Before we begin today’s informative analysis, I’d like to point out that I was going through reviews of the latest not-really-a-sword-of-truth-book-but-still-a-sword-of-truth-book that Goodkind put out, which is apparently so bad even a lot of his due-hard fans didn’t like it. While doing this you know what I discovered? Zedd is still fucking in it. I honestly expected him to die fifteen chapter ago. Oh also I read some spoiler about him but since I’m never going to read any of the books past this one it doesn’t matter.
Anyway, Richard and Kahlan trot off the mud people’s (I really hope that isn’t what they call themselves) village.
the village was a collection of buildings constructed of a kind of mud brick, surfaced with a tan clay plaster and topped with grass roofs that leaked as they became dry, and had to be replaced constantly to keep the rain at bay. There were wood doors, but no glass in the windows of the thick walls, only cloth hanging in some to keep out the weather.
Given this is a world where even hermits living in the middle of the woods have comfortable cabins with glass windows, there must be an extremely compelling reason for them to want to live like this. People will pretty generally take comfort if they can get it, unless they have some religious or cultural reason not to.
Adolescent girls with short cropped hair smoothed down by sticky mud sat by the
Also, apparently the mud isn’t for camouflage or anything. They just smear themselves with it, like, all the time, even when they’re just sitting around at home.
The girls are all awed by Kahlan because she’s “a woman whom men feared and respected” (presumably all of these men have yet to be introduced) and a crowd of children come running out of somewhere to gape at her and Richard.
The men tolerated them with good-natured smiles; little children were never scolded. When they were older, they would be put into strict training where they would be taught the disciplines of the Mud People-of hunting, food gathering, and the ways of spirits-but for now they were allowed to be children, with almost free rein to play.
My mind is kind of blown by the idea that Goodkind- a man who wrote a book featuring “evil pacifists”- is portraying people who aren’t cold, steely-eyed justice-robots in a positive light. I was sort of waiting for “the men tolerated them with good-natured smiles, knowing that if the harvests failed the plumpest among them would be murdered and fed to the villagers without a moment’s hesitation, with much grim thrusting of jaws.”
Then again he even had Rahl paying lip service to the idea that people should be nice to kids so maybe that’s the one area in which he thinks like a decent human being. Unless the mud people turn out to be evil, in which case never mind.
the children continued to dance about, this being the most exciting thing that had happened in their young lives
Seriously? What the fuck is so impressive about Richard and Kahlan?
The hunter guys bring them to some “elders” who are waiting to meet the strangers even though they logically shouldn’t have known that oh never mind
The children stayed back from the pole building, sitting in the mud to watch as the hunting party brought the outsiders to the elders.
Seriously, what is with all the mud. Is it magical healing mud? Because if it’s not magical healing mud this seems extremely unsanitary.
They all do the face hitting thing again, except apparently inside the village it’s just a token gesture so everyone doesn’t go around knocking each other’s teeth out all the time. Still really dumb though. All of the elders then bow to Richard, recognizing him as the book’s protagonist.
Women in the Midlands tended not to like Confessors. They saw them as a menace who could take their men, and a threat to their lifestyle; women were not supposed to be independent.
Oh good we’re getting into Gender Issues, I bet this won’t be a fucking disaster at some point (according to the reviews I mentioned above Kahlan gets kidnapped by villains more or less constantly throughout the series).
“Richard!” she warned in a harsh whisper. “Don’t put food in your mouth with your left hand.”
He froze. “Why?”
“Because they believe that evil spirits eat with their left hand.”
This is apparently (and by “apparently” I mean I read it in travel books written by douchey white guys) an actual thing in many parts of the world, except it’s based on the idea that the left hand is used for unsavory bodily cleansing, if you know what I mean. Which is an actual fairly sensible idea, as opposed to “evil spirits”.
“That’s foolish,” he said, an intolerant tone in his voice.
God fucking damn. Remember at the start when Richard was just a bland nobody instead of a raging asshole?
And okay, yes, if you travel to other cultures you might encounter beliefs or ideas you think are foolish. The proper course of action here is to keep that fact to yourself, because no one else gives a flying shit.
The mud people were apparently expecting Richard somehow (CHHHHHHHHHHHOOOOOOOSEEEEEENN OOOOOONNNNNEEEE) and are super happy to see him.
Kahlan looked around at their happy, smiling faces. She didn’t know what to make of this development, and so took a bite of the flat-tasting tava bread with roasted peppers to gain time to think it over.
At least they’re eating something other than spice soup.
(By the way, if you were curious what exactly spice is, look no further than Goodkind’s blog. It actually sounds pretty nice)
The mud people believe that Richard is a “spirit man” who brought rain to end a drought, and if they play along with the idea than Richard will be able to get them to do anything.
“No,” he said quietly while holding her gaze.
“Richard, we have an important task to attend to. If they think you are a spirit, and that will help us get the last box, what does it matter?”
“It matters because it’s a lie. I won’t do it.”
Just last chapter you were apparently fine with the idea of threatening them into helping you, so I don’t know why you’re getting squeamish now.
Shortly after this Richard does offer a fairly sensible reason not to go with Operation Spirit Man, namely that the mud people might be pissed if they find out about the deception. He explains that he is not in fact a spirit man and that Darken Rahl sent the clouds that ended the drought to follow Richard (I don’t recall it ever being mentioned that it was constantly rainy or overcast, just that there was one specific evil-looking cloud hovering overhead). He explains that Rahl is bad news and asks the mud people to call a council in order to approve telling them where the last box is. They’s not pleased with this suggestion, stating bluntly that they don’t call a council of seers for outsiders.
Kahlan could tell that Richard was getting angry and straining to control himself.
Jesus Richard we can’t take you anywhere.
Richard asks them to take some time to consider by seeing what kind of man Richard is, and then Kahlan’s spider sense starts to tingle or something.
As Kahlan translated, she was suddenly suffused with the cold feeling that Richard was not talking to the elders. He was speaking to someone else. She suddenly felt the eyes of that other on her. Her own gaze swept the crowd. All eyes were on the two of them; she didn’t know whose gaze she still felt.
Well, at least the book isn’t being confusing or anything.
The mud people elders accept Richard’s proposal and then Richard draws Kahlan’s attention to a grey haired man standing behind the crowd.
Kahlan took a bite of the bread and pepper, chewing as she glanced over his shoulder.
“He is the Bird Man. I don’t know anything about him, except that he can call birds to himself.”
Richard looked up at her from under his eyebrows. “Because he’s the one who is in charge around here.”
You’ve never even been here before, how do you know that?
“The elders are in charge.” Richard smiled with one side of his mouth. “My brother
always says that real power is not brokered in public.” He watched her intently with his gray eyes. “The elders are for show. They are respected, and so are put on display for others to see. Like the skulls on the poles, only they still have the skin on them. They have authority because they are esteemed, but they are not in charge.” With a quick flick of his eyes, Richard indicated the Bird Man leaning against the wall behind him. “He is.”
WHAT IS GOING ON HOW DOES RICHARD KNOW ALL OF THIS
Surely if one of them is going to come to this sudden understanding about the Mud People’s political structure it should be Kahlan- the person who has actually been here several times before- and not Richard, the guy who didn’t even know they existed less than twenty-four hours ago. But I guess that would involve Kahlan actually doing something, and we can’t be having that.
As he hoisted her up, she thought about how much she liked the way he always offered her his hand. He was the first person who had ever done that.
What, literally the first person? Even her parents never did that when she was a kid? Maybe Confessors have some sort of ultra-ascetic lifestyle.
They go and talk to the Bird Man, who is all soft spoken and mysterious and shit.
Kahlan translated. Richard laughed. She liked his easy laugh.
Okay kids, it’s time for tell and don’t show! Look what Terry’s brought for the class today- it’s a hackneyed romance sub-plot!
I don’t think you’re catching their attention Terry, they’re too busy looking at their mysteriously logo-free Apple products.
Okay this is another marathon length chapter so let’s kick this into high gear.
The Bird Man is awesome, Richard is a dick.
His face took on a dangerous expression. He leaned forward. “If, on the other hand, you choose to help Darken Rahl, and I defeat him, I will come back, and . . .” He pulled his finger across his throat in a quick gesture that needed no translation.
Just think of all of those adorable kids, watching as you slaughter their parents! You sure are so noble and heroic, Richard. Die in a fire.
The only way for the Bird Man to call a council is if he makes Richard an honourary Mud Person-
you know what, someone in the comments told me that phrase is actually a really racist slur and I’m getting uncomfortable using it, so I think we need some sort of nickname. Suggestions in the comments.
Anyway, Richard needs to go do a quest before he can become a you-know-what. Richard offers to make them non-leaking roofs, because somehow no one else in this place ever came up with a solution to that.
So looks like next chapter’s going to be some pulse-pounding roof-making action OH NO WAIT IT’S RAHL AGAIN never mind.