled with all kind of nasty shit) and who they're going to stick where, and how well and truely fucked the enemy will be.
And then we go back to the house and things start sucking again.
Ghend is doing shit in Othos, which is Andine's Kingdom, which is where Andine really ought to be even with her severe case of Brainwashed. Andine has found out about said shit and demands to be taken home so she can take care of her business.
Althalus refuses. Dweia is, of course, the ever gracious voice of reason.
You’d better do as she says, Althalus, Dweia’s voice murmured in his mind. Things probably aren’t quite as bad as she seems to believe, but you’d better pacify her...Take Andine home so that she can warn Lord Dhakan, but then bring her right back to Keiwon. I don’t want that girl running around loose out there.Yep. The ruling monarch's concerns for her kingdom in the process of being invaded by Satan must be heeded, not because, you know, SHE'S MOTHERFUCKING RIGHT, but because she has to be pacified.
End of chapter.