It’s off to the house of the elder Cypher brother to party down.
Michael’s HOUSE WAS a massive structure of white stone, set back quite a distance from the road. Slate roofs in a variety of angles and rakes came together in complicated junctures topped with a leaded-glass peak that let light into the central hall. The walkway to the house was shaded from the bright afternoon sun by towering white oaks as it passed through sweeping stretches of lawn before coming to formal gardens laid in symmetrical patterns to each side. The gardens were in full bloom. Since it was so late in the year, Richard knew the flowers had to have been raised in greenhouses just for the occasion.
The description of their father’s house made it sound like it was basically a fancy shack, and just from the general feel of what we’ve seen so far I had assumed the story was taking place in a fairly rustic frontier area, but Michael’s house sounds exceedingly refined. Is there a town or something nearby, or is it just sitting in the middle of the woods?
Richard decides, in that way that only people in novels ever do, not to press Kahlan for more information on the Earth-shattering revelation she just handed him about coming through the boundary, so instead they talk about his forest bachelor pad.
“Does your house have a fireplace?” she had asked.
“Do you use it?”
“Yes, I cook on it all the time,” he had told her. “Why?”
She had merely shrugged as she looked off to the countryside. “I just miss sitting in front of a fire, that’s all.”
Now I’m really starting to wonder what exactly Kahlan’s deal is.
“Invitation, sir?” someone called in a deep voice from the shade beside the entry.
Invitation? Richard spun around to see who had addressed him and was met by a mischievous grin. Richard broke into a grin of his own.
IT’S HAPPENING AGAIN NOOOOOOOOOO
The grinning dude is “Chase”, Richard’s mischievous comic relief friend who I’m already hoping is going to be killed off soon.
For some reason Chase is absolutely armed to the teeth with a sword, mace, multiple knives and a crossbow (this being one of those fantasy worlds where weapons don’t weigh anything unless it’s convenient for the plot that they do). I’m not even sure why one person would ever need to have that many weapons at hand unless they had six arms, but then I’m not a professional boundary warden so maybe he knows something I don’t.
Apparently he’s not there as a guest, hence all the weapons. I guess trouble must be afoot.
“Chase, this is my friend, Kahlan.” He gave her a smile. “This is Dell Brandstone. Everyone calls him Chase.
The amount of product placement in fantasy novels these days is just appalling.
Michael called in the boundary wardens to be his bodyguards because strange things have been going on lately.
All I’m saying is you haven’t been around. Strange things have been going on, Richard. People coming and going in the night. Michael calls them `concerned citizens.’ He’s been talking some nonsense about plots against the government.
Citizens and government. So we’re in some kind of non-monarchyy set-up? I’m down with that. After all we’re also learning about the Way of Kings so it’s nice to change things up a bit.
They get to talking about the murder of the elder Cypher, who was a friend of Chase’s since before Richard was born.
“I’ve twisted a few fingers.” He shifted his weight, taking another look around before bringing his fierce expression back to Richard. “Twisted hard. Hard enough to cause their owners to spit out their own mother’s name if it had been the right one. No one knows a thing, and believe me, if they did they would have been happy to have shortened our conversation.
I think there may be a slightly darker side to this fantasy world.
They also tell him about the fight with the four dudes in the woods, leaving out the part about them being from across the boundary.
“And if you think there’s a need, you two come stay at my place. You’ll be safe enough there.”
Richard thought about all of Chase’s children and knew he didn’t want to endanger them, but he didn’t want to argue the point either, so he just nodded.
Richard is showing worrying signs of passivity. We had enough of that with You Know Who.
The interior of Michael’s house is almost entirely marble, which is even more super fancy than I thought. This guy must have more money than God.
Even with all the people around, Richard felt overwhelmingly lonely. He was confused and didn’t know what to do about it. He didn’t know who to turn to. Kahlan was the only one who made him feel better, but at the same time she frightened him. The encounter on the cliff frightened him. He wanted to take her and leave.
Richard acting like a robot is going to be a continuing feature of this book, isn’t it?
And then there was the unsettling feeling he had that all of this had something to do
with his father’s death, and his father’s death had something to do with his own secrets, the secrets his father had placed upon him and him alone.
I really hate it when authors have their character think about information that they’re aware of but word it in such a way that it obscures it from the readers. No one would actually think “I have a feeling this might have something to do with my terrible secret that must never be known“, they’d think “I have a feeling this might have something to do with that thing with the lobster in Brighton five years ago”, because clearly it’s not a secret to the person remembering it.
He guided her over to a long table with food piled in tiers. There were large steaming platters of sausages and meats, boiled potatoes, dried fish of several kinds, grilled fish, chicken, turkey, mounds of raw vegetables sliced into strips, big tureens of cabbage and sausage soup, onion soup, and spice soup, platters of breads, cheeses, fruits, pies, and cakes, and casks of wine and ale. Servants were constantly coming and going to keep the platters full.
brb have to eat now
I sure wonder how they keep all that meat fresh in this ye olde fantasy world. Micheal must have had all of those animals close at hand.
Kahlan is amazed that some of the serving girls have long hair because where she comes from women’s hair length has socially prescribed based on standing and blah blah blah more awkward fantasy world building.
Her smile brightened into the same tight-lipped one she had given him before. The smile of sharing. It made him grin.
Urgh eating all of that food a few paragraphs ago wasn’t a good idea. The glurge is making me retch.
Richard fetches food for Kahlan for a while so they can experience more of the smiles of sharing or whatever, then she notices there are two men across the room watching him. For all that I’m making fun of this I do like that the pacing is fairly good, especially compared to the Rothfuss books. When things happen in your book people will enjoy reading it, fancy that.
Richard reassures her that they’s just Michael’s aides wondering why Richard arrived late looking so filthy.
She shook her head. “More will follow. I should not be with you. I do not want to endanger your life any more than I already have. You are my friend.”
BEEP BOOP WHAT IS THIS EMOTION YOU CALL FRIENDSHIP BEEP
“There is no way another quad could track you now, not once you have come here, to Hartland. It’s impossible.” He knew enough about tracking to feel confident that he was telling her the truth.
…. Why would it be impossible, exactly? They couldn’t have traveled that far from where the first group of assassins found her, couldn’t another quad just start surveying the nearby houses and towns?
Her voice came in a slow, harsh whisper. “When I left my homeland, five wizards cast spells over my tracks so none could know where I went, or follow, and then they killed themselves so they could not be made to talk!”
Yikes. I guess they don’t joke around in the Midlands. She must be on a pretty important mission, although of course Richard doesn’t bother asking what it is.
“If you hadn’t been there today, you don’t know what would have happened to me.
No way, the assassin’s strategy seemed to be to confront her in broad daylight, with plenty of time to prepare a defense, and she ended up doing most of the work of killing them with her magic. Richard barely did shit.
Kehlan is still terrified since the quad shouldn’t have been able to cross the boundary without magic (bet they aren’t from Midland at all OH SNAP) but Richard reassures her that they’ll go see his quirky mentor Zedd and everything will be fine.
She gave a nod. “Thank you, Richard Cypher. My friend.
BEEP BOOP FRIEND LIFEFORM DETECTED WHIRR
Just then Michael comes out on stage to give a speech.
As Michael stepped up onto a platform, Richard realized why it had taken him so long to come out. He had been waiting for the sunlight to fall on that spot, so he could stand in the light and be lit in its glory for all to see.
This guy’s totally going to be evil, isn’t he?
Not only was he shorter than Richard, but heavier and softer. Sunlight lit his mop of unruly hair.
Yep, totally evil.
So I guess we should bring this up because it’s undoubtedly going to become relevant at some point: as I’m sure most people are aware, Terry Goodkind is a big ol’ Objectivist and these books are (more so later on, apparently) a big ol’ Objectivist screed.
Lately I’ve been reading a Let’s Read of Atlas Shrugged by this atheist blogger (whose opinions I don’t all necessarily agree with) and maybe it’s just because I know Goodkind’s background but I’m already starting to see certain similarities, such as the tendency for good people to be rugged and square-jawed if they’re male or strikingly beautiful if female and for bad people (which I’m guessing Michael is) to be weak and soft and ugly.
Anyway Michael starts giving his speech.
Too long we have chased old ghosts and been blind to new callings! Too long we have listened to those who would seek to drag us into war and ignored those who would guide us on a path to peace!” .
The crowd went wild. Richard was dumbfounded. What was Michael talking about? What war? There was no one to have a war with!
I was about to ask why everyone was cheering if the things Michael is saying make no sense, but, well.
“Concerned citizens have come forward to identify these cowards, these traitors. At this very moment, as we join our hearts here today in a common goal, the boundary wardens protect us while the army is rounding up these conspirators who plot against the government. They are not the common criminals you might think, but respected men in high authority!”
Wait, wait. Hang on. According to Richard all of this is coming completely out of nowhere, and you can’t whip people up into a political frenzy in a vacuum. If a member of government in my country stepped in front of a camera tomorrow and started ranting about generic “traitors” no one would have any idea what the fuck he was talking about, nor would they likely care all that much. But frame the issue as Them Immigrants working to undermine whatever and you’d probably get some traction.
What I’m saying is there needs to be some pr-existing political substrate for Michael to draw on here, even just a society that’s been conditioned toward a paranoid mindset and the idea of internal or external threats, like a like of dictatorships historically have been. For this to hold water I would expect Richard to hear “traitors” and immediately identify them in his own mind, even if that identification was actually wrong, instead of thinking “wait, what?”
Michael states that the boundaries will vanish one day and they have to be prepared to make peace with the people on the other side. He dreams of uniting the Hartland (where they are) with the Midlands (the next one over, where Khelan came from) and D’Hara, which must be the furthest one.
We must look forward to a day when the boundary will no longer be there, for nothing lasts forever, does it? And when that day comes we must be ready to extend a hand of friendship and not a sword, as some would have us do. That only leads to the futility of war and needless dying.
This all sounds very innocuous, but keep in mind we’re reading the first book in a series which later features “evil pacifists” as the villains.
Richard saw men in tears, and women weeping openly.
Why are they reacting this way? The way Richard described it, it sounds like most people barely even think about the lands beyond to boundary except to warily regard them as scary and alien. Again, there would need to be some long-standing issue here that people feel extremely passionate about to generate this sort of reaction.
Why did he feel so uneasy?
Richard, being the protagonist, can sense that something is wrong. He must know all about Terry Goodkind as well.
After delivering this epic speech pleading for tolerance and friendship, Michael then moves on to the just as monumental issue of…… fire safety.
And now, to the other part,” Michael continued, “to the real suffering around us. While we have worried about the boundaries that have not harmed a single one of us, many of our families, friends, and neighborshave suffered, and died. Tragic and needless deaths, in accidents with fire. Yes, that is what I said. Fire.
His and Richard’s mother died in a fire, apparently.
Tears, glistening in the sunlight, ran down Michael’s cheeks.
Everyone was now solidly back with him. Their tears flowed freely. A woman put her arm around Richard’s shoulder as he stood numb. She whispered how sorry she was.
Seriously, no one would ever act like that.
So to summarize: a man got pissed with their dad and got into a fight with him, knocking over a lamp. Their mother rescued Michael and Richard, but then ran back into the house to try to save something (they don’t know what but it’s probably something mysterious) and burned to death.
After bringing all of this up Michael doesn’t actually suggest any way to stop fires happening, just says he’s forming a commission on it. I have no idea what the fuck the point of that scene was, except as a really clumsy way to let us know how their mother died.
Richard changed the subject. “What have you found out about Father’s murder? Have the trackers picked up anything?”
Michael took his arm back. “Grow up, Richard. George was an old fool. He was always picking up things that didn’t belong to him. He probably got caught with something that belonged to the wrong person. A person with a bad temper, and a big knife.”
Do you think Michael might turn out to actually be a villain? I think he might.
Michael insists that they’ll never ever know who killed their father and they better just stop thinking about it or talking about it right now omg why are you still going on about this he totally did it didn’t he? Richard of course completely buys this because he’s an idiot.
Then Michael starts molesting Kahlan.
Michael reached around her with both arms, cupped both hands to her bottom and pulled the lower half of her body hard against him. His leg pressed between her thighs.
Okay, we get it; the dude’s shady.
Refreshingly, Kahlan manages to thwart Michael by cutting him with one of her fingernails instead of needing to be rescued. Goodkind gets precisely one point for this, which I fully expect to be rescinded later on.
So that it, just one chapter this time because these things are really long. The writing is awful and all of the character act like idiots, but things are happening so that’s good I guess?