Let’s Read Wizard’s First Rule ch. 29

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Chapter 29

Whoooo boy.

I think it’s important to remember that, although all of these Let’s Reads have become me screaming at people for thousands of words, I don’t go into them with the express purpose of making fun of bad books. I am fully prepared to like everything I read, and in fact I once thought Wizard’s First Rule might be in that category. If you go back to the earlier chapters you’ll see me making comments to the effect that it was derivative but decent, with some interesting horror-tinged elements. Then Richard got his hands on the Sword of Truth and the whole thing went off a cliff.

This chapter just shows that it has yet to approach anything resembling rock bottom.

PRINCESS VIOLET TURNED SUDDENLY and slapped Rachel’s face. Hard. Rachel had done
nothing wrong, of course; the Princess just liked to slap her when she least expected it. The Princess thought it was fun. Rachel didn’t try to hide how much it hurt; if it didn’t hurt enough, the Princess would slap her again. Rachel put her hand over the sting, her bottom lip quivering, tears welling up in her eyes, but she said nothing.

You can just tell this is going to be fun.

Yes, we’ve got some new characters to hang out with. Princess Violet is the daughter of Queen Milena who if you recall has the last Box of Orden and who Rahl isn’t going to just curb-stomp with his army because *cough*. She is described as having stubby fingers, a plump neck and “dull hair” and thus is clearly evil because that’s how these things work in this book.

Rachel is Violet’s designated playmate/chew-toy and apparently exists solely so the princess can vent her sadistic tendencies. Goodkind is clearly not intending to portray their relationship with anything remotely resembling nuance or subtlety:

She wasn’t allowed to let her hair grow, of course, she was a nobody,’ but she wished so much it could at least be cut even. Almost everyone else had their hair cut short, but it was even. The Princess liked chopping it for her, liked making it all jagged. Princess Violet liked it when other people thought Rachel was ugly.

Wouldn’t this story be so much more interesting if the characters weren’t all stereotypes?

For example, I’m sure the portrayal of the children of monarchs as ultra-spoiled little cretins is at least partially rooted in historical fact, but on the flipside I don’t think growing up in that environment was the 24/7 orgy of indulgence that people imagine. There’s probably an enormous amount of pressure to uphold the family ideals, your life is mapped out rigidly from the moment of birth (particularly if you’re the heir to the throne) and monarchs are just as capable of being cruel tyrants to their family members as they are to their subjects. Imagine growing up in the same house as someone who can do whatever they want to you and absolutely no-one in the world is going to stop them. Not exactly an automatic recipe for super fun-times.

But anyway enough about the hypothetical more interesting novel in my head.

The start of the chapter is basically Violet being a little shit by tossing her mother’s jewelry around the place and making Rachel pick it up. It is refreshing to get away from Richard and Kahlan’s viewpoint for a while, but the abrupt tonal shift from epic fantasy to PRINCESS ZONE is a little jarring, like this is part of a different novel that Goodkind spliced in.

new-tegrabased-game-princess-punt-thd-slips-out-on-tegra-zone-then-quietly-disappears_ri-te_0

^ The Princess Zone, apparently

Letting out a long, bored sigh, she walked over to the fancy white marble pedestal that stood by itself in the opposite corner of the jewel room. She was looking up at her mother’s favorite object, one she fawned over at every opportunity. Princess Violet’s pudgy fingers reached up, pulling the gold jewel-encrusted box off its honored resting place.

Wait, does Queen Milena know what it is? If so I’d imagine she’d keep it somewhere safer.

“Princess Violet!” Rachel blurted out before she had a chance to think. “Your mother said you mustn’t touch that.”

Putting the glittering, jewel-encrusted box on a white pedestal in plain view is clearly reinforcing that rule.

Forbidden-Closet-Of-Mystery-1322469847

Incidentally the Queen is described as “fawning” over it. I had hoped she was going to turn out to be a cool character but that’s looking unlikely.

Violet tosses the box to Rachel, who just barely manages to catch it. I wonder what would happen if someone other than Rahl opened the box? Would breaking it count? Anyway Violet slaps Rachel again and marches off to be a cartoonish parody somewhere else.

Rachel knew the Queen was always having somebody’s head chopped off

Welp there go my hopes for Queen Milena.

Sometimes, the Princess made Rachel go with her to watch, but Rachel always closed her eyes. The Princess didn’t.

Oh come the fuck on, was she raised by Darth Vader or something?

Rachel finishes putting the box away and then a wizard appears. It’s Giller, who Kahlan mentioned a while ago as being the last wizard left who isn’t Zedd.

Please, please don’t kill me.” Her face wrinkled up as she tried to make herself back away, but her feet wouldn’t move. “Please.” She stuck the hem of her dress in her mouth, biting it as she whimpered.

She stuck the hem of her dress in her mouth? Like, the end of it? How does that even work?

Giller assures Rachel that he’s not going to wizard-murder her and Rachel starts frantically assuring him that Princess Evil is so good to her and Rachel totally loves her. That’s pretty sad! You made me feel emotions, Terry Goodkind. Well done.

I’m sorry I frightened you. I was only coming to check on the Queen’s box.

You don’t know how hard I’m struggling not to make an incredibly stupid joke here (so hard).

No one had ever told her that her name was pretty

Rachel’s interactions with Giller very quickly start to strongly resemble those of Kahlan with Richard, or Kahlan with Zedd, or Kahlan with the Bird Man hey are you noticing a pattern here?

Giller (who I am glad to report is 100% less insufferable than Zedd) heals Rachel’s pain for her.

“The Princess hits me,” she admitted, ashamed.

“So’? She is not so kind to you, then?”

Jesus Christ man, pay attention.

Giller is all kind and shit in contrast to those mean, horrible, cruel women royalty and Rachel thinks he’s just the bee’s knees. He gives her a talking “trouble doll” in a scene that almost poisoned me from twee.

“I’m not allowed to have a doll. The Princess said so. She would throw it in the fire, that’s what she said. If I had a doll, she would throw it in the fire.”

Okay, okay. Stop for a minute.

Darken Rahl was one thing, but you’re seriously going to make the little girl evil incarnate? Seriously? Wouldn’t it be way more interesting if Princess Violet looked down on Rachel because she had been conditioned to see commoners as beneath her but maybe had some actual affection for her as well and Rachel resented Princess Violet but also appreciated getting to hang with royalty all day in a big fancy palace and their relationship was sort of complicated?

It’s mentioned later that Rachel sits at (well, behind) the high table with the royal family even though she’s the lowest of the low. Isn’t that kind of interesting? Doesn’t that suggest tons of complex, nuanced things you could explore?

No? Well okay then.

Oh also Princess Violet locks Rachel in a box at night. How did anyone write this shit with a straight face?

Anyway Giller comes up with some way for Rachel to keep the doll without Princess Skeletor throwing it in a fire (because she would do that apparently) and Rachel is just absolutely thrilled with these even though it seems like Giller could fairly easily find a way to get her the fuck out of the awful situation she’s in with his wizard powers. But he laughs and his eyes sparkle so it’s alright!

santa

Rachel scurries off to the kitchen to relay a message from Princess Darkness and overhears an intriguing conversation.

“What’re we going to do now?” the short one asked. “We don’t have any more of the ingredients Father Rahl sent.”

That might be a good thing. Just an FYI.

The cooks bribe Rachel with delicious food to not spill the beans about the mystery ingredients getting lost and she’s super happy about this, which makes me worry something grimdark is going to happen to her soon.

Later in the dining hall (where Rachel sits in a tiny stool and watches everyone eat because fuck subtlety) we get our first encounter with Queen Milena. She’s fat (because evil people are fat) and carries around a tiny little evil-woman dog who she feeds scraps of meat and talks to in a simpering voice.

No, really. I’m not making that up, she actually does the dog thing.

Rachel didn’t like the little dog. It barked a lot, and sometimes when the Queen set it on the floor, it would run over to her and bite her legs with its tiny sharp teeth

Because even the dog is the fucking devil.

The servants wheel out the stuff that the cooks were making that’s supposed to contain Rahl’s recipe for a “drink of enlightenment” but which actually has gravy or something in it because the cooks spilled the real one. This suggests a possible scenario where all this cackling evil is because Rahl is brainwashing everyone.

Dear God, please let me be right.

The evil juice doesn’t taste right and the Queen gets pissed, but one of the cooks makes up a fairly clever ruse about strengthening the drink so everyone will be enlightened as fuck.

In fact, Your Majesty, it is so strong that anyone who fails to be enlightened, and opposes you after drinking it, well, they could only be a traitor.

Nice misdirection there, dude. High five.

The Queen makes a speech about how totally enlightened they’re all going to be now that they’ve drunk the enlightenment brew and some of the guests say they already feel hella enlightened. I guess this is supposed to be commentary on, like…. actually I don’t care.

Queen Milena brings in “the fool” for a bit of entertainment, which means she hauls in a chained Objectivist so she can spit strawman socialist talking points at him.

No, seriously:

We here have all agreed that an alliance with our ally, Darken Rahl, will bring great benefits to all our people, that we all will profit, together. That the little people, the workers, the farmers, will benefit the most. That they will be freed from the oppression of those who would only exploit them for profit, for gold, for greed. That from now on, we all will be working for the common good, not individual goals.” The Queen frowned. “Please tell all these ignorant lords and ladies”-she swept her hand around the room-“how it is that you are smarter than they, and why you should be allowed to work only for yourself, instead of your fellow man.

IS A MAN NOT ENTITLED TO HIS SHITTY POLITICAL SOAP-BOXING

The heroic objectivist points out that this is massive hypocrisy since the Queen and the nobility are all filthy rich. This is a totally valid point and also a good reason why monarchs tend not to be socialists but I guess if Queen Milena’s points were being made by a lowly serf it would be harder for Goodkind to knock them down.

If you swapped around the speakers in this scene so the poor farmer was railing against greed and demanding that resources be shared with him so he doesn’t starve it would be patently obvious his position is at the very least sympathetic, and if Queen Milena was the one expressing the “I got mine, fuck everyone else” position it would rightly come across as cold and lacking in empathy. And we can’t be having that!

Now granted, Goodkind could easily have made a valid point here about the rhetoric of Communist governments regarding equality being a crock of shit when so many of them involved an autocratic elite living in relative luxury while the people starved, but it’s clear he’s not doing that. This is just an exhibition match between objectivism and socialism, where socialism is blind-folded and has both arms tied behind its back.

Anyway, Queen Hiter asks Princess Stalin to decide what to do with the man so she says “off with his head” literally and he gets dragged off to the chopping block.

Rachel tells Violet that she’s mean for executing the guy and Violet is all “well you can go sleep outside then” and Rachel is like “lolololol the wizard gave me a fire stick to keep me warm but okay whatevs” and toddles off to retrieve the stick and her doll where Giller hid them earlier.

They never said anything to her when they let her out, or when they let her back in. They knew she was the Princess’s playmate: a nobody.

I’m fairly certain being the designated punching bag for royalty would at the very least make you an important piece of property, if not a huge security concern.

Turns out I’m not the only one who had that idea, as a mysterious person in a tower watches her ominously. Hey maybe sending the one person who is constantly alone in the princess’ company out of the castle with no guards wasn’t such a smooth idea.

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19 thoughts on “Let’s Read Wizard’s First Rule ch. 29

  1. Pingback: Let’s Read Otherbound ch. 13-14 | Doing In The Wizard

  2. Pingback: Let’s Read Wizard’s First Rule ch. 30 | Doing In The Wizard

  3. Fibinachi

    At least Martin doesn’t make the evil ones be parodies os nazi-socialist-comunist-ecologist-all he considers politically evil, while the good guys are priviledged, middleclass, hard working liberal businessmen from the western world.

    …. wait, Richard travels from Westland into a world without his moral clarity and makes it all the better for his superior ways and knowledge, starting out with the Mud People and moving on from there?

    :…… he’s a middleclass western white entrepeneur exploiting the superstitious eastern natives with his superior intellectual wisdom how have I just gotten that now, after so many years

    Reply
  4. Austin H. Williams

    Something striking me here is how much the Queen’s portrayal here, while still being cartoonish and ridiculous, doesn’t seem that different from how all types of villains are portrayed in fantasy. More than a few characters from A Song of Ice and Fire actually sprang to mind, particularly LisaLysa Tully and Gregor Clegane.

    For all the credit that series (and others) receive for including “realistic” characters, it still feels to me like a step sideways instead of a step forward. Especially ironic considering how much stick Goodkind gets on the Westeros forums and what-not.

    Reply
    1. Signatus

      ASOIAF is not actually the brilliant masterpiece most people make it be. I have to give Martin this, tho, Lysa was portrayed as being pathologically crazy, not inherently evil just for the sake of it. But you’re right, the pararelism between both scenes is astounding.
      Clegane is a homicidal brute who has no redeemeable qualities at all.

      At least Martin doesn’t make the evil ones be parodies os nazi-socialist-comunist-ecologist-all he considers politically evil, while the good guys are priviledged, middleclass, hard working liberal businessmen from the western world. Doesn’t make his mess any more refreshing, but at least I don’t have to see him rant about his flawed and ignorant vision of politics.

      Reply
      1. Austin H. Williams

        I’ll also grant that many characters in Martin’s books who start out looking a bit paper-thin do develop as the series goes on (and on, and on, and on…), but there’s still a whole lot of “Imma’ take me an archetype, make it as reprehensible as possible, and the fanbois will say #2EDGY! & I make millions.” I know I’m not alone in holding that ASoIaF is just a negative image of all the Cambpellian write-by-numbers fantasy adventures out there.

        I’ll definitely give Martin that much: we never get any long-winded screes about the awesomeness of his pet political philosophy, Even when characters go on and on about how Might Makes Right or There Is No Future or whatever, it at least bloody well makes sense within context (assuming those are Martin’s political/philosophical views, which they very well may not be).

        Reply
      2. Reveen

        The problem with Martin is that he goes out of his way to make his viewpoint and major supporting characters deep and multifaceted (unless they’re a Greyjoy not named Theon) but doesn’t even try with everyone else. Too many side characters are made cartoons just so they can be a producer, or receptacle for grimdark.

        Abercrombie has the exact same problem actually.

        Reply
      3. braak

        I think the interesting thing about Gregor Clegane, though, is that very clearly NOT everyone in this world is that way — it just stands to reason that guy who’s like that, he’s probably going to excel at being a knight, since 90% of it is just being good at fighting.

        Reply
  5. Andrea Harris (@SpinsterAndCat)

    That thing about Rachel being a “nobody” because she’s the princess’ plaything and… you know, in REAL HISTORY the people who were close to the princess but who weren’t servants were usually their “favorites” and had more than a bit of political power, because after all people close to the royal family were CLOSE TO POWER. Christ on a cracker, hasn’t Goodkind read *any* Shakespeare, or even seen a televised version of one of his plays?

    Also the way he writes makes me think that while in other aspects of his life I’m sure he’s a normal adult, when he starts writing fiction he becomes a six-year-old-boy. Only a six-year-old would come up with more interesting stories, so that doesn’t work either.

    Reply
    1. Reveen

      Yeah, I somehow don’t see someone like Goodkind coming up with something as imaginative as Axe Cop. Doesn’t matter how juvenile they are.

      Reply
  6. Signatus

    Ok, I have several complains for this chapter, and most of them you adressed marvelously. The fact that Goodkind seems to have never been anywhere close to a child, and that his world is so black and white it hurts. His readers are not braindead idiots that need to be shown when someone is truly evil. Like I mentioned before, Hitler was actually a kind man to women, loved dogs, was a vegetarian, boosted the economy to help his people and even created things like the Volkswaggen which literally means The People’s Car, so everyone, not only rich snobs, could have a car. The first animal and nature protection laws in Europe came from the Third Reich.
    Oh, yeah, and he killed jews and pushed Europe to another devastating war, all the time thinking he was right and was doing all this for the good of Germany.

    I’m not saying kids can’t be monsters. I’m stating someone who is evil for the sake of evil is a psycopath, and even when being the top guy in the box, psycopaths don’t have very long lifes (Stalin comes to mind).
    Goodkind keeps portraying his evil people like saturday morning cartoon character parodies. They are not even worthy of an Austin Power movie. There is nothing interesting about them at all.

    Why can’t we have the queen actually being worried about her people, bending the knee before Rahl because she fears he will burn the soil with her subjects if she doesn’t? Or maybe she truly believes Rahl is a savior for the land, without portraying her as a sociopathic homicidal maniac.

    I won’t talk about the parody that the dog is because, sadly, there are too many hysterical little dogs out there, idiots bought to pass them as fluffy babies. I have four dogs, one of them is a pomeranian, and I totally despise people who let their dogs reach that point of stress. They don’t know how much they are hurting their “beloved pets”.
    I’m still expecting dobermann to appear somewhere, maybe they are a genetic experiment by the Naz… I mean, by Rahl. 😄

    Now, the whole political view might has been amusing the first time, slightly irritating the second, by now it’s just getting downright annoying.
    Goodkind, I don’t fucking care about your political views. Keep them to fucking yourself!
    Also, he’s gotten everything wrong. He’s talking about capitalism as if the system was leaded by noble people who only wanted to keep their hard earned job’s wage, and socialists were a bunch of hypocrites who stole the poor to enrich the rich.
    He is completely ignoring how many large companies abuse the system, going as far as to employ slave labor, child labor and horrible working conditions in countries where laws are not so rigid and strict (and humane) as in the western world, all of this because their wages and taxes are way lower.
    He is ignoring that comunism and social democracy is NOT the same thing, and the comunist application they did in URSS is NOT the true Marx communism. What they did was a perversion of the true egalitarism comunism pursued. And I’m not a comunist, but I hate it when lies are used in a political discussion to force views one way or the other.

    And, one last thing. Goodkind, stop-repeating-words.
    Really, there are other ways to phrase things. I think I read the word “dog” like five times in three sentences. That’s not bad writing. That’s not even noob level writing. That’s “I don’t fucking give a shit as long as money flows” writing.

    Reply
    1. ronanwills Post author

      I keep reading that the objectivism stuff only comes into play later, but it’s been really pronounced just in the first half of the first book.

      Reply
  7. Reveen

    Now, all this demonizing of an 8 year old girl is kinda disturbing and all. But I’m more pissed off about the dog thing. For fucks sake, we already FUBARed all these dog breeds beyond repair by breeding them to the size of rats and then selling them to idiots who won’t train them because they think their yapping and biting is cute, why the fuck do we feel the need to make fun of them for it?

    Though, to be fair, I like the idea of using Objectivists as entertainment for dinner parties.

    Reply
  8. Alice

    Even though they toned down Darken Rahl’s ultra mega evilness for the tv series, the episode that covered this bit was left pretty much unchanged from what I remember, with the queen and her daughter being exactly as described here. At least they cut the politics soap-boxing. Instead I think they had the queen holding auditions to find an entertainer for her daughter’s birthday party, which Zedd wins by disguising himself as a puppeteer or something.

    Reply
  9. Emily

    “She stuck the hem of her dress in her mouth? Like, the end of it? How does that even work?”

    Let’s be real, I might’ve done this if I were 5, if the dress was short enough.

    Also if you think THIS shit’s bad, JUST YOU FUCKING WAIT. Also, it’s really too bad you’re not reading beyond book 1.

    Reply
  10. Pingback: Let’s Read Wizard’s First Rule ch. 27-28 | Doing In The Wizard

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