Sunday, September 29, 2013

Redemption of Althalus--chapter 34-38

So most of the next chapter is basically moping shit up. Albron and Astarell get married. Bheid has a mental breakdown because he killed a man and this is apparently a bad thing (his hiring of assassins notwithstanding). The Arums decide to invade Kanthon and make Andine the queen of that region too and...uh...Andine gives a speech:

“With all of Arum at my back, I could ride roughshod over Kanthon and impose my will upon her citizens, but what would that accomplish—except to arouse eternal enmity? I watched with astonishment this day when the most warlike people on earth bowed to reason and averted a return to the clan wars of antiquity. I am but a foolish girl, but the lesson you have presented this day has impressed itself upon me indelibly. Therefore, I go to Kanthon not as a conqueror, but as a liberator. We will not burn Kanthon, nor will we slaughter the citizens, nor loot the city. Sweet reason shall be our guide—even as it was your guide in your discussions this day. I will follow your example, my brave warriors—braver still in that you chose not to fight this day.”
One: humility is good. Humility in a leader is better. THIS IS NOT HUMILITY. This is self-abasement to appease someone who doesn't approve of the role you've taken. I fuck up a lot, kids. I just learned not to talk about it on the blog. I will absolutely be the first person to say "I am sorry I should not have done that". I've just also learned that "I'm sorry I should not have done that" is not something you do in public because it doesn't actually mean anything to the people hearing it. And like I said, having the leader of a fucking country talk about how stupid and small and slight they are IS NOT A HEALTHY THING FOR A LEADER TO DO. Healthy is to shut the fuck up about their capabilities and just do what needs to be fucking done. Don't say "I'm a good leader". Don't say "I'm a bad leader". Just do it and let the people around you come to their own conclusions. They're gonna do it anyway.

Second: And that's, like, the dialogue for every hateful dictator ever. I'm pretty sure Hitler said, multiple times, that he was saving Europe.

Leitha is also having a nervious breakdown, mostly because she knows she's got to do something awful and she can't draw streingth from Bheid anymore. And it's that latter part, not the former part. She's known she's had to do something since she read the Knife, but she's been using Bheid as her life support and now that he's fractured, she's shattering.

Andine takes over Kanthon. Althalus helps everybody buy food because they burned most of their crops during the invasion, because wars are actually a pretty shitty thing to have happen.

Something religious in nature starts happening over in Peraquaine. Ghend is behind it, but everybody is more preoccupied with buying grain and getting various secondary characters married off.

Also: David Eddings is about to try on Social Justice, just to see if it fits. It's kind of precious.

“There’s a certain amount of unrest among the peasantry, I’m told, but that crops up every ten years or so. It’s the fault of the property owners, when you get right down to it. Perquaines tend to be egomaniacs who spend millions building palaces. The peasants live in hovels, and the differences between ‘your palace’ and ‘my hovel’ are very obvious. The notion of ‘comfortable but not showy’ hasn’t occurred to the Perquaines yet. The property owners show off, and the peasants resent it. There’s nothing new about that.”
And just in case you think that maybe I'm blowing it out of proportion, the words "social justice" appear in the text just a few pages later. It turns out Argan, Ghend's pet priest, has introduced Red Robes to the White, Black and Brown combo Dweios uses. Bheid is a black robe, if you remember, the white robes, lead by White Guy, were in charge of the Shephards, and the Brown Robes are in charge of Peraquaine...and they ain't exactly St. Francis.

Hey, let's take a break to let Khalor marry Eliar's mother. I mean, we've had all these unattached strapping men running around being heroic. We need to get them settled down with a door prize or three.

Leitha finally has an emotional breakdown in Althalus's arms, and Al decides the best way to react to that is to go beat sense into Bheid so that he'll get off his ass and go take care of his woman.

Dead serious.

 This is all beside the point, though. If you don’t open the door to your mind to Leitha, I’ll do exactly the same thing to that door as I did to the one to this room. Your silly wallowing in guilt and self-pity’s destroying Leitha, you blithering idiot. I don’t care how many people you kill, Bheid, but if you hurt Leitha anymore, I’ll reach down your throat and jerk out your heart!”
This puts Bheid back together long enough to preform a wedding, and then he goes back into hibernation. Althalus gives up and tells Albron to keep Leitha and Andine in his house for a little while so that Al, Bheid and the other men can go take care of business.

Our heroes.

Bheid and Dweia start explaining the politics in Periquaine to Althalus and Khalor. And it's bad. We've got forced labor and starvation:

“There are agitators out there, Alkos,” the noble said. “We’re going to keep our peasants so busy that they don’t have time to listen to speeches.” “Ah,” the overseer said. “I guess that makes sense. You’re going to have to feed them a little more, though. I’ve had a dozen of them collapse today.” “Nonsense.” The nobleman snorted. “They’re playacting. That’s what your whip’s for, Alkos. Keep them moving until dark. Then let them go eat. Tell them to come back at first light tomorrow.”

“Why don’t I just tell him that you’ll evict him from that stick-and-wattle hut of his unless he hands his daughter over to you? It’s winter now, and his whole family will starve—or freeze to death—without shelter or food. I think he’ll come around.”
And basic theft of property:

“Can we actually get away with that, Brother Sawel?” the Baron asked dubiously. The priest shrugged. “Who’s going to stop us, my Lord?” he asked. “The aristocracy controls the land, and the Church controls the courts. Between us, we can do just about anything we want to do.”
Dweia shows them examples of all this through one of her magic windows, and that's all it takes to make the gang gung-ho for killing every noble in Peraquaine. Dweia talks them into simply finding a non-murdery solution to the problem.

Which, of course, starts with Althalus conning the entire Brown Robe clergy.

He's posing as a duke with a great deal of money who is having terrible nightmares. He wants the Brown Robes to clean up his dreams--which he swears are about Hell AKA Daeva's version of the House at the End of the World. This gives the leader of the Brown Robes--now known as Brown Guy--a problem. Althalus offers them a lot of money to clean up his dream-life, but he'll only pay after his dreams are nightmare-free. Which the Brown Guy can't do. And he knows it.

And then Dweia drives the brown guy totally insane.

Our heroes.

End of chapter.

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